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Article: Featured Scent: What Does Neroli Smell Like?

Featured Scent: What Does Neroli Smell Like?

Looking for a scent that's sure to brighten up your day? Look no further than the deliciously citrusy and floral aroma of neroli.

This refreshing citrus note smells like diving into a crystal clear lake on a hot summer evening, laughing with friends at a picnic table, and snacking on juicy oranges. Compared to other citrus scents, neroli stands out among our favorites for its enticing green edge. 

What is Neroli?

Neroli is the common name for the essential oil distilled from the aromatic flower blossoms of bitter orange trees (Citrus aurantium). Specifically, neroli is made from the subspecies amara, a spiny evergreen tree with large, green leaves and beautiful white-petaled flowers.

So why isn't it just called bitter orange oil?

Actually, the bitter orange tree is responsible for several fragrances. Neroli refers to the essential oil extracted through distillation of its flower petals. On the other hand, the essential oil extracted from its flowers using solvents is called orange blossom absolute. And the essential oils distilled from its leaves and twigs is called petitgrain bigarade.

The name “neroli” comes from an Italian town near Rome. The flower was famously first distilled by Princess Anne Marie Orsini. She used the essential oil to scent her clothes, baths, and gloves. The romantic scent grew in popularity throughout the town and was even used as an aphrodisiac. 

Nowadays neroli can be found all around the world in candles, perfumes, soaps, and even as an ingredient in the closely guarded formula for Coca Cola!

What Does Neroli Smell Like?

The smell of neroli is citrusy, floral, green, and slightly bitter. Some people describe it as a bit soapy, while others say it comes off as a very "clean" scent. 

When you close your eyes, this refreshing aroma transports you to a wonderful Italian countryside. Its green notes guide you on a peaceful bike ride through the gorgeous hilltops of Tuscany. 

In perfumes and scented candles, neroli is a bright and refreshing top note that provides a lovely citrus zing without being too sweet.  


  • Citrusy
  • Floral
  • Freshly green
  • Slightly bitter
  • Lightly honeyed

Neroli is sometimes confused with orange blossom oil, which is extracted from the same flower albeit using a different method,

When comparing the two, neroli smells lighter and more refreshing. It has a green, watery presence that isn't found in orange blossom. On the other hand, orange blossom oil is deep, intense, and sultry, with a heavier orange peel vibe.

Interestingly, some people say that if you crush a bitter orange blossom, the immediate scent it gives off is very similar to that of neroli before fading into the deeper scent of orange blossom absolute.

The citrusy-bliss of Neroli is featured in a number of acclaimed perfumes: 


  • Goutal Neroli
  • Atelier Cologne
  • Grande Neroli
  • Chanel No. 5
  • Creed Orange Spice


Where Does The Neroli Scent Come From?

Neroli oil is extracted by steam distillation of bitter orange flowers. A heavenly scented water is produced during this process, which can then be used in floral waters and flavorings. 

The primary aromatic compounds responsible for the smell of neroli are linalool, linalyl acetate, and limonene. 

Linalool is what gives neroli its pleasant floral qualities. This chemical is a terpene alcohol found in over 200 plants, including lavender and other citruses. Linalyl acetate also contributes to neroli’s floral smell. It's the acetate ester of linalool, and is often found together in the same plants.

Limonene is what gives neroli that refreshing citrus bite. You might recognize this chemical as being the main fragrance compound found in the peels of citrus fruits like lemon, orange, and bergamot.

Fun fact: it takes 1 ton of bitter orange blossoms to make one kilogram of neroli oil. 

Benefits of Neroli In Aromatherapy

Neroli’s soothing scent has several benefits to the mind and body, including being an aphrodisiac and having calming effects. 

One study showed that orange scents like neroli plays a role in boosting libido. And in the past, it was even used as a cure for impotence. 

Neroli can also be used to combat anxiety and sleeplessness, partly due to the presence of linalool.

So whether you're looking to create a romantic mood or you just want to unwind for a restful night of sleep, let yourself indulge in the perfect evening by scenting your bedroom with one of our beautiful neroli candles. 

Our Favorite Neroli Candles

Lady Day

Inspired by the white gardenia she always wore in her hair, a luminous opening of Lush Green Leaves, Neroli Blossom and Sparkling Bergamot lead to a velvet heart of Creamy Gardenia, Jasmine Petals and Ylang Ylang. Coffee Flower adds a spicy nuance, and a warm, addictive base of Coconut Milk, Sandalwood and Vetiver provide the perfect finish to this intoxicating blend that is vibrant and full bodied, yet graceful and delicate. Just like Lady Day. 

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Sugar Hill 

Like the spirited neighborhood that inspires it, Sugar Hill reflects the ‘sweet life’ fostered by the Harlem Renaissance and that still remains an invigorating force today. A burst of fresh and sunny notes of Buddha's hand lemon and bergamot mingle with delicate orange flower, bright neroli and crisp lavender, tempered by honeyed vanilla and crystallized sugar for a deliciously sweet ending.

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Refined, elegant and undeniably luxurious, sparkling citrus top notes of Bergamot, Mandarin and Italian Neroli blend seamlessly with a delicate floral heart of Violet, Lilac and Jasmine. Aromatic Green Tea Leaves tantalize and awaken the senses, and a warm, addictive base of Sandalwood, Golden Amber, and Tonka Bean provides a magnificent finish to the perfect scent for warm sunny days and magical nights.

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