Lime Oil and the Plant

Lime Oil and the Plant ~ A complete description of Lime, family ties, country of origin, characteristics, body care, skin care, formulas, and recipes for using this oil. Lime oil has excellent application in skin care products for its astringency for oily skin and is used for its tart scent, particularly in men’s perfumery.

Lime oil courtesy of 1.


By Jeanne Rose ~ October 2023

Latin Binomial/Botanical ~ Citrus x aurantiifolia is the Latin binomial for regular Lime oil, and it is also incorrectly listed in various places as Citrus aurantiifolia.

[the x means that it is a cross between other citrus varieties.]

“Bearss Lemons, ” called Lime, is Citrus latifolia or Persian lime. It is like the Lisbon Lemon.

            Makrut Lime and Kaffir Lime  is C. hystrix. The leaves, as well as the fruit, are eaten in foods and distilled and used in perfumery.

            “The lime. *The putative parent differs from the unknown parent of the Lemon; Scora & Kumamoto (1983) consider there may be three wild species in the lime’s ancestry, two of them perhaps from outside subgenus Citrus.”3
The parents of the ‘Mexican Lime are C. micrantha and C. medical, and then the Mexican Lime crossed with Lemon gives the ‘Tahiti’ Lime (C. x latifolia).

           >> If you want to have a fun time scrambling your brains, look at the incestuous crosses, backcrossing, mutations, aberrations, speciation events, hybrids, genetic mixings, varieties, groups or outgroups, rootstock changes, and terroir effects of the many Citrus types to understand the various citrus fruits, we have now. <<

                  Ancestral species include
Citrus cavaleriei — Ichang Papeda
Citrus hystrix – Kaffir Lime
Citrus japonica — Kumquat
Citrus maxima – Pomelo
Citrus medica – Citron
Citrus micrantha  – Papeda
Citrus reticulata – Mandarin Orange

Kaffir Lime Citrus hystrix …2

FAMILY ~ Rutaceae

NAMING ~ The taxonomy of the citrus fruits is complicated by hybridity and apomixis (asexual regeneration), with many stable hybrid lines being accorded species status, so that the number of edible species recognized in the genus Citrus L. … varies from 1 to 162”.1
            The current version of the Bearss lemon (lime) originated in the early 50s in Florida and is a popular variety for lemon growers. It is a true Lemon, and it is high in Lemon oil. It is also popular because it produces high-quality fruit, a lot of Lemons on each tree, and because of its peel.”2
(see the Lemon blog:  ) It is also called Citrus x latifolia or Persian lime (also known as Tahiti lime or Bearss lime), a seedless variety.

And yes, it is very confusing.

Citrus latifolia … 3

COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN of Lime ~ There is a wide range of studies of where and how the diverse Citrus developed or where they were indigenous. They are now naturalized worldwide. Guenther mentions that Lime is probably a native of the East Indian Archipelago and then brought to the Asiatic mainland and on to tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Lime was brought to Europe by the Arabs. Read volume 3, page 287 of The Essential Oils by Guenther for more extensive information.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF LIME CITRUS, PLANT, HABITAT, & GROWTH ~ “The tree seldom grows more than 5 meters (16 feet) high and, if not pruned, becomes shrub-like. Its branches spread and are irregular, with short, stiff twigs, small leaves, and many small, sharp thorns. The evergreen leaves are pale green, and the small white flowers that bloom in spring are usually borne in clusters. The fruit is about 3 to 4 cm (1 to 1.5 inches) in diameter, oval to nearly globular in shape, often with a small apical nipple, and the peel is thin and greenish-yellow when the fruit is ripe. The pulp is tender, juicy, yellowish-green in color, and decidedly acidic. Limes exceed lemons in both acid and sugar content. There are, however, some varieties so lacking in citric acid that they are known as sweet Limes. These are grown to some extent in Egypt and certain tropical countries.”2  
“Citrus fruits are notable for their fragrance, partly due to flavonoids and limonoids (which are terpenes) contained in the rind, and most are juice-laden. The juice contains a high quantity of citric acid, giving it its characteristic sharp flavor. “8

This was described as a Meyer Lemon but looks much like the Lime. Photo JeanneRose …4

If Lime is cold-pressed, “The fruit is peeled and then squeezed, and the essential oil is trapped ‘in a blanket like emulsion composed of albedo [containing all the bioflavonoids], with its pectin and cellulose, water, and essential oils.’ [Fragrance by Edwin Morris] This is put through a screen and then centrifuged. It is then chilled, precipitating and solidifying the waxes from the fruit skin, which drops to the bottom of the collecting tank and is filtered out. The oil settles, then it is filtered again, decanted and stored” Aromatherapy Studies Course, Chapter 3, p. 62

            Lime is also steam-distilled, and this eliminates its phototoxicity.

