Reminding us of warm sunny days, Citrus Limon is a small evergreen tree, part of the Rutaceae (citrus) family native to Asia, thought to have first grown in Amma (Northeast India), Northern Burma or China. It is a small thorny tree with bright yellow citrus fruits, cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions. We take a walk down a citrus lane to explore the use of lemon in perfumery.
History of lemons
Lemons entered Europe near Southern Italy no later than the second century C.E. at the time of Ancient Rome. The first substantial cultivation of lemons began in Genoa in the middle of the 15th century, but it was the Spanish conquest throughout the New World that helped to spread lemon seeds. What we understand as lemon today is said to be a hybrid between lime and citron.
To obtain lemon’s essential oil, producers use a method called expression, which is also referred to as cold pressing. It is a method of extraction specific to citrus as the oil is contained in the peel. In the past, expression was done by hand. The rind of the citrus would be soaked in warm water and a sponge would be used to press it, breaking the essential oil cavities so that the sponge could absorb the oil. The sponge would then be pressed over a container where the mixture would be left to stand to allow the separation of essential oil and water. The essential oil would then be collected. In modern times, the rind of the fruit is placed in a container with spikes that puncture the oil cavities whilst the device is rotated. The released essential oil is then collected in small containers below the device. Most modern expression techniques are accomplished using centrifugal force.
The lemon scent is clean, fresh and sparkling; scientists agree that it uplifts our mood and stimulates the nervous system. Widely used in fine fragrance, especially in Cologne in combination with lime, bergamot and neroli, lemon is also present in personal care fragrances. It creates an invigorating and cleansing impression in a composition. It does also, in fact, have medicinal properties, such as being antiseptic. This has meant that lemon essential oil has historically been used in cleaning products, and even today it is a smell that we associate with being clean.
Julie Pluchet, Yú Parfums Perfumer comments, 'As a Perfumer, I love using lemon in fine fragrance in combination with bergamot and neroli for a Cologne effect, or with juniper and mandarin to give a sparkling, fizzy effect. It never fails to remind me of the fresh odour of a sunny day.'
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