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Embracing Essential Oils, starting with Sweet Orange by Jessica La Grassa


Hello there! I want to talk essential oils with you. My name is Jessica La Grassa; I’m a transplant Hamiltonian and a certified Aromatologist. I do not perform bodywork, such as massages and facials, but I have a deep understanding of the theory and practical use of aromatherapy. About 5 years ago, after reading No More Dirty Looks, I became obsessed with purging my house of products that were filled with chemicals. I had never noticed before how many synthetic ingredients were in EVERYTHING. “What’s diethanolamine and formaldehyde?” I’d yell to no one in particular. “Those don’t sound natural!” Shortly after being horrified by the traditional beauty industry I turned to essential oils and, with my husband as my guinea pig, I was determined to change the way that we lived. That’s when I decided to learn more. I wanted to concentrate on the healing properties of the oils and how best to use them in my life, not just what smelled nice. I found Jan Benham and The Institute of Aromatherapy by chance and never looked back. She gave me a strong foundation and understanding of how powerful and healing Mother Nature can be.

Originally, my intent was simply to help safeguard my family. But now, as my passion has grown, I’d like to share this knowledge with all of you! Each month I’ll be talking about a specific essential oil, providing some info and easy recipes for how you can incorporate them into your everyday life. By providing this, I hope to help you make educated choices for you and your loved ones too.

Before we start, please note the following:

  • Essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin. Always use a carrier oil for this.

  • Essential oils are powerful concentrates of the oils found in flowers, herbs, resins or spices so a little goes a long way.

  • I do not agree with ingesting essential oils and will strictly be providing topical recipes.

  • I will point out if any of the recipes are unsafe for expectant mothers and/or those who are breastfeeding.

  • I’ll be looking at ways we can use essential oils not just on ourselves but also in our homes.

  • I’m not affiliated with any company or brand but do recommend using 100% pure (not blended) and organic essential oils whenever possible.

I thought we could start with something that most of us have around the house, especially this time of year, and enjoy eating: oranges.

Sweet orange, with the Latin name citrus sinensisis, is part of the Rutaceae Citrus family. This botanical family includes other citrus fruit such as lime, lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, mandarin and neroli. The general therapeutic properties include: detoxifying, cleansing (especially for the digestive system) and stimulating (both uplifting and rejuvenating). The oils are taken from the peel or zest of the fruit and the extraction method typically used is called expression. This involves pressing the peels between two pieces of wood, one of which would have a sponge that catches the released oils. The oils are then collected from the sponge by wringing it out. Sounds like a lot of work, right? That’s why essential oils can vary in price. The quality of the raw materials and the method used will dictate how much the oil is worth.

Luckily for us, I want to extract the oil from the peels a different way and use it to make a wonderful surface cleaner that’s great for disinfecting countertops and yoga mats. Simply save up all your citrus peels (from oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, pomelos, etc.) until you have a jar’s worth. Any jar with a sealable lid can be used; Mason jars are the easiest and cheapest option. You can leave the peels in a paper bag in the freezer until you’ve collected enough. Once you have enough to fill the jar, pack them in as tightly as possible and cover them with white vinegar, apple vinegar or a combo of the two. Place a piece of parchment paper over the top before placing the lid on and sealing it shut. The parchment paper will stop the vinegar from eroding the lid’s rubber seal (especially if you’re using a typical Mason jar) so you can use it again. Let the peels sit in the vinegar for a few weeks (1-4 weeks). Over time the oils from the peels with infuse the vinegar. This type of extraction, known as maceration, is typically done with either water or oil, but for our purposes here (to create a cleaning solution) works perfectly as we’re not putting it on our bodies. After the peels have soaked for 1-4 weeks, drain the liquid into a glass spray bottle and top it off with equal parts water (we’re using a 1:1 ratio here). The soaked peels can go into the compost, although if you have a backyard one it’s best to send them to the city as they will change the acidy balance of your soil mix. You can use the mixture as is or put a few more drop of essential oils in. Some of my favourites to include are: 5-6 drops lemongrass, rosemary, sweet basil or peppermint, all of which are antiseptic, antibacterial, and nicely complement the oils and benefits extracted from the peels. Feel free to use more than one of the essential oils but not more than 2 or 4 drops each. That’s it!

Have a diffuser? Why not try these sweet orange combos:

  1. 6 drops of sweet orange essential oil and 4 drops of cinnamon essential oil to create a warm and calming environment, perfect for colder weather (dare I say winter?).

  2. 5 drops of sweet orange essential oil, 3 drops of peppermint essential oil and 2 drops of lemon essential oil to create a refreshing and uplifting environment, perfect for summer.

Have any questions about this article or an essential oil you’d like me to discuss? Email me:


Share your experiences using sweet orange essential oil with us using #RitualFlowerPower