         Yield ~ many factors affect the yield of oil from cold-pressed or steam-distilled Lime, including genetic factors, the terroir of the field, whether the peels were dried or pretreated when the Limes were harvested, and more. Guenther mentions that hand-pressed or cold-expressed Lime oil has a pleasing, true-to-nature odor and flavor. The yield of this oil depends on the quality and condition of the fruit, and a barrel of fruit (160 lb.) averages 2.5-3 ounces of oil.

         Yield has also been observed as 0.06% for cold-pressed oil and .15% for steam-distilled oil.

5. Citrus limetta, alternatively considered to be a cultivar of Citrus limon, C .x  limon ‘Limetta,’ is a species of citrus, commonly known as SWEET LIME, mousambi, sweet lemon, and sweet limetta. It is a member of the sweet lemons, and this only adds to the confusion of the naming of the Citrus. … 5

symbol from Jeanne Rose, The Aromatherapy Book …6

Contraindications ~ Limes, when handled and Lime oil cold pressed, will cause photosensitivity when used undiluted or if exposed to the sun directly after application. They contain furanocoumarins (natural chemicals found in some essential oils). Be wary. Lime peel oil steam-distilled does not have the plant components that cause photosensitivity.

7. PrimaFleur Lime oils – photo by JeanneRose

Organoleptic Characteristics:

Color:Colorless or very pale yellow AND when CP a hint of green to dark green
Viscosity:Non-viscous, watery
Taste:Bitter, acidic, sour
Intensity of Odor:5 and dries down to 3, then a 2.  It is a tart, pungent odor.


This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

ODOR DESCRIPTION ~ The distilled lime is prepared by steam distilling whole fruits of (Citrus x aurantifolia (Christm). & Panz.)Swingle). This steam-distilled oil is more important in the fragrance and perfumery industry than cold-pressed oil. The more expensive cold-pressed oil is more like Lemon oil than what we associate organoleptically with Lime peel oil. Germacrene B has a woody-spicy odor that contributes to the fresh odor of Lime Peel oil. [Also includes pinene, linalool, citral, germacrene]4

                  The scent is clearly a tart citrus as a predominating note, with fresh fruit and herb as subsidiary notes and often a back note of floral and spice. “You will know it when you smell it!”

SOLUBILITY ~ In cold-pressed oils, because of the presence of natural waxes, it is not clearly soluble in 5 vol. of 90% alcohol. When Lime is steam-distilled, the oil is clearly soluble in 4 vol. and more of 90% alcohol.

CHEMICAL COMPONENTS ~ These results for Lime were determined using principal component analysis. Chemotypes have been identified for lime leaf oils as beta-pinene/limonene and Limonene/geranial/neral.

In Lime peel oils, four chemotypes are distinguished: 1) limonene, 2) Limonene/gamma-terpinene, 3) Limonene/beta-pinene/gamma-terpinene, and 4)  Limonene/gamma-terpinene/beta-pinene/oxygenated products.

            The morphological distinctions between some of the citrus are slight, and “much of the commercially significant striking degustatory (tasty) distinction rests on a subtlety, the presence and relative proportions of the two stereoisomers of limonene, one of which is bitter (as in lemon), the other sweet (as in Mandarin), resulting in the differing tastes of the flesh and juice.”—Mabberly.

The scent and taste chemistry depends on limonene, which has a chiral (stereoisomer) difference — both a left-turning molecule, (S) for sinistral with the sour smell of Lemon or Bitter Orange and a right-turning molecule (D), for right hand or clockwise or dextral, of the sweet smell/taste of Oranges. This is why we all, as lovers of essential oils and aromatherapy, need to learn some chemistry and good taxonomy.

“ecuelle a piquer tool.” … 8

HISTORICAL ~ Citrus was originally relieved of its fragrant rind oil by lacerating the peels by hand. The Description from the Department of Agriculture is: “The ecuelle-a-piquer is used in perfumery, “for lacerating the oil vessels in the rinds of orange, lemon, etc.; the oil collects in the hollow handle, whence it is poured off.” Department of Agriculture, 1899

            The ecuelle-a-piquer, a perfumery tool or extracting tool used to extract oils from citrus or orange rind, is a large funnel made of copper with its inner layers tinned. The inner layer has numerous pointed metal needles just long enough to penetrate the epidermis of the ring. The lower stem is a receiver for the oil and is used as a handle…. Now the fresh lemon or lime is placed in the bowl and rotated repeatedly, the oil glands punctured (scarified) and the oil drops into the handle.”  — Source: Department of Agriculture Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture 1898 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899)

In Montserrat, the Foxes Bay Works, workers seen Ecuelling limes. … 9

INTERESTING FACTS ~ Use Lime oil much in the same way as Lemon oil, although it is more tart than Lemon oil, and with a ‘brighter’ scent, it blends well with Lemon oil. I have one old herb book that says, “inhale the scent of Lime oil to stimulate the muscles of the eye.” How this works, I do not know.

