Botanical name Citrus aurantium L. var amara
Source Leaves and Twigs
Processing Method Steam Distilled
Color/Consistency A thin, colorless to pale yellow liquid.
Aromatic Summary / Note / Strength of Aroma A top note with a strong aroma, Petitgrain smells like orange blossoms, but less floral, more herbaceous, and with a bitter undertone.
Blends With Bergamot, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Geranium, Lavender, Lime, Jasmine, Neroli, Orange, Palmarosa, Rosemary, Sandalwood and Ylang-Ylang.
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara) essential oil is very similar to neroli essential oil; this is because they are both obtained from the bitter orange tree. There a couple of theories surrounding the derivation of the name petitgrain; in the French language, petit grain means little grain, a possible reference to the visible essential oil sacs in the leaves of the tree, when held to the light. Petitgrain is a classic ingredient of the eau-de-cologne fragrance and has been used extensively in the perfumery industry since the 18th century. It is often used to replace the more expensive neroli oil.
The Paraguayan industry of essential oil production from the bitter orange tree Citrus aurantium (L.) subsp. amara owes its existence to Benjamin Balansa who visited in 1873 and started distilling the essential oil. Sought after for the refreshing aroma it gives to soap in 1938, Paraguay produced 100,000 kilograms of petitgrain essential oil.
Petitgrain is distilled from the leaves and twigs. In Paraguay, the trees are cultivated usually in small plantations in low coppiced rows to maximize leaf production and facilitate harvesting, which is all done by hand with a machete and gathered and loaded onto oxen-powered carts.
Dilute before use; for external use only. May cause skin irritation in some individuals; a skin test is recommended prior to use. Contact with eyes should be avoided.
Linalyl acetate 47.4–58.0%
Geranyl acetate 2.9–4.5%
Neryl acetate 2.1–3.0%
Hazards Phototoxic (moderate risk).
Contraindications (dermal) If applied to the skin at over maximum use level, skin must not be exposed to sunlight or sunbed
rays for 12 hours.
Maximum dermal use level 0.17%.
Has GRAS status. IFRA recommends that, for application to areas of skin exposed to sunshine, mandarin leaf oil be limited to a maximum of 0.17% except for bath preparations, soaps and other wash-off products. This recommendation is based on the phototoxicity of dimethyl anthranilate and its assumed presence in mandarin leaf oil at <60%. EU regulations require that dimethyl anthranilate, as a constituent of mandarin leaf oil, should not be used in leave-on cosmetics, and its use in rinse-off products should be limited to 0.1%. In Canada, mandarin leaf oil is permitted in leave-on products at up to 0.1%. In Europe, essential oils containing furanocoumarins must be used so that the total level of bergapten will not exceed: 15 ppm in finished cosmetic products intended for application to skin areas likely to be exposed to sunshine, excluding rinse-off products; or (b) 1 ppm in sun protection and in bronzing products. In the presence of other phototoxic ingredients,the sum of their concentrations shall not exceed 100%.
Adverse skin reactions No information found. Mandarin leaf oil typically contains 50 ppm bergapten which is not sufficient to cause a phototoxic reaction. However, dimethyl anthranilate was phototoxic to mice at 5%, with an NOAEL of 0.5% in humans.
Acute toxicity No information found. Dimethyl anthranilate and g-terpinene are slightly toxic orally, and non-toxic dermally
Carcinogenic/anticarcinogenic potential No information was found for mandarin leaf oil, but it contains no known
carcinogens. (þ)-Limonene displays anticarcinogenic activity.
A bergapten content of 50 ppm would not be sufficient to impart phototoxicity to mandarin leaf oil. Assuming a bergapten content of 50 ppm, and to comply with the 15 ppm SCCNFP guideline for bergapten, mandarin leaf oil should not be used at more than 30%. Major constituents vary considerably between different cultivars, and also according to the time of year. If the dimethyl anthranilate concentration is lower than 60% the maximum use level could be proportionately increased.