Is there such a thing as re-distilled peppermint oil?

Hello Mr. Tisserand,

I am curious about re-distilled peppermint.
Someone wrote me recently and said that there was no such thing as a re-distilled peppermint. I’d like to know if this is true.

Thank you!

Close-up of Mentha piperitaA few essential oils are ‘rectified’. Because this is also described as “re-distilled” it has given rise to the myth that many essential oils are distilled more than once – 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades, or distillations. But, once plant material has been distilled, it contains no essential oil – it is never re-distilled.

Rectification involves fractional distillation in order to remove unwanted constituents. The essential oil is put through a second process using a tall, narrow column. In the case of bitter almond oil, hydrocyanic acid (cyanide) is removed, as it is highly toxic. In peppermint, minor sulfur constituents are removed as they impart a slightly unpleasant taste, and most peppermint oils are used in food flavoring.

Two essential oils – camphor and ylang-ylang – undergo a separation process during distillation, so there are five grades of yang-ylang oil (extra, I, II, III and complete), and four colors of camphor oil (white, blue, yellow, brown)! But none of this involves re-distillation.

So yes, there is such a thing as re-distilled peppermint, but it’s the oil that’s re-processed, not the plant. Strictly speaking it is less natural, as something that was naturally there has been removed. In the case of bitter almond oil, no-one is complaining.


5 comments to Is there such a thing as re-distilled peppermint oil?

  • christi

    Yet I have talked to actual distilleries about this and have been told that they do in fact re-distill plant material to create these 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc distillations. So who is right? I’ve also been told by Doterra main office that they sell ‘complete distillation peppermint oil’. Can you explain this?

  • robert

    Who did you talk to Christi, and which plant material was re-distilled? The only essential oil with several grades is ylang-ylang. It is distilled for 18 hours – an unusually long time. Extra is the oil from the first hour of distillation, First is the next 3 hours, Second is the next 5 hours, and Third is the last 9 hours.

    As for DoTerra’s claim to sell ‘complete distillation peppermint’ – no I can’t explain this, as it makes no sense. All peppermint oil is a complete distillation.

  • A bit off topic I know but Do Terra also use the term, “Therapeutic Grade” which they have I believe trademarked and has no legal meaning. I am not commenting on the quality of their oils, never having tried them but I don’t like the marketing methods they employ and calling their peppermint oil, “complete” sounds to me like more of the same.

  • Christina

    So a company that states all their oils are 1st distillations — is this just another’s marketing term like therapeutic grade which the consumer assumes makes it better somehow?

  • robert

    This is an easy claim to make, as almost all essential oils are in fact first distillations – it’s just that there are (in most cases) no second or third distillations! With very few exceptions, this is purely marketing babble.

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