Orange Oil – is it a scam? If given impression as if it is a complete treatment – yes!
The short answer is — “Mainly Yes, if it is being misrepresented and passed as a type of a complete treatment.
The long-short answer is — ” if a termite company openly informs the public that it is a type of a local or limited treatment, unless that company plans to soak every single piece of wood in the house by it, then no it is not a scam, but still is useless and waste of time and money too”.
Orange Oil is mainly a scam since it is a type of local termite control treatment which is presented to be a full termite control treatment by many. Also, it does not do anything better than other local termite control treatment chemicals do. In opposite, it is a very inefficient type of termite control treatment since you have to spend may be an hour or so on one piece of wood, while can do the same more effectively with a chemical without any adverse health effects. For instance, for exterminating drywood termites in a 2X4 8 feet high stud only 0.02 ounce Termidor SC is needed which merely goes inside the wood. The vapors of so small of a chemical cannot pose any harm to humans because they just cannot breath them since it’s too small. At the same time Termidor foam on that area can take care of the problem efficiently in less than 2 minutes, while you can hardly do a proper job with Orange Oil in an hour or more when you have to inject that into the whole wood by drilling it every 6 inch. It will be much easier just to replace that wood than do this clown work.
I have no idea why an “oil of orange” received so much attention and even made me to write this article. Well, I guess because people like to hear what they want to hear and think that by something like orange fruit one can kill all their termites. Enjoy the article below written by me about three years ago.
Original Article below:
Orange oil for termites is merely another termite control product which if applied properly can reach close to 100% elimination for drywood termites as many other chemicals. There are different concentrations of d-Limonene in different types of orange oil for termites. Along with better techniques of application, combining it with inspection tools and making areas accessible can allow higher level of drywood termite elimination with Orange Oil, than when using common local termite control treatments when the spots found are treated only. One can apply as much orange oil for termites as needed to a house without worrying much about negative aspects of chemical exposure to people, and this is not the case with other chemicals which also can eliminate all termites at the area applied. Also, a better result is achieved when Orange Oil has a higher concentration of d-Limonene- a natural material and the active ingredient of Orange Oil.
There are many other termite eliminating materials which can do the same. However, except orange oil for termites there is no other material known to me personally which has both – a very low degree of toxicity and most likely not imposing any health risk to people living in a house or other property and at the same time being able to dFo close to 100% elimination in the area of application if applied properly. At the same time if orange oil for termites is used for mainly local treatments, which almost always is the case, and if these local treatments were to be done by popular chemicals such as Termidor SC or Premise Foam, then in many cases they will not be that harmful. For example, in most houses local treatments can be done by using less than 2oz of Termidor SC inside the wall voids, which by common sense will not have enough vapor residue or considerable toxicity. However, they have to be done carefully. Even though the label of Termidor allows foaming inside wall voids, we do not do any interior foaming with this termiticide which will cover an area more than 4 feet. If big amount of this material is applied into the wall voids it will have residue which will not be natural or green. Using Bora-Care or Orange Oil in these cases makes sense. Orange Oil does not prevent any future infestation but has better extermination ability. On the other side Bora-Care does a great prevention but requires more time to apply it properly to make sure that drywood termites will be exterminated. We also achieved very good termite control results with Premise Foam in areas such as detached garage where residue will not be dispersed where people live.
For a material or method of termite treatment to be a complete termite control treatment it has to have two features-
a. close to 100% elimination rate at the area applied
b. be able to be introduced to every single wood member in a house or property in a way to achieve its close to 100% elimination rate on all wood members.
While Orange Oil has the first attribute, it lacks the second one.
By other words, orange oil for termites cannot be introduced to every single wood member in a house the way it achieves close to 100% elimination rate. For example, if we take a piece of wood and treat properly with Orange Oil, it can eliminate all drywood termites if they are there in that piece of wood in most cases. However, we cannot take every single piece of wood from a house unless we want to demolish it. Yes some small portion of wood members in a house can be treated without taking them off from the structure by opening walls, drilling through stucco and drywall. But even in that case it is impossible to treat every single piece of wood in a house properly. By other words, just because a termite elimination material can kill all termites if applied at the certain way it cannot be considered a complete treatment unless it has an ability to reach every single wood member in a house in a way it is being applied for complete elimination.
However, for regular people far from this trade to get to that point sometimes is not easy, and those who want to sell orange oil for termites cheap image use it against them.
As mentioned, in many cases opening inaccessible areas and checking for termites and treating them is involved while applying Orange Oil. However, it involves drilling wood members for application every 3-6 inch. Now imagine if every single wood member can be drilled 3-6 inch to claim that it is a complete treatment? Even if one were able to reach all those wood members in a house then in what state a house would be if all wood members, including furniture, wood flooring, doorframes, paintings would be drilled every 3-6 inch?
Several months ago I was interviewing an inspector of one of the most if not the most “famous” orange oil for termites company after he applied to work in Prime Termite. He told me that during their treatments they mainly use Termidor for even local treatments. He also told me that they use just a little Orange Oil since that was the “advertisement”. To me it is not all about making money in this business, but running it profitably without laughing at and cheating people by whose money their personal and business bills are paid. If the person who runs the business that way cannot find normal ways to make his business profitable it tells about his inability not virtues. It is easy to pay hundreds of dollars per phone call and generate as many phone calls as possible and go screw people. It is not easy to create a system which works and make the business profitable without merely being a clown. I wonder how that person “enjoys” his “earnings” if they are made that way?
