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Mentha Oil

General Characteristics

Mentha oil is obtained by steamdistillation of Mentha arvensis leaves.

Mentha oil and its constituentsand derivatives are used in food, pharmaceutical and perfumery and flavouringindustry.

Menthol is the main constituentof mentha oil and slow cooling through refrigeration, crystallization,centrifugation and drying is done to obtain it. It is used in the manufactureof lozenges, toothpastes, pain balms, cold balms etc.

Mentha is widely cultivated inIndia and its leaves are used in making sauces/chatni in most households.

Supply Demand Scenario

India is the largest producer andexporter of menthe oil in the world. At present the major producers of mint oilin the world are India, China, Brazil and the US.

Mentha arvensis is cultivated inIndia in the semi- temperate regions in the foothills of Himalayas in Punjab,Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The all-India area undermentha in the country is estimated at about 1,25,000 hectares.

India at present produces about15,000 tonnes of mint oil and exports 3,000 tonnes which earns it foreignexchange worth Rs. 100 crores annually.

India exports different types ofmint oils to a number of countries including Argentina, Brazil, France,Germany, Japan, UK, USA, etc. these varieties include the Japanese mint oil(derived from Mentha Arvensis), peppermint oil (Mentha Piperita), dementholisedJapanese mint oil, spear mint oil (Mentha Spicata), water mint oil (MenthaAquatic), horsemint oil (Mentha Sylvestries), Bergamont oil (Mentha Citrate)and still others.

In the first 9months of 2002-03,India s exports of mint oil were 3,000 tonnes valued at Rs.102.95 croresagainst 2,850 tonnes valued at Rs. 97,91 crores in the same period in 2001-02.

India cultivates about eightspecies of mentha however three species are approved / recognized by thepurpose of quality standards and international marketing.

The country s annual requirementof peppermint oil is about 10ton, which can be met by growing the crop, over10,000 acres.

The mint crop gives maximum oilcontent when it has just reached the flowering stage, after which the oilcontent begins to decline, but in cases where there is delayed flowering, as atDelhi, yellowing of the lower leaves is an indication for cutting in time. 2-3cutting are done during the season.

Freshly cut herb is left in thefield for 2-4 hours during the sunny weather. This partially dried herb isfurther dried in small bundles by hanging over wires in shade till it isreduced to 1/3 or ¼ of its original weight, taking care that the leaves do notget crisp. The crop should not be heaped for drying in the sun as it isreported to result in reduction of oil by about 20-25%.

Distillation of dried leaves ischeaper than that of fresh leaves. By steam distillation and filtration, agolden yellow volatile oil is obtained. Leaves and flowering tops give thehighest yield. About 50% of menthol can be separated out in crystalline form oncooling the oil. The remaining (dementholised) oil is used as peppermint oil.Manufacture of menthol from dementholised oil has been taken up on commercialscale by three or four firms in Bombay, West Bengal and Gujarat. There areseveral small distilleries in U.P also for the distillation of oil.

The peppermint oil is stored incoloured bottles, air-tight aluminium or galvanized containers in cool dryplace. Presence of moisture in the oil may rancidify the oil. Since it isacidic in nature, it should not be stored in tin containers.

The natural oil yields on anaverage 40-50% menthol and 50-60% dementholised oil, which can be used both inconfectionery and medicine in place of imported peppermint oil. Japanese mintoil is not distinguished from the peppermint oil in the Indian trade. Thedementholised oil has been found to contain menthyl acetate (24.4%), freementhol (44.8%), menthone (24.6%) and hydrocarbons (6.2%). Among thehydrocarbons, alpha-pinene, a-1-limonene, carophyllene and cademene arepresent.

Fortnightly Price Volatility in Mentha Oil at Delhi from 2002-04

Volatility              < 2          2- 5        5 - 8        > 8

No. of times       29           11           4              4

% of times           60.4        22.9        8.3          8.3

Source :-


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