Lime oil photo by JeanneRoseã… 10


Lime oil is used as an astringent and antiseptic, and in perfumery, smells light and bright. Lime oil is somewhat a decongestant, a sedative that treats queasy headaches. It is used In men’s fragrances, and as a general  antispasmodic.


PHYSICAL USES & HOW USED ~ Skin care and body care. Perfumery. Massage oils for scent. It is  anti-infectious, antiseptic, antiviral, and somewhat stimulant. 

            Application – Lime oil has great application  in skin care products for its astringency for oily skin and is used for its tart scent particularly in men’s perfumery.

            Ingestion – Do not drink Lime oil. There is no vitamin C or ascorbic acid in the oil.

            Inhalation – Lime oil is sometimes used in a diffusor with other respiratory oils for respiratory infections.

EMOTIONAL/ENERGETIC USES (AP OR IN) ~ The essential oil is diluted with calming oils and used by inhalation to calm the nervous system and for insomnia and nightmares.
Energetically, it is too energizing to be used in meditation, but it is helpful if you wish to concentrate on something in particular. In spells it is used to freshen, purify, and cleanse an object or tool.

DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION ~ Diffused as a disinfectant in sick rooms and to protect against contagious ailments. Lime oil works best when it is in a blend with other oils that also are both gentle and disinfectant. Try Rosemary/Lime, or Lime/Lemon, or Black Pepper/Lime.   All interesting with unique scents.                        


BLENDING ~ Lime oil, both cold-pressed and steam-distilled, blends with other citrus as well as oils with a citrus scent such as Clary Sage and Citronella but also to brighten up deep floral absolutes such as Champa, and tame spicy oils such as Ginger and Black Pepper. It can add a bright touch of citrus to an overly sweet floral perfume.

            Citrus Notes ~ Citrus oils are used in the perfumery business to impart a fresh, sparkling note to any blend. They are usually not overpowering. They can be used in up to 25% as the base for a classic type of eau de cologne. Citrus oils harmonize with many other essential oils, and they are used in different concentrations in almost all scent blends and modern perfumes.  

>In combination with Lavender oil, citrus oils are the base for English Lavender which is an 1826 creation.<  High concentrations of citrus oils are in Chanel No. 5 (1921). Also of importance are the citrus oils in pop drinks like Coca-Cola and others.<


HYDROSOL ~ I have used Lime Hydrosol and found it very pleasant in scent and useful as an astringent on oily skin. The hydrosol can be added to non-alcoholic drinks for a pleasant acidic citrus taste. Add only a teaspoonful until you know how much taste you wish in your tea or drink.

            If you place the Lime hydrosol into a spray bottle, you can spray the inside of a cocktail glass to add a bit of flavor and tartness to your drink — try with Margarita, Daiquiri, Mojito, Cosmopolitan or Gimlet.

         Read Harvest to Hydrosol, a book by Ann Harman. She has published several Lime hydrosol GC/MS; one in her book and others at her Circle H website. These are an excellent source of information about the chemistry of the hydrosols. One Lime Hydrosol GC/MS with 0.0259% oil in the hydrosol shows a large quantity of a-terpineol, terpinene-4-ol and other monoterpenols as well as geranial and neral (aldehydes) and more. Every distillation will yield a slightly different chart depending on the species or variety being distilled.

11.Limes x 4 – photo by JeanneRose


HERBAL USES OF LIME ~ Lime juice is high in (sour) limonene and ascorbic acid and is high in beta- carotene and considered helpful for cancer prevention and is drunk with water for diarrhea and cramps and used externally as a wash for dandruff.

            “Distilled lime oil is the chief flavoring ingredient of carbonated nonalcoholic beverages such as Ginger ale, cola drinks and ice cream and baked goods and candy7.—Guenther vol. III

Kaffir Lime –Thai food has a unique fragrance because of the addition of this small, knobbly, rough-skinned citrus. Both the rind of the fruit and the equally perfumed leaves sliced into thin threads or lightly bruised and left whole when added to curries is a defining aromatic touch. The leaves, if you’ve bought more than you can use in a recipe, freeze well for future use. Or, if you like, drop a couple of leaves into a gin and tonic, a mojito, or a pitcher of lemonade for an exotic twist.