So, taking advantage from the fact that most people are trusting, do not have time to do their own research, many so-called “termite professionals” abuse the use of a very good termiticide just because it is much easier to market it and sell.
So, those who want to sell fumigations or other treatments claim Orange Oil is not good or is combustive while at the best only 5% of wood members can be covered by it. So, those who want to “put down” Orange Oil know it, but still are “demoting” Orange Oil that way while them knowing it is not true. Those who want to sell Orange Oil, go as far as claiming that it is the same as fumigation, and there is no more need for fumigations in the termite control industry anymore, which itself is even more ridiculous if not the most ridiculous statement I have heard from termite control “professionals” ever. Many of those who use only Orange Oil created all this mess may be because no matter someone talks bad or good about it still people are talking. It creates publicity which itself is a very good advertisement. So, those who “fight” against Orange Oil by completely denying it advertise it even better without them even realizing it.
So, as you can see, companies and termite operators fight for a sale and profit and use unethical tactics. There is a fair competition and there is a dirty game. Orange Oil “promotion” and “demotion” has became a “battleground” for some on “both sides of barricades”. Even though I know some very professional, decent and ethical termite operators who merely tell the truth. These are professionals whose businesses may be will not grow so fast but will be stable and grow naturally not by using unethical ways which always hit you from the back.
Also, many people no matter how impressive are Orange Oil false advertisements and how ridiculous are some claims do not get sold in that image. If I was not in termite industry and heard an advertisement claiming that by Orange peal extract they are going to kill all my termites, I would ask how they are going to get all the wood in my house absorbed with it even if it can kill all termites. Because if it says “all” then you have to treat “all” because simply you cannot know unless you open not every single piece of wood in a house but also open inside every single wood and see if there are termites there or not. This is merely because that we all know that termites live inside the wood and sometimes you can see them flying, their droppings, but most of the time you obviously cannot.
To me an advertisement when an Orange helicopter flies over the city and shoots termites and people buying it seems not only immature but also insults the intelligence of people from my perspective. Also, some convert this business into a “magician show”. Another hilarious video I have seen was an “Orange Oil Opposing” company spraying a small dummy house with orange oil for termites and burning it to show how combustive it is. If it was so easy to take off all stucco, drywalls and other fixtures from a real- not a small dummy house he shows and make all the wood as accessible as in that “model house” and spray with Orange Oil then there would be no need for fumigations- a treatment which that company wanted to prove to be superior against orange oil. Even if it was so “combustive” there could be another material used with it which could lower it being so combustive so that finally we all would be able to get rid off that toxic fumigation. So, from my perspective he was showing how meaningless is a fumigation, which is not the case by at the same trying to sell it. However, many people get “impressed” when they merely see a house “burning” because of being sprayed by orange oil even if it is a small dummy house with walls open.
It is clear to me that all this confusion about orange oil for termites is partially due to lack of not sufficient intervention from Structural Pest Control Board side. When a poor fumigator who works 14-16 hours a day, breaths toxic Vikane forgets to put a sign, he will get disciplined. Some fumigators also end up in jail for more serious misconduct which I do not oppose since they play with peoples’ lives. However, when an orange oil for termites guy screams on TV or Radio that is going to kill all termites by Orange Oil and me, other professionals and Structural Pest Control Board knowing it is not true, no actions are being taken towards to him or the company which he promotes that way.
As to Prime Termite, everything is simple and straight-forward here.
Orange Oil is an excellent termite elimination material, and we use it.
Orange oil for termites is not a complete and a whole house treatment and we never claim it to be.
If one may think why do we use orange oil for termites if it is not a complete drywood termite treatment, I would suggest to read Termite Treatments and Termite Control articles. Though shortly I can mention that the most important aspect of termite control is not killing termites or as many termites as possible but inspecting properly and constantly and designing the most appropriate treatments, repairs and prevention techniques for better control. Also, control is not the same as extermination, and extermination is only a part of termite control, not otherwise.
Update February 2013.
The original article above was written in 2009 at the time of “The Orange Oil Scam Boom”. As I predicted many of people who were doing misleading advertisements closed their doors for merely tricking the public. It can last for a while, but not always, obviously. And if you want to be always in business you just cannot trick people regardless what radio hosts or “high profile marketing professionals” suggest. I do not want to mention certain names though I have told them about it directly on their face during in-person meetings and during the chat when they were claiming that there was no more need for fumigations and that Dow Agro needed to close its doors just because they could patent an idea that if you demolish the entire house you will be able to kill some drywood termites if you put Orange Oil to them. Well, the problem was that if you demolish the entire house to find them all there would be no more reason to get rid of them. In that case one could get rid of them by pretty much everything else such as acidic vinegar or even water if you put enough and suffocated them.
From my perspective the only time using orange oil for termites makes sense is when you do limited treatment in a house by trying to exterminate drywood termites on a wall or other encased area. If you were to use it outside, or can do extermination with less than 2 oz of Termidor, it makes no sense to use orange oil for termites unless customer requests. We have cases when people requested using exclusively natural materials, and it is possible too, will just require a little more extra time.