Peppermint (Mentha piperita) essential oil is one of the most common essential oils. It’s easy to find, easy to afford, and useful for a huge list of things from headaches to tired feet and from deterring ants to deodorizing the trash. But there’s more to peppermint EO than meets the eye, or should I say nose.
For instance, here are 10 things I’ll bet you didn’t know (unless you’re a geeky aromatherapist or mint grower):
Right after distillation, peppermint EO smells vomitous and slightly sulfurous
The essential oil is taken through a process called rectification in which the the undesirable (stinky) components are removed to give you the clean, crisp pepperminty smell you’ve come to know and love
The US Pharmacopeia requires rectification of peppermint oil (The USP develops standards for medications, dietary supplements, food ingredients and supply chain issues.)
Peppermint plants need a lot of water to grow but also need adequate drainage. Water-logged soil will adversely affect the quality of the oil
Timing is crucial when harvesting the plant to assure a high enough quantity and quality of menthol (menthol is what gives it that characteristic minty smell) to assure a quality essential oil
Once harvested the plants are left to wilt in the field. The timing of the wilting process is also important, otherwise the plants could lose oil due to evaporation or the plants could start to ferment which will compromise the quality and quantity of oil
The USA produces nearly 80% of the world’s peppermint essential oil, and only about 1% of that is available to the aromatherapy market; most of it’s sold to the food industry.
Common adulterants of peppermint essential oil include other mint species like cornmint (Mentha arvensis) and synthetic menthol.
Peppermint essential oil has 2 sets of contradictory properties depending on when and how it’s used: It can be either cooling or warming, and it can be either relaxing or stimulating
If not stored properly, peppermint oil will easily oxidize and lose its efficacy.
This was a very different type of aromatherapy post than I normally do, so tell me what you think:.
Should I 1) do more posts like this, 2) do occasional posts like this, or 3) don’t do any more posts like this. Let me know in the comments below.