How to extract Limonene from Orange Peels

Limonene is commonly found in citrus fruits, and it has a very strong orange-lemon scent. It is commonly used in the flavoring and the perfume industry, but is also used as a solvent. In most citrus fruits, the highest concentration of limonene is found in the peel, so that is where we’re going to extract it from. Limonene is prone to degradation, but using steam distillation, we can separate it without it breaking down. The hard orange portion of the peel of two oranges was shaved off using a cheese grater. Afterwards, the orange should look like this, where the dark orange portion of the peel has been removed. The orange peels can then be transferred to a round-bottom flask. To this was added 100 mL of water. The water also helped to rinse off orange peel that remained stuck to the funnel. Then, a simple distillation is carried out. In this process the water and the limonene will co-distill. Once distillation has started, the distillate will start coming over and we should, in theory, see two layers forming. A total of 50 mL of distillate was collected and, at the top, you can clearly see another layer. This upper layer was removed using a needle and a syringe. Using this method, you need to be very careful not to collect any of the water layer and it’s honestly probably better just to use a separatory funnel. The final limonene product was then transferred to a dram vial. The yield that you can expect is about 1% of the total mass of peel that was used.

100 comments

  1. Did you try to determine the purity of resulting 'compound', for example, using NMR spectroscopy?

  2. I love your videos and watch a few everyday, loving it ! But I have to point out here that what you end up separating is not limonene but orange essential oil. While it's true that it's mostly limonene (>90%), you'll also have other important terpenes in different proportions depending on the orange strain.

  3. so Limonene is essential oil extract from Orange peel? or its a mixture of more then one compound?

  4. It really bugs me that Lemon is spelt with an E: lEmon, but Limonene is spelt with an I: lImonene

    What has this world come to?

  5. Wow somehow ended up watching your youtube videos last night and started working on my organic chemistry pre-lab report and noticed this is the exact lab I'm doing this week!!

  6. Love your videos. Just for clarification, the distillation method you used is called hydrodistillation. In steam distillation you prepare the water steam in separate flask.

  7. Hey ! Would you mind to explain the process mechanism of limonene distilation? I absolutly do not see how it works knowing its chemical and physical properties ^^ Otherwise, very good videos !

  8. Question! Did the orange last longer after the shavings were taken? My theory would be yes as the limonene would be harmful to the orange

  9. Can you get high concentration H2O2 from sodium percarbonate?
    Kind of seems like you aught to be able to.

  10. hey Nile red question for you. possibly a video suggestion. Q. how could you clean up store bought d-limonene de-greaser? could you clean it up through distillation and magnesium sulfate drying? the problem is that the boiling point is so high that I would assume the distillation would obviously be vacuum assisted

  11. I just know that the store bought d-limonene and other solvent products that I've worked with are heavily HEAVILY contaminated with "mystery oils". wheater it be machine oils, inadequate gaskets leaching into the solvents or anything the solvent is in contact contaminates the final product. so it's obvious why we would want to remove these contaminates and would really like to see how someone of your stature take on the challenge. Thanks again, and look forward to the reply.

  12. Might be worthwhile to grate the zest directly into a bowl of water to reduce the limonene lost to evaporation before distillation. It's a fairly volatile compound, so I'm guessing the fine shavings must lose a lot of it before being put in the 'stil.

  13. I first read it as limo-nay-nay and I think I know why I'm not the one doing these videos….What was I saying? oh yeah, great content!

  14. Question! What if we peel off the peels and grind them rather than grinding peels directly? Will it be still the same?(pls answer me)

  15. So may I guess that the citrus scent in soap and other hygiene articles is only as popular because of all the cheaply available orange-juice waste products?

  16. I'm also curious about extracting pectin from orange peels… Or really anywhere. .. I really want one of those little stills now

  17. This is a great tutorial. Can you tell me at what temperature did you distill the peels at? I read that some processes distill between 140-212 degrees but this might be in a commercial setup which is why it would be good to know what you did. This leads me to my next question… what temperature did you have your hot water bath at to get your distilling flask at your desired temperature? The video doesn't look like the water is boiling so just below boiling? Thanks again!

  18. you should do a collaboration with cody's lab! I think it would be really cool! Like this comment so NileRed can see it!

  19. Hey nile , your video was damn good, actually i just need a help. I have done a project on orange peel and we extracted limonene, pictin, cellulose and charcoal. If you can extract any other components ,but this. Plz make video or let me know.

  20. I'm selling chemical for living. "RMC" from Rochester, but in Indonesian branch office.
    Love your chemical content anyway.. 😎

  21. Nile could I use ethanol in this extraction to get a stronger boil and carry over more limonene or would it be better to use water to raise the temperature to get more limonene to phase change from liquid to gas

  22. I wanted to get into organic oil extractions, and was curious if you could separate the oil from the water just by freezing it? Would this damage the oil / impact yield of oil extraction?

  23. I did it too and for there were 3 layers. One very thin white cloudy a bigger clear and another layer but it was only a bit cloudy… I think the thin is the limonene and the clear is water but what's the third one…

  24. Can I use the extracted limonene as an alternative ethanol? Will it have the same efficacy as a regular ethanol? Because I'm doing a Science Investigatory Project about Limonene extract. Can someone help me? please

  25. D-Limonene ( orange oil ) is extracted from orange peels by cold pressing them. When you heat up orange oil it gives off deadly gases !!! Makes you think twice about ' essential oil burners' does't it !

  26. Instead of saying cheese grater or shredder you can call the equipment a plainer. So plaining. From your resident chef.

  27. I made some of this and added it to my brothers sweat tea it sucked his jaws in !!! funny he said it kinda tasted good with one hall of an after taste 🤣

  28. Can i extract limonene from orange by grinding and extract the liquid by washing and distilling it with low temp.

  29. Nice video I learned a lot from your other video,just pointing out what you extracted to be precise is orange essential oil which have a content of +-95% of limonene and rest is linalool and other compounds that are the one that contributes to the smell D limonene actually isn’t really important in the scent

  30. You should look into extraction under pressure using dry ice! It could be an interesting revisit video. My classmate is working on a project using that method and has had great results!

  31. Unfortunately I can't do this trick. My roommate gets skin reactions if she so much as touches citrus fruits!

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