14 Uses for Orange Peels and an Orange Oil Recipe

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I was asked recently what could be done with leftover orange peels?

After researching the answer to the question, I quickly realised I’d stumbled on a goldmine of amazing home uses for orange peels. I had no idea there were quite so many! The more I read, the more I realised just how potent orange peels actually are. Hidden in these extraordinary orange peels, are a variety of powerful compounds that provide a host of uses in the home. I bring you my favourites:

Orange peels can be used for

  • flavouring your spirits-  Take some fresh organic orange peel and leave to soak and infuse its flavour for at least 2 weeks in a bottle of gin or vodka. Use around one orange peel for each 8 fl oz of spirit.
  • exfoliating your skin-  Place your orange peels in a dehydrator or in a very low heat oven for around 6-8 hours or place on a window sill for a couple of days. Once the orange peels are reasonably dry, place them in a food processor and grind into a coarse powder, add roughly ground sea salt and you have the best exfoliator there is!
  • a spa bath.- Dry the orange peels as above or in the strong sun, then grind to a coarse powder. Use this powder to infuse your bath water with antioxidants and the finest scent imaginable!
  • kindling-  The oil in orange peels is flammable, so orange peels make the perfect scented kindling and really give a fantastic boost to your fire.
  • repelling cats-  Cats actively dislike anything that smells of citrus, so if you wish to keep cats away from your houseplants, rub fresh orange peels over the leaves and stems of the plants and then discard the peels in the surrounding earth for a while. Outside plants you wish to protect should be surrounded with orange peels too, this will help keep the neighbourhood cat away!
  • candy-  Sugar glazed orange peels are delicious, dip them in dark chocolate to offer the ultimate treat to your loved ones.
  • salad oil-  Add a great zest to your favourite oil by immersing dried orange peels and allowing them to infuse their flavour. Great for pasta and for salad dressing.
  • preserving brown sugar- There is nothing worse than brown sugar that’s become lumpy. Add a few dried orange peels to your airtight container to draw moisture away from  the sugar, thus retaining its granular consistency.
  • cleaning grease off pans- Fresh orange peels are a great de-greaser and can be rubbed like a sponge into stubborn grease to break the fat up and make it easier to wash in soap afterwards.
  • lower your blood pressure- It’s not surprising that with the amazing antioxidant properties of orange peel the Chineses have been using it medicinally for years to lower blood pressure. Add the zest to your favourite mineral water to give you an extra health boost.
  • preventing bugs and odours in your rubbish/garbage bin – Place a couple of orange peels in the base of your bin before placing the bag inside to eliminate nasties of all sorts!
  • preventing slugs from lunching on your salad- Place orange peels around the base of the plants you wish to protect.
  • prevent mosquito bites- orange peels contain the compound  limonene which most insects detest, rub orange peel on your skin in the evenings to prevent being bitten.
  • make orange oil- see recipe below and what you can create once you’ve made it!

Homemade Orange Oil Recipe

What you need"orange peel"
  • dried orange peels
  • a mason jar
  • vodka
  • coffee filter
  • shallow dish
  • food processor
  • fine gauze
What to do
Warm your bottle of vodka on a sunny windowsill. Take your dried orange peels and grind them in your food processor into a coarse consistency. Don’t overdo it, as you’ll release the oils prematurely. Place the ground orange peels into a mason jar and add the warmed vodka until it covers the peel completely. Shake vigorously for several minutes repeatedly over the following 72 hours and keep in a dark, warm place. Strain the solution through a coffee filter and then place mixture into a shallow dish and place a fine gauze over it. Allow the alcohol to evaporate and when it has, you’re left with your own homemade orange oil!
Safety Information: Both dried orange peels and vodka are flammable, so please take extra care when making it. Although considered a safe alternative solvent, pesticide and cleaner, it’s toxic if ingested in any quantity, so store it safely away from young children. Orange oil is also corrosive,  so only small quantities diluted in water are needed for cleaning etc. Like most citrus oils, orange oil is photo-toxic. Photo-toxicity is the process in which particular compounds can become toxic when exposed to sunlight. I would recommend that you avoid putting them into skin creams because of this.You should not use orange oil while pregnant and as it’s an irritant to both skin and lungs, people with pre-existing condtions should exercise extreme caution when using orange oil.

The benefits of d-Limonene and orange oil are numerous

Limonene, the main compound found in orange peel is natural, green and relatively safe, which makes it a great alternative to using toxic, synthetic chemicals. With its powerful antiseptic properties, it’s a superb cleaning agent. It also contains a natural solvent that is used in many commercial products such as paint strippers , glues and household cleaners.As it’s an excellent pesticide, it’s also used as a safe alternative to the toxic poisons created by our chemical industries.  Limonene is also the source of citrus fragrance, giving orange oil products their pleasant orangey aroma.

