Lemons have been cultivated for their pristine essence for at least 10,000 years, and the long list of traditional lemon essential oil uses includes disinfectant, digestive aid, household cleaner, fragrance, culinary flavoring, salad dressing, food preservative, liver and gall-bladder tonic, natural hair and skin bleach (though we don’t recommend using lemons this way) and a natural restorer for wood and leather surfaces.

While lemon essential oil uses are myriad, the precise geographic origins of the lemon are debated– every Asian culture wants to claim the noble lemon as its own– botanists now recognize that the modern lemon is most likely a genetic hybrid of varieties of sour Orange, Mandarin Orange and Citron.

Eureka and Meyers lemons are the most common lemons you’ll find in your market today. These and other varieties are cultivated for the array of lemon essential oil uses in the kitchen, bath and medicine cabinet. In addition, many classical South Asian cuisines utilize lemon-leaves as a fragrance and flavoring agent, as well as the fruit and acidic lemon zest. Aromatherapists recommend Lemon to relieve anxiety, stress and melancholy.

When considering lemon essential oil uses, be sure to take two important points into consideration:

1-Lemon juice is not the same as Lemon Essential Oil. Lemon juice is what you squeeze out of a lemon– it’s great squeezed over apple slices and guacamole to prevent browning!  But lemon essential oil is processed from the fruit and aromatic rind of the lemon. Some formulators also utilize a bit of the bitter white pith when formulating Lemon Essential Oil.  In some lemon essential oil uses, like making an Ayurvedic warm lemon drink, or cold lemonade (or margaritas….), both lemon juice and Essential Oil of Lemon may be used. But they are not interchangeable.

2- Be sure that any Lemon Essential Oil you’re considering ingesting is made for human internal consumption. This will be clearly marked on the label. Any cooking, baking, tonics etc. must be made with food-grade Lemon Essential Oil.

A small bottle of high-quality, food-grade Lemon Essential Oil immediately immerses your olfactory receptors in sharp, cuttingly clean, fresh scent-signals that are among the most instantly recognizable in the human fragrance menu. This reason alone may be the explanation behind many lemon essential oil uses: the aroma of lemon suggests hygiene and a welcome respite from virtually any discomfort, especially funky smells, heat and humidity.

A few of our favorite lemon essential oil uses:

First thing in the morning, add a few drops of food-grade Lemon Essential Oil to a cup of heated filtered water. The Ayurvedic tradition teaches that this pleasingly tart beverage, consumed upon rising, helps liver and gallbladder clear toxins. Also helps with digestion and elimination.

In a glass bottle, add a few drops of Lemon Essential oil to white vinegar, and use to clean windows and counter-tops. A safe, organic alternative to harsh, toxic household cleaners. Also good for wiping down kitty litter box and areas where babies, kids and dogs play.

Add a few drops to laundry rinse cycle for fresh linens.

Add a few more drops to organic olive oil for tangy salad dressing.

If you’ve got a lemon tree, or a friend gifts you with a bag of lemons, lucky you. Check out recipes for salt-preserved lemons, a staple in every kitchen in Casablanca. Preserved lemons are easy to make, and will keep for a year. They make a super gift! There are many ways to make them– just be sure to use unwaxed organic lemons.

In the old days, no water was used, and lemons were scored, stuffed with salt, and squished down into jars of their own juices until cured in a cool place, usually for a month or more.

Here’s our shortcut:

PRESERVED LEMONS AU-GO-GO

Cut lemons length-wise, making shallow cuts, without slicing entirely through. Cover lemons in a large pan of water and sea-salt (4 TBSP salt for 4 lemons).  Place a press, weight, pan or pot lid on top of lemons to prevent them from floating. Boil for half-hour, or until peel gets velvety-soft. Drain and cool. Scoop out the pulp (it’s edible– use it in salads), pack the rinds in a sterilized glass jar, fill with sunflower or light vegetable oil.