One of the first questions people ask Citrus-O Carpet Care is, “What does the “O” mean in your name?” and our usual response is that it stands for “Orange.” This becomes obvious once people see the decals on our cleaning vans- delicious looking slices of oranges are rolling down the sides, and prominently featured on each side is the face of a lady in the midst of smelling the fragrant scent of a larger-than-life orange.
The truth, however, is that the “O” in Citrus-O could just as easily stand for “Oil”, because hidden in the peel of the orange is a natural oil called d’Limonene that is the basis for all of the amazing cleaning qualities found in our Citrus-O cleaning solutions. It is also the source of our fresh citrus scent that everyone enjoys so much. This d’Limonene is a true wonder of nature, and the more scientists study it, the more useful and versatile it seems to become.
Technically speaking, d’Limonene is a major component of the oil that is extracted from the rinds of citrus fruits during the juicing process. The oil is separated from the juice, and then it is distilled in order to recover certain flavour and fragrance compounds. This d’Limonene is called “food grade” and it is approximately 97% pure. Food grade d’Limonene is usually used for consumer products and has a mild orange aroma. There is another grade of d’Limonene referred to as “technical grade” that is extracted from a second processing of the orange peels using steam extraction. This d’Limonene is about 95% pure, and it is used for industrial products. In its pure form, d’Limonene is considered a combustible liquid. For our carpet cleaning purposes, Citrus-O dilutes d’Limonene with water to a concentration of approximately 15%.
Like all oils, d’Limonene is not soluble in water unless a surfactant is added. A surfactant is a compound that lowers the surface tension of a liquid. The term “surfactant” is a compound of “surface acting agent,” referring to the fact that these substances interact with the surface of a liquid to change its properties. One of the most famous surfactants is soap, which is used to break the surface tension of water. The foaming action of soap helps water get under dirt and grease on surfaces like dishes, hands, and fabrics, allowing the water to carry the dirt away. As anyone who has tried to wash dishes without soap knows, the high surface tension of plain water makes cleaning very difficult.
Here at Citrus-O, we use food grade d’Limonene in our proprietary cleaning solutions because of its purity, consistent quality, and fresh citrus scent. We need this consistency in order to create the exact blend of d’Limonene and surfactants so that our cleaning solutions will give the optimum response under high heat, pressure and mechanical application. Over a year of extensive research and development went into creating the extremely safe and effective d’Limonene solutions that Citrus-O uses today in your home or business.
This diagram shows the various steps in the processing of citrus fruits:
During the past ten years, the use of d’Limonene has grown immensely, with the largest growth being in household/ institutional and industrial products. Just to give you an idea of how varied they are, here is a list of just some of the uses of d’Limonene: Adhesive remover, bathroom cleaner, carpet stain cleaner, concrete cleaner, cosmetic applications, engine degreaser, floor cleaner, graffiti remover, fragrance additive, hand cleaner, laundry pre-spotter, metal cleaner, marine vessel cleaner, window cleaner, tar/asphalt remover, flavouring agent, etc. D’Limonene has also been noted to have insecticidal properties, and has a variety of medical applications.
Besides being very effective, one of the major reasons that d’Limonene has become so popular is because it is a much safer product for use than most other solvents. It is much less toxic than mineral spirits, and although it has been classified as a mild skin irritant, it is not carcinogenic or mutagenic. It is biodegradable, does not contain any ozone depleting chemicals, has a zero net global warming potential, and is an environmentally preferable product. It is listed as a non-toxic chemical in TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), is not a SARA Title III compound, and is not regulated by the Clean Air Act. D’Limonene is also classified as a food additive and has been granted the FDA’s (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) “GRAS” (generally recognized as safe) status.
The medicinal properties of d’Limonene are intriguing and worth mentioning. After doing some research on the subject, one is left with the feeling that, as amazing as this oil of the orange is for cleaning and other everyday uses, its most important contribution may have not yet been found. Studies have already determined that d’Limonene has a mild appetite-suppressant effect, an anti-anxiety effect, has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Being a solvent of cholesterol, d’Limonene has been used clinically to dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones, and because of its gastric acid neutralizing effect it has also been used for relief of heartburn and gastro-oesophageal reflux. But perhaps the most exciting possibilities exist in the field of preventing breast cancer.
What makes d’Limonene so interesting is that it falls into a class of compounds called terpenes, something that all plants synthesize and are used by the plant as a natural defence against insects, environmental stress, and to repair injuries and wounds. Humans naturally ingest a wide variety of terpenes in the diet, which is essential for our good health. For example, all carotenes are terpenes, and many of the medicinal properties of herbs and plants are based on their terpene activity. In terms of cancer prevention, the important fact is that terpenes interact with NF-kappaB, the core gene signal that regulates immunity and cellular inflammation in humans. Because d’Limonene is a terpene that is highly fat soluble, it readily accumulates in fatty tissue such as breast tissue.
The anti-breast cancer properties of d’Limonene have been extensively reviewed in 1999 by researchers at Purdue University and in 2010 by researchers at the University of Arizona. Their research explains that d’Limonene exerts its anti-cancer activity by multiple mechanisms including improved immune response, improved antioxidant defence system, improved detoxification, reduction in inflammation, better regulation of the cell cycle, and induction of death signals in cancer cells. Now, more research and more tests on humans needs to be done so that this large body of preliminary research can lead to acceptable and regulated treatments.