A Fresh Look at Colgate Mint
Every day, you brush your teeth – a habit that blends into the background of your everyday routine – but how often do you think about that minty taste and the smile it brings to your face? Where does that mint taste, the freshness that accompanies every Colgate smile, come from?
Most Americans certainly don’t associate the taste of their toothpaste or mouthwash with farms in their own communities, or even this country. They would be pleasantly surprised to learn that the great taste of their Colgate toothpaste or mouthwash might start from a farm not far from where they live. Colgate has built a tradition of sourcing mint from local mint farmers, some over several generations.
The quality of mint grown in North America is superior, thanks to favorable climate and growing conditions. Careful farm management through the selection and distribution process play a large role, since mint essential oils grown from the same plants in different locations have different chemical and taste profiles. This is due to soil chemistry and amount of sunshine and water the plant receives during the growing season.
But just as important as the quality of mint is the quality of the relationship Colgate has with the farmers that provide it. These farmers have many choices of what to grow, and we want to encourage them to continue to grow mint. So we visit them at their farms every year. We gather with them and other mint industry leaders to support mint research. There are even town-hall meetings to help understand any challenges they may have growing this crop that is so important to our products. As a result, Colgate has helped support these farmers, and through them, their communities, for generations. That’s something for everyone to smile about.
The Mint Process
There are many steps in the process of getting mint from American farms into the Colgate products we sell here.
Mint is a sterile plant, so they’re started not from seeds, but from root cuttings planted in the fall or early spring. Then it is harvested by cutting it to the ground and piling it in windrows.
The cut herb is picked up, chopped and moved to the distillation facility on the farm. It is distilled by steam moving through the herb, carrying with it the essential oil contained in the leaves.
The steam is condensed into a liquid. Since the essential oil is lighter than water, the oil floats, similar to salad dressing. It is then separated and collected off the top.
The essential oil is sent to a “mint oil broker”, a company which manages and distributes essential oil ingredients.
The brokers put together prototypes, which are sent to the Colgate Flavor Department for approval. The Flavor Department sets every sample in unflavored toothpaste for odor and taste evaluation. Analytical testing is done as well, comparing the character and composition of these natural ingredients to maintain consistency from year to year.
If acceptable, the oils are then bulked and shipped to the Colgate Flavor manufacturing facility, where they are further blended. These blends are then used in Colgate toothpaste and mouthwash flavors around the world.