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Terpene Profile: Citronellol

Citronellol is a pale liquid which sometimes has a slightly yellow tint. It is something that many people will recognize from citronella candles. The distinctive aroma is familiar to anyone interested in aromatherapy, candles, or simply in repelling mosquitoes. It is reminiscent of some citrus fruits, rose, and various floral scents.

There are traces of citronella in many essential oils, and it is a powerful terpene shown to provide a range of health benefits. Geraniol, linalool, and citronellol are all acyclic terpene alcohols, and they can be extracted from certain substances, including lemongrass oil, for use as a flavoring or fragrance. 1

This substance is also popularly used in perfumes. There are two different stereoisomers of citronellol and each has a distinctive smell. D-citronellol is the most common stereoisomer and smells of citrus. L-citronellol is less common one, and it has a floral smell which is often used by perfumers to create rose or lily of the valley scents. It is possible to convert D-citronellol to L-citronellol, a property many manufacturers take advantage of because the latter is more valuable. 2

Citronellol is found naturally in citronella, eucalyptus, catnip, citrus fruits, basil, lavender, black pepper, fennel, lemon, rose geranium, chamomile, and sandalwood.

Uses for Citronellol  Citronellol

Citronellol-containing-substances are versatile and can be used topically when diluted with a carrier oil, in aromatherapy and perfumes, in candles, and even as a food flavouring. 3

Nourishes Hair

Citronella oil is a popular addition to many people’s hair care regimens, in part because it helps ward off insects, and also because it can be relaxing and luxurious. In addition, there are some enthusiasts who believe that citronella can be useful for remedying dandruff, as well as for promoting hair growth.

Citronella oil helps decrease the amount of sebum that the scalp produces, making the hair less greasy. At the same time, it helps soothe and nourish the scalp, reducing itchiness and reduce the presence of dead skin cells in the hair.

Repels Insects

The use of citronellol as an insect repellent is well-known. It can ward off fleas, head lice, and other insects, and is considered a mild and generally safe means of doing so.

Promotes Digestive Health

There are many factors that can interfere with an individual’s digestive health, including bacterial infections and parasites. While citronellol is not a cure-all, it can help balance ratios of good-to-bad bacteria, relieving an upset stomach.

Improves Appearance of Skin

Citronellol can be useful for taking care of the skin. For example, add a few drops to a bath can help reduce body odor. It is also a natural diaphoretic, meaning it promotes sweating, flushing out toxins from the body.

It has also been shown to clear out pores, making the skin look more vibrant. Many individuals apply citronella essential oil just before exercise or right after a shower, when their pores are open, for maximum benefit.

Boosts Immune System Function

Citronellol is often used as an immune booster and a general tonic for people who are feeling a little under the weather.

Citronellol helps to increase perspiration, which makes it a useful aid for fighting infections and fever. It can also help reduce inflammation.

Citronellol Safety and Precautions

Citronella essential oil should not be inhaled in its pure form and should not be applied directly to the skin without a carrier oil. It can be diluted at a ratio of 1–2 drops per 20 mL of carrier oil.

If you have any concerns about applying it to your skin, conduct a patch skin test before using it on larger areas of the body.


Citronellol can be used in a number of applications, including warding off insects, fighting body odor, and improving the appearance of skin. However, it is primarily an aromatherapy oil because of its pleasant aroma and powerful benefits.

Classification: Monoterpenoid Citronellol

Chemical formula for citronellol: C10H18O

Molar mass: 154.25 g/mol
Melting point: –20°C (–4°F; 253.2 K)

Boiling point: 201°C (393.8°F; 474.2 K)

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