# 2758 The Smell Test


Q. What brocho is said before inhaling mint oil and eucalyptus oil?
If I put either one into my nose, both to enjoy the smell and the cooling feeling they provide, but also because it clears the sinuses, do I make a brocho…?
A. Shulchan Aruch (O. H. 216: 2) rules that if the source of the substance’s smell is a tree, the brocho is Borei Atzei Besamim. On shrub, grass and herb plants the Bracha is Borei Isbei Besamim. It includes any plant that has one or many soft stalks or doesn’t last from year to year. If it is neither, such as musk, the blessing is Borei Minei Besamim. A special brocho of Borei Shemen Areiv is recited for shemen affarssemon or balsam oil. As it grows abundantly in Eretz Yisroel it has chashivus and importance over all other smells granting it its own brocho.
Mint is a perennial plant with very fragrant, toothed leaves and tiny purple, pink, or white flowers. It has a fruity, aromatic taste. There are many varieties of mint—all fragrant, whether shiny or fuzzy, smooth or crinkled, bright green or variegated. The plant grows to about one or two feet tall.
Shibolei Haleket (164), Yalkut Yosef (216, quoted in Ateres Paz p. 457), Vezos Habracha (p. 174) and others maintain that the brocho on mint leafs is Borei Isbei Besamim.
Peppermint oil is derived from the peppermint plant; a cross between water mint and spearmint; that thrives in Europe and North America. … Peppermint oil also is used for a variety of health conditions and can be taken orally in dietary supplements or topically as a skin cream or ointment.
Eucalyptus is a tree and there are many(700) species of eucalyptus trees, including popular varieties like Gum tree and Silver-Dollar tree, that can be grown in the home landscape. Smelling the leafs of that tree would require the brocho of Borei Atzei Besamim.
Leaves are steam distilled to extract the oil, which is a colorless liquid with a strong, sweet, woody scent. It contains 1,8-cineole, also known as eucalyptol. Eucalyptus features in a range of preparations to relieve symptoms of the common cold, for example, cough lozenges and inhalants.
A commercial essential eucalyptus oil product advertises that it: Kills 99.9% of household germs. Temporarily relieves cold and flu symptoms when used in inhalation or when diluted in a massage oil as a chest rub. Temporarily relieves mild arthritic and muscular aches and pains when blended in a massage oil.
If oil or water or other liquids (Mishna Berura 216: 26) have been scented by the above substances, if it is is a tree, the brocho is Borei Atzei Besamim. if it was perfumed with shrub and herb products the Bracha is Borei Isbei Besamim. If it was scented with both, one would say “Borei Minei Besamim.” Similarly, whenever a fragrance comes from a mixed variety of spices, one would recite “Borei Minei Besamim.”
If the spices or smell sources are removed from the water or the oil, as seems to be our case, Shulchan Aruch (216: 6) quotes two opinions is any brocho at all should be recited over the liquid since it no longer contains the source of the fragrance. He advises not to smell the oils to avoid a doubtful brocho.
However Mishna Berura (ibid. 32), quotes Acharonim that one may lekatchila recite a Borei Minei Besamim on the oil if the smell is strong (see ibid. 32). He seems to agree with them.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is similar if the essential oil contains original material of the spices.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as advised by Horav Shlomo Miller and Horav Aharon Miller Shlit”a


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