While peppermint essential oil is easily accessible through on-line websites and whole food stores, it can be educational, fun and rewarding to make your own oil at home. It is not nearly as difficult as one may think and can quickly become a great hobby. Peppermint plants can be grown at home or the leaves can be bought. If you do grow your own plants, it is best to harvest the leaves in the morning once the dew is gone but before the afternoon sun hits and starts to dry the leaves out.
It is important to know that the oil you make at home will not have the same potency as what you can buy. The only way to get that same potency is to use a steam distiller. There are at home versions but this is not recommended because the price of all the leaves needed will end up costing a lot more than a bottle of essential oil. When using the following method, you will have a great substitute that still possesses the same chemical compounds, specifically the menthol, that give peppermint oil its amazing healing and medical properties.
What You Will Need
- Fresh Peppermint Leaves
There isn’t a set amount of leaves to use when it comes to making peppermint oil this way. There’s no such thing as too many leaves so grab as many as will fit in your desired container. When looking for the best leaves, choose ones that are all green without any withering brown areas or unsightly bruises. The better the leaves, the better the final oil will be so gather the best leaves that you can. Before starting the oil making process, wash all of the leaves well and set them out to air dry.
- Large Glass Container
This is what you will make the oil in so make sure that it is big enough to hold all of your lavender and other ingredients. It should also have a tight fitting lid. You can use an old food container as long as it has been cleaned thoroughly. A canning jar would be ideal.
- Carrier Oil
A carrier oil is an oil that is used to dilute essential oils so that they are safe to use. Organic oils are typically a higher quality. Some great options include sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and coconut oil. Choose one with a pale color and a mild scent so that it doesn’t overpower the peppermint. Jojoba oil is recommended by most when making peppermint oil. You will need enough carrier oil to fill most of your glass container. There should only be enough to cover the plant material and leave about half an inch of free space above.
- Mesh Strainer
You can use a strainer that you already have in the kitchen, as long as the slots are not large enough to let any of the leaves or pieces seep through. You can also use a cheesecloth or coffee filter.
- Dark Glass Bottle
This is what you will be storing your essential oil in. They store best in dark glass and will stay fresher longer this way. Try to use one with an eyedropper attached to the lid to make distribution easier. Be cautious if using a bottle that previously held a different essential oil. It can be difficult to completely clean the bottle and remove all the residue and fragrance from the previous oil, which can affect the new oil that will be placed in it.
After gathering all of your materials, begin by gently releasing the oils from the mint leaves. This is done by lightly tapping them with a mallet or by grinding them slightly in a bowl. You want the aroma of the oil to release without destroying the leaves. They shouldn’t be shredded or destroyed after this process. If there are any stems mixed in with the leaves they are fine to leave in as long as they aren’t showing any signs of decomposition.
Put as many leaves as you can in the jar without over stuffing it. Cover the leaves with your chosen carrier oil. Place the lid on securely and give the jar a good shake. Place the jar in a spot where it will be warmed up by the sun for at least one full day. The jar can be left for weeks if you have the patience. Shake the jar occasionally during this process.
After letting the jar sit for a day, strain the oil by running it through the mesh strainer. If there are still bits of leaves or stems that are getting through, try straining the oil again through a coffee filter. Once all of the leaves are removed, you are left with what is known as a peppermint tincture, which is a fancy term for an extract that can be taken orally.
To get more and stronger oil, repeat the process. Use the same leaves but simply add more to fill up the jar again. You will end up with a more potent oil this way.
Transfer the oil to the dark glass bottle and store it in a cool and dark place. If properly stored, it should last up to a year, but should be checked before each use after six months. If you would like to help extend the life of your peppermint essential oil, you can add a few drops of vitamin E. You can get plain vitamin E oil or buy capsules and pour in the contents.
The tincture can be added to teas or water, mixed in with a baking recipe, used to repel insects, serve as a memory booster and be used in lotions, shampoos or other skin care products. Avoid contact with the eyes and stop use if any allergic reaction presents itself. Even in this less potent state, peppermint oil should still never be consumed in large amounts or given to children under the age of eight unless approved by a medical professional.