What is menthol?

Menthol is a synthetic organic compound or obtained from corn mint, mint or other mint oil. It is a waxy crystalline substance, transparent or white in color, solid at room temperature, with a slightly higher melting point.

Peppermint leaf plants synthesize this compound in their leaves, which may be used as a natural insecticide or to prevent predators, because many predators seem to dislike this smell. In 1771, this compound was isolated from European mint oil, but it may have been used in Japan in an earlier period. In industry, it can be extracted from mint leaves by steam distillation, but now most menthol is synthesized by a complex but more economical method. Amateur essential oil lovers can use grain alcohol or vodka to extract impure mint oil from plant leaves, and separate the oil by freezing, but further processing is needed to separate this pure compound.

Although it is solid at room temperature, menthol can be melted with warm water, and it is easy to produce a strong smell of steam. It is only soluble in water, but it is easily soluble in many organic solvents, including alcohol. Although its toxicity is very low, it has many obvious effects on the body, which leads to various therapeutic uses.

The cooling effect of this compound has led to its use in products that alleviate skin irritation, sore throat or stuffiness. It can also be used to treat sunburn, fever or muscle pain. Most products used to alleviate these symptoms contain only a small amount of this compound. However, pure crystals can be used with warm water to relieve cold symptoms by releasing steam. It should be used with caution because excessive inhalation can cause pain in the nasal tract.

This compound has recently been used as a natural insecticide. It is the active ingredient in some products used to control bee mite infection. Proper use can effectively kill mites and is harmless to bees.