Ah, peppermint – that tingly, refreshing fragrance we often associate with peppermint tea, peppermint essential oil therapy, and even toothpaste! While peppermint can be an excellent baking ingredient, topical solution, and breath freshener, peppermint-flavored or scented products often use peppermint extract or peppermint oil.
Although these two peppermint solutions are quite similar (especially in terms of their sensory effects), many don't fully understand the difference between peppermint extract and peppermint oil. Read on if you're unsure which peppermint product you need for your upcoming baking project or essential oil aromatherapy.
What Is Peppermint Extract?
Any extract (including peppermint extract) is a mix between one essential oil and a binding medium, which is typically alcohol. The medium carries the flavor and other effects of the extract in question.
Therefore, peppermint extract is basically peppermint extract plus alcohol. Peppermint extract is typically made in one of two ways:
- Soak peppermint leaves or stems in an alcohol solution. With this method, the alcohol absorbs the peppermint molecules, essentially extracting the flavor from the plant
- Diluting peppermint oil with an alcohol medium
In both cases, the resulting product is alcohol that smells, tastes, and acts similarly to pure peppermint oil. But because the peppermint oil has been diluted or extracted significantly, it is a little less dangerous to your raw skin compared to pure peppermint oil.
If you want to make your own peppermint extract, you can always simply dilute a few drops of pure peppermint oil into an alcohol mixture. The concentration of pure peppermint oil included in the mixture will affect its intensity.
Be sure to use a precise, controlled dropper when making your own peppermint extract. This way, you won’t accidentally put too much peppermint oil in your new extract by accident.
What Is Peppermint Oil?
Peppermint oil, on the other hand, is concentrated oil from the peppermint plant’s stems and leaves. Most peppermint oil is extracted through a steam distillation process where the plant parts are exposed to very high pressure and high-temperature steam. The oil then evaporates, cools and condenses, and is collected in another receptacle.
There are additional peppermint oil extraction methods, of course, such as cold pressing peppermint oil (which involves pressing leaves and stems with high-pressure machinery).
Regardless, pure peppermint oil is incredibly potent and has a very intense flavor and fragrance.
Like many other pure essential oils, pure peppermint oil should not be applied to your skin or otherwise absorbed or digested. It’s too intense and could lead to health issues. Instead, peppermint oil is frequently combined with a carrier oil for topical application or mixing in other things.
The Difference Between Peppermint Extract and Peppermint Oil
As you can see, the major difference between peppermint extract and peppermint oil is that peppermint extract includes alcohol or some other carrying medium by default. Peppermint oil is just pure peppermint oil from the titular plant.
However, these two solutions also have several major differences that can affect how they are used:
- Pure peppermint oil is potentially dangerous when applied topically to the skin. However, pure peppermint oil is tasty and fragrant and is often used to mix with carrier oils or is used in baking.
- Peppermint extract is not as dangerous as pure peppermint oil. While applying it to your skin with alcohol can lead to skin dryness, it won’t necessarily cause any other issues. Peppermint extract can also be used in baking and for other purposes.
You can also think of the difference between peppermint extract and peppermint oil like this: peppermint extract requires peppermint oil because peppermint oil is a key ingredient in peppermint extract. Peppermint oil does not need peppermint extract – it exists by itself.
What Can Peppermint Extract Be Used For?
Peppermint extract, thanks to its generally higher safety than peppermint oil, is used for a wide variety of topical treatments, baking products, and more. For instance, peppermint extract may be diluted with water. Then it can be used to make peppermint tea. Other uses for peppermint extract include:
- In aromatherapy, peppermint extract is mixed with water or another carrier oil and evaporates over time. Many find this sensation to be pleasing. Peppermint aromatherapy could help to clear up congestion or lung irritation. Others find the calming effects of aromatherapy similar to the calming effects of certain gummies or supplements
- Cooking. Although peppermint extract evaporates under high heat, it’s much cheaper than pure peppermint oil.
Because peppermint extract can be created at different concentrations of peppermint, pay close attention to just how much peppermint oil is included in any peppermint extract tincture or product. The more peppermint included, the more potent the peppermint effects you may see or feel.
What Can Peppermint Oil Be Used For?
Keep in mind that peppermint oil is approximately four times as potent as most peppermint extracts on the market (though this depends on the oil concentration in a given extract). Because of this, peppermint oil is used in lower amounts than peppermint extract.
Furthermore, peppermint oil doesn’t evaporate quickly, even in high temperatures. In comparison, peppermint extract can evaporate very quickly because of its high alcohol content.
Peppermint oil is typically used for:
- Topical creams, especially when mixed with a carrier oil. It may be used for helping rashes, bites, skin irritations, and similar issues, especially when mixed with a methanol concentration of 16 percent or less.
- Oral capsules are used to relieve indigestion, IBS, and similar symptoms. Peppermint is thought to calm the digestive tract down or provide a refreshing respite from an upset stomach.
- Baking. Again, since peppermint oil doesn’t evaporate under high heat, it’s often preferred for cooking purposes, but it’s more expensive than peppermint extract.
As you can see, peppermint extract and peppermint oil are easy to distinguish once you remember how alcohol is involved. Peppermint extract is peppermint oil mixed with alcohol or some other medium, such as a carrier oil. Peppermint oil is the pure peppermint ingredient that goes into peppermint extract, and it does not necessarily require alcohol or another carrier oil to be used.
However, you should be careful when using pure peppermint oil under all circumstances. Certain essential oils or topical supplements may include peppermint oil or peppermint extract, thanks to peppermint’s unique abilities and delightful fragrance.
Of course, you can also complement your peppermint aromatherapy with the right supplements. Hope Health’s Immune + Organic Supplement is an excellent example, and many of its potential effects complement peppermint’s relaxing, refreshing feelings quite well.
For instance, this supplement can help support a healthy immune system, may reduce tension, and may give you a natural, long-lasting energy boost thanks to its selective mix of 100 percent organic ingredients, ranging from vitamin C to Elderberry to moringa.
Hope Health’s wide range of supplements and therapeutic treatments are ideal for anyone who wants to prioritize natural, healthy supplements and ingredients. Check out our online store today!