Methyl Salicylate

Oil of Wintergreen

Methyl salicylate or wintergreen oil or oil of wintergreen can be described as a natural ester produced by different plant species, specifically wintergreens. The plant species Gaultheria procumbens was first used in 1843 for extracting and isolating this compound. So, what is methyl salicylate, it is a compound produced synthetically while used in the form of a fragrance in liniments, beverages, and food.


Methyl salicylate forms a reddish, or yellow or completely colourless liquid. It has a specific taste and odour and is used as an analgesic and rubefacient in some deep heating liniments used for treating muscular and acute joint pain. It is even used in the form of a flavouring element in mints and chewing gums but in small quantities. You can also add this compound as an antiseptic in different mouthwash solutions.

Structure and Uses of Methyl Salicylate

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When it comes to the uses of methyl salicylate, it is suitable for treating minor pains and aches of muscle joints. These include sprains, backaches, and arthritis. Methyl salicylate uses can even be found in chewing gums, candies, toothpaste and cough drops but in minimal concentrations. Methyl salicylate and menthol work in coordination by making the skin feel warm and cool. Such feelings on the skin distract individuals from the feelings of pains and ache of the joints and muscles.


Wintergreen oil uses do not end there. It serves as a warming element in cosmetics and products meant for sports massage. The oil is also ideal for aromatherapy. It is incorporated into ointments and liniments in the form of an anti-inflammatory agent. Nevertheless, it is crucial to understand that you need to keep this product from children below 18 years of age.


Coming to the oil of wintergreen structure, this syrupy tasting member of the family of aspirins is probably one of the most extensively utilised counter-irritants in the market. It is a salicylic acid ester where acidic carboxylate moiety is completely methylated without changing the phenolic hydroxyl.  Methyl salicylate structure is very similar to the structure of salicylic acid.

Properties of Methyl Salicylate

First of all, we will have a look at the physical properties of methyl salicylate. The properties are as under:

  • Minty cool odour

  • Reddish to yellow or colourless liquid appearance.

  • Slightly soluble in water. Methyl salicylate is also soluble in the majority of the organic solvents.

  • Vapor pressure: 0.0343mm Hg@ 25 deg C.


The Chemical Properties of Methyl Salicylate are:

  • The compound undergoes the process of hydrolysis if there is an aqueous base present. The hydrolysis of methyl salicylate results in the formation of methanol and salicylic acid.

Methyl Salicylate Structural Formula

Methyl salicylate formula is C8H8O3. Its average mass is 152.147 Da, and its monoisotopic mass is 152.047348 Da. Now that you know the oil of wintergreen formula and also understand the structure of the oil of wintergreen, you need to know the methyl salicylate IUPAC name. The IUPAC name of methyl salicylate is methyl 2- hydroxybenzoate. Methyl salicylate boiling point is 220 degrees C, and the methyl salicylate melting point is -9 degree C.   

Methyl Salicylate Side Effects

It should be kept away from the reach of children below 18 years of age. It is also worth noting that the product should not be used without the advice of a healthcare professional. Failing to do so might result in several methyl salicylate side effects. Some of the significant side effects of methyl salicylate are as follows:

  • Mild itching, irritation, and redness at the spot of the application might appear. If any of these problems get worse or last for long, consult a pharmacist or doctor immediately.

  • Swelling or blistering at the site of application or unusual or increased pain along with vomiting and nausea or ringing in the ears are conditions that require immediate medical attention. You must stop using this product if you experience these problems.

  • Serious allergic reactions to methyl salicylate are rare, but if any symptoms are noticed like swelling, itching, trouble breathing, or severe dizziness, they must be reported to a doctor instantly.

Other side effects might also take place. So, consulting a healthcare professional is always advisable. Remember, if your doctor has asked you to use methyl salicylate, he or she has already judged its advantages for you rather than the risks of the side effects. So, it is quite possible for individuals not to experience methyl salicylate side effects.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Is methyl salicylate toxic?

Oil of wintergreen or methyl salicylate can be fatal and dangerous if swallowed. Remember, one teaspoon of this compound is the same as 90 tablets of aspirin. Since the skin absorbs methyl salicylate, it might even give way to an adverse reaction if applied topically. Hence, it works to dilute the oil in any carrier oil first and then use it on the skin. Signs of methyl salicylate poisoning include sweating, vomiting, nausea, coma, muscle twitching, rapid breathing or hyperventilation, tinnitus, or ringing in the ears and convulsions.

2. How to make use of wintergreen oil?

It is always important to keep in mind that the oil of wintergreen is best used externally. Methyl salicylate is one of the strongest essential oils, and therefore it should be diluted in carrier oils before being used on the skin. However, even in this case, users need to follow strict dilution guidelines.


When making solutions with methyl salicylate, make sure that the compound makes only 2 to3 percent of the final volume of the solution. So, if you want to go with a dilution of 2.5%, you will have to mix 15 drops of methyl salicylate with at least six teaspoons of any carrier oil.


When making solutions using wintergreen oil, it works to blend it with essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint. When blended with these essential oils, methyl salicylate does not turn toxic and might even be used for aromatherapy. However, it is always essential to use it in consultation with a doctor.