There Is A Scientific Reason Peeling Oranges Is So Messy

Albert Einstein once said, "look deep into nature and then you will understand everything" (via Medium). Whether it is to help ward off a cold, a quick energy boost, or you crave the juicy taste, oranges are an integral part of our daily lives. But as with most things, oranges can only be enjoyed after a little messy work. Whether you're riding the train or wearing nice clothes, peeling and eating an orange can be a sloppy task. And heaven help you if you've been on the giving or receiving end of citrus juice being squirted in the eye!

Since we first consumed oranges, we have sought new and unique ways to peel them without the mess. There was even a trend that began on Reddit, which suggested that eating oranges in the shower would help with the mess and enhance the flavor and aroma (per Spoon University). Mandarin oranges have become very popular, at least in part because they are much easier to peel than other types like navel oranges.

While we tend to focus on it as an inconvenience, there is a deeper scientific reason why oranges can sometimes be such a mess.

Nature at its finest

According to Inverse, the oils in the glands of an orange peel can eject juice at a rate of nearly 10 milliliters per second, which is a thousand times the speed of a rocket launch! This incredible propulsion occurs when tiny pockets of oil glands on the rind burst open when the orange peel is bent back. Researchers believe these "micro-jets"  might be a defense mechanism, as the juice is very sticky and can be toxic to predators like insects and plant microbes (via The New York Times).

Though inconvenient when eating, this curiously powerful ability may be instructive for scientists developing new methods of rapid fluid dispersal, which could improve our current drug delivery systems. For conditions like asthma, such an innovation could aid in developing a one-time-use inhaler that would be significantly cheaper and more effective (per News Wise). A similar application could also be used in bridges, where engineers could implement pockets of fluid in the structure that, when stressed, would burst and serve as an early warning signal for a future collapse.

The messy orange might have more of an impact than you know, so next time you squirt your friend in the face, remind them of the beautiful and quirky ways that nature works.