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All About Peppermint Essential Oil

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peppermint plant Kristin Duvall / Getty Images

Introduction:

Of any of the essential oils that we use in candle and soap making, perhaps none is as familiar to our noses and palates as peppermint.

Cultivated since ancient times, peppermint has been a staple of both Eastern and Western medicine, food, beverage and scents for ages.

Whether in herbal tea, chewing gum, mouthwash, alcoholic beverages, cold medicine, tobacco or candies, peppermint is a familiar scent and flavor. It is great in blends for the winter holidays, and great in the summer time too with its cooling properties. It's pretty much versatile enough to use all year around!

Scientific Name for Peppermint:

Primarily mentha piperita

Peppermint Essential Oil Smells Like:

Peppermint essential oil is strong and pungent. The essential oil is more piercing, green and camphoraceous than most people (accustomed to candy mints or gum) expect. It is definitely clear and crisp. It is very "green" with a sweet, inviting undertone. And unlike other essential oils, it's physical/medicinal characteristics mirror its scent. As Colleen K. Dodt says in The Essential Oils Book,"Its aromatic coolness is felt as much as it is smelled."

Peppermint Essential Oil Blends Well With:

Peppermint can be used on its own, blended with other mints or with other essential oil families. I love a little of it with softer, rounder essential oils like benzoin, lemon, orange and lavender. It also works well with greener essential oils like eucalyptus and rosemary. With the citrus, it seems to take on the “green” note…with the greener essential oils, the peppermint plays the “sweeter” role in the blend.

Peppermint Essential Oil Safety:

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless, lists peppermint essential oil as generally "non-toxic, non-irritant (except in concentration), but that caution should be exercised as it can cause possible sensitization due to its menthol content." Lawless advises to “Use in Moderation.”

Primarily From:

Peppermint essential oil is steam distilled from the plant’s leaves. It has about a 3-4% yield (pretty good for an essential oil!) and is cultivated worldwide. It’s a favorite in herb gardens of soap makers everywhere!

In Soap Making:

By itself it’s strong, cool and piercing - it's very...well...minty! I usually think of it as a top note, but with other bright oils, it can act like a middle note as well.

When using it in your soap recipes, be careful…it’s strong! When calculating blends with mint, I use about half as much mint as I would normally use in the blend.

In blends, it feels refreshing, stimulating, clean and clearing. When used in balms or soaps recipes, you can literally feel its cooling effect due to the menthol in it.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes using peppermint essential oil:

  1. Orange and Patchouli
    • 6 parts orange
    • 2 parts patchouli
    • 1 part peppermint
  2. Minty Fresh - Dog Soap Recipe - (great for humans too)
    • 1 part peppermint essential oil
    • 1 part lavender essential oil
    • 1 part tea tree essential oil
    • 1 part cedarwood essential oil
  3. Peppermint Foot Soak/Bath Salts Recipe
    • 2 cups of epsom salt
    • 2 cups of sea salt
    • 1 cup of baking soda
    • 1/4 ounce of lavender essential oil
    • 1/4 ounce of tea tree essential oil
    • 40 drops of peppermint essential oil
  4. Mint Medley Soap Blend - good with the Peppermint Ice Soap Project
    • 2 parts peppermint
    • 2 parts spearmint
    • 1 part cedarwood or patchouli

In Candle Making:

Peppermint, as with most any essential oil, can be used in candles. Most of the above blends work well. Like with soap, it can lend a holiday feel to blends, or a light and energetic feeling. I especially like this blend in candles:

Bright and Energetic - Mosquito Repelling Blend

  • 5 parts citronella essential oil
  • 6 parts lavender essential oil
  • 4 parts peppermint essential oil

In Summary:

In summary, peppermint essential oil is a wonderful oil to start with, especially if you're just starting to blend your own essential oils. It's versatile and affordable. It's also familiar to us...so I think it's a bit easier to use in beginning blends because since we know what it smells like, we can better smell how the other essential oils in the blend work with it.

Once you've experimented with peppermint, be sure to try spearmint and some of the other wonderful mints like corn mint and bergamot mint.

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