Q&A – What is Lime Oil?

Limes and a bottle of essential oil

Lime oil is created by extraction of the oil from the lime peel. At the C&A factory in Colima Mexico, Lime Oil is extracted from the peel using a screw press. Unlike the process for manufacturing other citrus oils, that oil is actually simultaneously extracted with the juice and allowed to comingle. The lime juice lime oil slurry is then either centrifuged to separate the oil that has been sitting in juice, or charged into a steam distillation unit. The Lime that is removed by the centrifuge has a lovely juicy aroma and flavor very much reminiscent of key lime pie. The juice-oil blend that is distilled comes in contact with steam for approximately ten hours at which time the citric acid naturally occurring in the juice, reacts with the components of the lime oil and a transformation takes place. In a nutshell, the citral is dramatically reduced and alpha terpineol is formed. Lime distilled does not smell nor taste like key lime pie. It smells and tastes like a lime lollypop or the lime portion of a lemon-lime soda. That is how distilled lime oil is made from key lime fruit. 

Lime oil from Persian limes is manufactured the same way as lemon oil or orange oil in basically the same equipment. That oil smells close to the expressed oil from key limes, but not as strong and not as juicy. There is no production of distilled lime from Persian limes because the amount of citric acid in Persian limes is rather low.

Color: Lime expressed oil is pale yellow to light olive to dark green in color. Lime distilled is clear to pale yellow in color

Odor: Lime expressed oil has a sharp citrus peel smell like the aroma of a fresh lime with some lemon characteristics. Lime distilled has a sharp aroma with a distinct terpineol character.

Composition: Lime oil Expressed, like other citrus oils is composed of alpha pinene, beta pinene, myrcene, limonene, gamma Terpinene, terpinolene, 1,8 cineol, borneol, citral and traces of neryl acetate and geranyl acetate and sesquiterpenes. The components of lime distilled are different because of the long time in the distiller. Lime distilled contains approximately 7% alpha terpineol, and also contains alpha pinene, beta pinene, alpha terpinene, 1,8 cineol, limonene, gamma terpinene, terpinolene, traces of citral, neryl and geranyl acetate and sesquiterpenes

Botanical Name: Citrus aurantifolia Botanical

Family: Rutaceae

Origin of lime: Originally from Asia, it is now cultivated in most warm countries. It is an evergreen tree that grows about 4.5meteres or 15 feet high with smooth green leaves, stiff sharp spines and small white flowers. The fruit is yellow to yellow green to green and although there are many varieties they usually measure about 2” in diameter. Limes were introduced into Europe by the Moors and from there migrated to the Americas

Uses: Lime oil is used in flavors and fragrances. It is a popular flavor in soda for example ginger ale and cola. It can be used as a flavor in spice blends or drink mixes or salad dressings. It is also used in baked goods, candy, gum, beverages, it can be used in baking and cooking. It can also be used in aromatherapy.

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