Orange blossom is a perfume ingredient and floral note that adds a floral, sweet-orange scent to perfumes. It’s naturally derived from orange blossom oil, the essential oil extracted from the fragrant flowers of the bitter orange tree.
Orange blossom has a fresh and floral—but also waxy and soapy—scent with a sweet, complex, and dramatic touch of orange. Their fragrance is potent and captivating. Some, however, describe it as somewhat synthetic.
To get the scent of orange blossom, picture yourself strolling through a blossoming bitter orange garden on a warm summer evening. The strong scent from the green leaves and opened flowers of the trees fills the air with a floral freshness, and the oily rind of the bitter oranges adds an intense citrusy smell.
Native to the foothills of the Himalayas, the mountain range in South and East Asia that separates India from Tibet, the bitter orange tree was brought by Arab merchants to the Middle East in the 9th century.
It quickly turned into a favorite ingredient of Turks for making marmalade, baklava, and candy, who then spread its aromatic and delicious pleasures through trade to the rest of Europe.
Nowadays, bitter orange trees can be found perfuming air on the streets of Italy, Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt. These trees are not for the impatient growers: they take five years to yield their first flowers and a decade to produce their first bitter oranges.
Highly aromatic, the flowers of the bitter orange tree are used for two types of essential oils: neroli, obtained through the cheaper and faster method of steam distillation, and orange blossom, produced through the costlier and slower process called enfleurage.
The flower petals are placed between cold layers of purified animal fat or scent-free vegetable fat. A carrier of aromas and flavors, the fat naturally blends with the flower oil and picks up the scents from it.
Finally, alcohol is added to obtain the absolute, a concentrated, highly aromatic substance with a smell that’s more intense than essential oil, which goes into some of your most favorite high-end citrusy perfumes.