Vietnam citronella oil – From a cymbopogon species to a high-value essential oil product

27/02/2024 vipsen

1. Vietnamese Cymbopogon winterianus

1.1 Characteristics of Vietnamese Citronella grass

The Vietnamese Citronella grass scientific name is: Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt

This is herbaceous plant. Usually grows in bushes, with many branches, average height from 1 – 1.5m. The Vietnamese Java grass has a widely distributed root system, so it has the ability to absorb and retain water well, effectively holding the soil, preventing erosion, leaching. The economic cycle of Vietnam Citronella grass is long, once planted and harvested every 3-4 years. It is very easy to plant, grows quickly, tolerates drought well, has poor flooding tolerance, and is suitable for high lands.

The stem of Vietnamese Citronella grass has a purple-red color and is rarely used as a spice but is mainly used to extract essential oils.

It grows well in loose, low nutrients soil and high humidity. Vietnam Citronella grass is usually planted at the beginning of the rainy season, watered 2-3 times/month, without the need to use fertilizer. It can be harvested at any time when the stem is 1.3 cm in diameter. Harvest the stems by cutting them at ground level with a sharp knife, or by bending and twisting the stems.

Harvesting Citronella grass at a field in Hoa Binh, Vietnam

Harvesting Citronella grass at a field in Hoa Binh, Vietnam

1.2 Java lemongrass growing area in Vietnam

Javanese lemongrass is grown throughout Vietnam. It’s growing areas are mainly for harvesting and extracting the oil. Because the demand for Citronella essential oil is huge, mainly for use in the pharmaceutical, perfume and cosmetics industries.

Planted Vietnam Citronella grass should be distributed 60-70cm between rows and 50-60cm between bushes. If planted thickly, it will cause a lack of photosynthetic light. If planted thinly, weeds will invade, absorb all the nutrients, and Citronella grass leaves will dry, stunt, decay, and turn yellow.

2. Vietnam Citronella essential oil.

Citronella essential oil is extracted from the stems and leaves of the java lemongrass plant. The essential oil smells like fresh material, rose scent combined with the citrus scent of citronellal and geraniol. Essential oil has a density of 0.96238 (g/ml).

2.1 Constituents of Vietnam Citronella essential oil

Constituents accounting for the largest proportion in Citronella essential oil: Citronellal (30-32%), Citronellol (12-14%), Geraniol (30-32%). There are also other compounds such as Citronellol Acetate, Elemol, Cadinene, Limonene, Geranyl Acetate…

Citronellal C10H18O is a monoterpenoid, the main component of citronella oil which gives it its distinctive lemon aroma. It has a role as a metabolite and an antifungal agent. It is a monoterpenoid and an aldehyde.

Citronellol: C10H20O, Citronellol exists in nature as two enantiomers, designated (+) and (–). The (+)-isomer is more common in citronella oils. Citronellol is used in perfumes and fragrance in cleaning products and repeling insects.

Geraniol is monoterpene alcohol, besides Citronella oil, that also is a main ingredient of rose oil.

Steam distilling Citronella essential oil in VIPSEN factory

Steam distilling Citronella essential oil in VIPSEN factory

2.2 Extraction method of Citronella essential oil

First of all, the material need to be Citronella grass with fresh, qualified leaves. In particular, they should not be choosen that is too fresh or too old because they will not have much essential oil. Before putting the material into the pot, need checking if it is mixed with other grass or other ingredients to avoid affecting the quality of the essential oil.

Harvesting should be performed when it’s sunny, when the essential oil content in Citronella grass is high. Dry them until only 50% moisture remains. Because, at this humidity, the leaves will be preserved longer and also help reduce fuel by 35% and distillation time by 27%.

There are many methods for extracting essential oils such as steam distillation, microwave assisted distillation, ultrasonic assisted distillation, supercritical solvent extraction, … Among them, steam distillation is the most common and popular method. The advantages of this method are simple equipment, relatively fast distillation time, and easy operation. The yield of essential oils is optimized based on distillation parameters: material size, time, water/material ratio.

After drying, the material is put into distillation at a rate of 180-200kg of raw materials/autoclave capacity of 1000L. Note that the distillation time will last about 2.5 – 3 hours/batch.

After about 3 hours, the finished essential oil will evaporate with water through the steam pipe and reach the condensation cooling tank.

When it is brought to the condenser tank, it is still a mixture of water and essential oils. However, essential oils have a smaller weight than water, so they will exist above, so it is necessary to use a separator to separate the mixture of essential oils and water.

A Citronella grass field in Hoa Binh, Vietnam

A Citronella grass field in Hoa Binh, Vietnam

2.3 Uses of Vietnam Citronella essential oil

2.3.1 Repel insects

Using Citronella essential oil can help repel mosquitoes and prevent dengue fever and yellow fever. In addition, using this essential oil also helps prevent lice, and fleas.

2.3.2 Inhibits bacteria

Many experts have discovered that Citronella essential oil has the ability to kill and inhibit the growth of bacteria. It is especially useful to use this essential oil to treat infections in open wounds, colon and bladder infections or stomach and intestinal diseases.

2.3.3 Curative effects

Citronella essential oil can reduce muscle, respiratory system spasms and even affect nervous system spasms. So during the menstrual cycle, Citronella essential oil can be used to reduce abdominal pain as well as reduce symptoms of cramps and cough.

The antiperspirant properties of citronella essential oil extracted from Java Lemongrass help increase sweating and promote the removal of toxins and other unwanted substances such as excess water, fat and salt from the body. Thanks to that, the body becomes softer, the skin becomes healthy and smooth, and reduces fever.

2.3.4 Aromatherapy

Citronella essential oil can help fight depression, reduce stress, anxiety, and sadness. Diffusing essential oils into the air, the scent brings a feeling of freshness, hope and happiness. That is also the reason why many massage establishments and beauty salons regularly use this essential oil to help customers relax more.

VIPSEN Citronella essential oil for export

VIPSEN Citronella essential oil for export

3. Citronella essential oil at VIPSEN

VIPSEN is one of the leading researchers and producers of natural essential oils in Vietnam. Vietnamese essential oil products are produced using advanced methods, achieving high quality with 100% natural ingredients, without additives or mixtures.

Citronella essential oil products are produced by VIPSEN from selected raw materials, from famous raw material growing areas in Vietnam such as Lao Cai, Hoa Binh, Tuyen Quang… Production process from planting to harvesting raw material planning, production and preservation of finished products are always closely monitored by a team of experienced experts and technicians. VIPSEN’s Citronella essential oil products are not only popular in Vietnam but are also exported to many countries around the world.

For further information, please contact:

Phone number/Whatsapp/Zalo/Wechat: +84 868 855 086


Address: D7-TT9, Forosa street, Xuan Phuong new urban area, Xuan Phuong, Nam Tu Liem, Hanoi

Factory address: Bai Dai, Tien Xuan, Thach That, Hanoi.

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