 Orange oil can be used in an

  • All Purpose Spray Cleaner-  Pour 1 litre of water into a large spray bottle and then add 3 Tbsp of baking soda and 15 drops of orange oil and shake before applying to kitchen surfaces, stove tops and the bathroom sink
  • Furniture Polish-  Add 10 drops of orange oil to a cup of flaxseed/linseed or even olive oil. Dip your polishing cloth in and wipe over the furniture. Use a separate soft cloth to buff it up to a shine.

What home tips do you have for orange peels? We’d love to hear from you!

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About Author

Profile photo of Rebecca Watkins

Rebecca Watkins worked as a professional photo journalist and travelled the world with her husband John, before settling down as a stay at home mother to their three daughters. They have recently moved back from the French Alps to an old cottage in Devon, England. Rebecca's days are filled with visits to the beach, animated discussions and in the best moments, happiness and creativity in her family home of five. The other moments are filled with craziness and chaos and she loves those too.

20 Comments

  1. I found you on ladybug blessing linky. Thought it looked like an interesting article and it was also very helpful, been looking for a deterant for the local wandering cat (don’t even know who it belongs to). It’s been my husbands nemesis for a few months now. Orange peel has to be worth a try, better than a bb gun. lol

  2. Brynna on

    Great post! We are huge d-limonene fans! We take it for pretty much everything stomach acid related…heartburn, reflux, upset stomach, neverending hiccups…you name it! It works so well!!

    We never try to leave the peel out when using oranges in recipes. Such valuable stuff in there!!!

  3. Who would have thought it! This is fantastic information. Thanks for sharing it this week at Allergy-Free Wednesdays. In order to be featured next week, you must link back. I’d love to feature this article, so just link back to my AFW post or one of the other hosts. Thanks! Hope to see you back again next week. Have a great weekend!

    ~Michelle, AFW Hostess

  4. I’m so glad to see this post! I never knew what could be done with orange peels. My family loves oranges, so I can’t wait to collect some peels and try some of these ideas.

  5. I should have saved some of my orange peels for this wonderful oil! Sounds very interesting. I love your list of uses for orange peels. I’m going to have to try some of them out. I currently have some sitting in vinegar that I’ll use in my natural cleaner. Great post!

  6. Thanks for the list of uses! I’ll have to try some of them. I cook them and sweeten with stevia.

  7. Alea on

    Great tips! I love using orange oil on my shower doors to prevent them from developing water spots.

  8. Now I would know what to do with my orange peels instead of just throwing them away. I never thought they have much use. Thanks for sharing these. really helpful!

  9. Homeade orange oil is excellent for getting the labels off of jars. It works better then “goo gone” that you buy from the store, and less toxic.

  10. Anita on

    I literally just got tingles when I read your description of the orange spa bath! I can almost smell that incredible aroma now! I worked in the beauty therapy industry for years and have always tried to keep a keen eye out for organic and natural alternatives but that might possibly be the most simultaniously inspired and relaxing idea I’ve ever read! :P

    Did you dream that up yourself, Rebecca? If so, you should be putting these recipes and ideas into a book in addition to your site!

    Anita. x

  11. Sometimes I stumble upon a blog post that perfectly answers a question that brought me to perform a search in the first place – your post is a good example of such a happy encounter. Thanks! :-)

  12. Wow, I need to start using my orange peels instead of just throwing them in the compost bin :)

  13. Aayna on

    Hi Rebecca,
    Great post!! I feel delighted to read this post. I never knew my favorite fruit has such a plethora of other unexplored uses. The maximum use I used to make of the peel was as a scrub. I got a number of valuable stuff through this post. I will prepare the oil. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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  17. I never knew I could do so much more with orange peel than using as a scrub alone. Thanks for this very useful insight.

  18. Congrats on being featured on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

    I hope you will stop by and share this on The HomeAcre Hop :)

  19. I have a jar of vinegar with orange peels soaking right now for cleaning. I haven’t tried the vodka…I’d be tempted to do something other than cleaning with it ;-)
    Thanks so much for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop!!!

  20. David on

    Thanks for the great information on what to do with my left-over orange peels. I was doing a google search for salad oil recipes, and your blog came up. I had no idea that orange peels had so many great uses, and kind of feel remiss that I have been putting them into the trash all these years. My New Year’s resolution was to save money and be more “green”, so your helpful tips came right in time to be very, very helpful. Thanks so much for all of your advice, it is very much appreciated.

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