12.Photo by Jeanne Rose


“Lemon and Orange oils and other citrus even improve after a year or two of cold storage in that some of the dissolved waxes separate from the oil and may be removed easily by filtration. The resulting oils are more soluble and produce clearer extracts. Neither odor nor flavor is impaired if the oils are kept in tin-lined fully filled drums.”7

KEY USE~ Oil of Food & Beverage

13. Personal drawing for a JeanneRose Book



TOP NOTE  is 25 drops total of a combination of Linden, Bergamot, and white grapefruit
   Bridge of 1 drop of Lime preferably (Keffir Lime) or Lime CP. A little goes a long way.

HEART NOTE is 25 drops of Patchouli and “sugar”. The ‘Sugar” is something that we make in class and is an equal combination of Pink Grapefruit and yellow Lemon, with a bit of Neroli, Patchouli, and Tangerine made to suit the individual perfumer.
   Bridge of 1 drop Spearmint       
BASE NOTE of 25 drops of Oakmoss and Sarsaparilla (mostly Oakmoss).                                          FIXATIVE NOTE is the Oakmoss, which will hold and fix this scent that Bret called “Mojito”.

            >75 drops total + 228 drops cane or orange spirits. This makes a 25% scent to 75% EtOH<

            Make the scent, succuss it, age it, succuss again, add the neutral spirits, succuss again, age and then smell, bottle, and label.


TOP NOTE is Neroli 8 and
Bergamot 8
            Bridge of Lime 2-4
HEART NOTE is Sandalwood 8 and Lavender 8 (which Lavender oil you use is very important)
            Bridge of Cedar-wood 4
BASE NOTE is Basil 8 and

Clove 1-2

            Total about 50 drops, let this age for 2 weeks, then adjust the formula to suit yourself, add the 95% neutral grape spirits as a diluent – about 150 drops for a 25% perfume percentage or 300 drops for a cologne percentage. Let it age again for several weeks before using.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS ~ Limes, when handled or cut, and Lime oil cold-pressed are photosensitizing when used undiluted upon exposure to the sun directly after application. They contain furanocoumarins (natural chemicals found in certain essential oils). Be wary. Lime peel oil steam-distilled does not have the plant components that cause photosensitivity.

Key Limes   – photo by JeanneRose… 14

SCIENCE ARTICLE ~ “Even though citrus is a common fruit and easy to use daily, it contains many beneficial substances for human health. It may be a miracle fruit. The phytochemical substances such as alkaloids, carotenoids, coumarins, essential oils, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and triterpenoids exist in citrus abundantly. All these substances have a range of pharmacological properties, especially anticancer properties. C. x aurantifolia was studied for its effect against carcinogenesis by mechanisms such as stopping cancer cell mobility in the circulatory system, inhibiting metastasis, blocking the angiogenesis, and Inducing tumor suppressor gene and apoptosis. The present review suggests that C. x aurantifolia consumption may be used for cancer therapy.5.”

1 A classification for edible Citrus (Rutaceae) D.J. Mabberley, unknown date
3 A classification for edible Citrus (Rutaceae) D.J. Mabberley, 1997
4 Ohloff, Günther:  SCENT AND FRAGRANCES: Springer-Verlag. 1990. Translated by Pickenhagen and Lawrence {this is the main source}|
5 Pharmacogn Rev. 2016 Jul-Dec; 10(20): 118–122.doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.194043. Anticancer Activity of Key LimeCitrus aurantifoliabyNithithep Narang, and Wannee Jiraungkoorskul
6 Changes in the Peel Oil Composition of Kagzi Lime (Citrus x aurantifolia Swingle) during Ripening
7Guenther: THE ESSENTIAL OILS, volume III, Citrus oils: Krieger. 1949.

Harman, Ann. Harvest to Hydrosol [ ]
Mabberley, D.J., Mabberley’s Plant Book, 2008 Third Edition with 2014 updates, Cambridge University Press
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.
Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book.
Williams, David G.: THE CHEMISTRY OF ESSENTIAL OILS: Micelle Press. 1996.

Jeanne Rose copyright 2023 ~  May not be reproduced without permission.

SOURCES …….Essential Oils and Absolutes – offers hundreds of products, botanical essential oils, and extracts – including many that are rare and precious. All oils are obtained from aromatic plants grown with integrity and care. They promise you that everything you purchase is of the highest quality and 100% guaranteed. Everyone is welcome to purchase oils and take advantage of bulk pricing.           
Hydrosols Source – I regularly use the trusted distilling skills of April Treona Lancaster of for many specialized organically-grown and locally sourced hydrosols.

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Courtesy of … 15



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