While lemon essential oil can be purchased through specialty stores and online, the demand for the oil has been rising with each passing year, causing prices to follow suit. If you find yourself using a lot of lemon oil, it may be beneficial to make your own at home. It is affordable and can even be a fun and enjoyable hobby to involve the entire family in. A fresh bottle of homemade lemon oil even makes a great gift.
Lemon oil differs from other oils in that it is usually cold pressed instead of steam distilled. This makes it much easier to make at home and provides higher quality oil than most other homemade oils. It is still important to know that what you make at home will not have the exact same potency as store bought or professionally made oils but a homemade version of lemon oil will still provide you with all of its benefits and attributes.
What You Will Need
- Fresh Lemons
You will be using the lemon rinds so the number of lemons that you need will be based on how much oil that you wish to produce and also how strong you want the oil to be. Since you are only using the rinds, don’t let the lemons go to waste. Juice them to make fresh lemonade. You can even add some of your lemon essential oil to the mix for a boost in flavor.
When choosing lemons, look for a fully ripe lemon. It will feel heavy for its size, be a bright yellow color without green spots and should have skin that is textured.
You can use any grater that you have in your kitchen already. Make sure that the blades are not dull. You don’t want to struggle to grate each lemon, since you will be grating quite a few.
- Large Glass Container
This is what you will make the oil in so make sure that it is big enough to hold all of your lemon rinds and oil. It should also have a tight fitting lid. You can use an old food container as long as it has been cleaned thoroughly. A canning jar would be ideal.
- Cold-pressed Oil
Cold-pressed olive oil is recommended for making lemon oil but just about any cold-pressed oil will do. A cold-pressed oil simply means that heat is not applied to the product when extracting the oil. The material is first ground down into a paste and then slowly stirred, encouraging the oil to separate. Pressure is them applied to force the rest of the oil out but this pressure cannot create so much friction that the temperature rises. Most oil production companies are required to keep temperatures lower than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in order for the oil to be classified as cold-pressed. Other variations include flax-seed, sunflower and peanut. Just be sure that the oil you use does not have a strong scent that will mix strangely with the intense lemon scent.
On average, you will need three cups for oil for every six lemons.
- Mesh Strainer/Cheesecloth
You can use a strainer that you already have in the kitchen, as long as the slots are not large enough to let any of the materials seep through. You can also use a cheesecloth or coffee filter.
- Dark Glass Bottle
This is what you will be storing your essential oil in. They store best in dark glass and will stay fresher longer this way. Try to use one with an eyedropper attached to the lid to make distribution easier. Be cautious if using a bottle that previously held a different essential oil. It can be difficult to completely clean the bottle and remove all the residue and fragrance from the previous oil, which can affect the new oil that will be placed in it.
Grate all of your lemons into a bowl. If you don’t have a grater, you may simply peel the lemons but do so very carefully. If any fruit gets into the mixture you run the risk of bacteria growing in the oil over time. Once you have grated your desired number of lemons, let the rinds sit out for about an hour. Then transfer the rinds to your glass container. It should fill up the jar about halfway. Fill the rest of the container with the cold-pressed olive oil or other desired oil up to the top. Shake the jar well.
Put the jar in a safe spot where it will receive enough sunlight to warm up a bit and leave it for about two days. Remember to shake the jar on occasion, at least twice a day. Feel free to leave the mixture longer, up to two weeks.
After the soaking time has passed, open the jar and begin to strain the mixture. You will want to not only remove all of the lemon peels but also try and get all of the oil off of these pieces before discarding them. Once the straining has been completed, the oil that is left is your essential oil. You can begin the process again with a fresh batch of lemon peels and olive oil if desired. Repeat the process as many times as you would like or as many times are needed for all of the lemon. You are finished making your essential oil when it has reached the desired fragrance level.
Transfer the oil to a dark glass bottle and store it in a cool, dark place. The oil should be used within twelve months. Try adding a few drops of vitamin E oil to extend the life of your lemon oil, if you are using cosmetically. If you are using the oil for cooking, feel free to store in a decorative glass container to store on your kitchen counter. Just check the oil before each use. If there is any concern that the oil has spoiled, do not use the oil and discard of it.