What is Menthol?

Menthol (chemical formula: C10H20O), is an organic compound typically found as white coloured crystals. It is soluble in alcohols, light petroleum solvents and slightly soluble in water. Menthol is derived from the oils of various mint plants as well as being artificially synthesised. It has a cooling odour and taste. 

What is Menthol used for?

Menthol is used in a variety of products including; pain relief creams, toothpastes, mouthwashes, cigarettes, decongestants (chest rubs, nasal sprays) and lip balms to name a few. Menthol is typically used in these products for the “cooling” feeling and smell the substance emits. 

Menthol can be derived from peppermint and other mint plants
Menthol can be derived from peppermint and other mint plants

Menthol Hazards

The routes of exposure for menthol include; inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact. 

Inhalation of menthol may cause respiratory irritation and inflammation. Those with already compromised respiratory, kidney and nervous system function may incur further disability if excessive concentrations are inhaled.  

Ingestion may cause severe abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, loss of muscle control, drowsiness and coma. Menthol is excreted through the body in the urine and bile. 

Skin contact can cause irritation and inflammation, characterised by swelling, blistering, scaling and thickening of the skin. Menthol can also worsen existing dermatitis conditions. Entry into the bloodstream through open cuts and wounds may lead to other harmful effects.  

Animal experiments have shown that the material produces severe ocular lesions upon eye exposure. 

Menthol Safety

If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source. Lay the patient down and keep them warm and rested. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, perform CPR, preferably with a bag-valve mask device. Transport to hospital without delay. 

If swallowed, do not induce vomiting. If vomiting does occur, lean the patient forward or on their left side to prevent aspiration. Observe the patient carefully and give them water to rinse their mouth out. They should then slowly drink as much as they can comfortably. Seek medical attention. 

If skin exposure occurs, immediately remove all contaminated clothing and footwear and flush the affected area with plenty of soap and running water. Seek medical attention in the event of irritation. 

If the chemical is exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with fresh running water for at least 15 minutes, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Removal of contact lenses should only be done by a skilled individual. Transport to hospital without delay. 

Menthol Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical and there should always be adequate ventilation to remove or dilute any air contaminants (install local exhaust if necessary). 

The PPE recommended when handling menthol includes; safety glasses with side shields, chemical goggles, dust masks, PVC gloves, PVC aprons, overalls and safety boots. Skin barrier and cleansing creams are also recommended in the event of skin exposure.

Menthol can cause harm if improper handling practices are followed, always refer to your SDS for more information on how to properly handle your chemicals. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at for more information about our chemicals management solutions.