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peppermint oil[′pep·ər‚mint ‚ȯil]
a natural essential oil obtained by distilling the flowers and green parts of the peppermint plant (Mentha piperita) with aqueous steam. The colorless fluid has a strong peppermint aroma and a bitter, refreshing flavor. Its density at 20°C is 0.900–0.910 g/cm3; it dissolves readily in alcohol. Peppermint oil is made up of about 100 components, the principal ones being /-menthol (up to 50 percent), menthone (approximately 25 percent), menthyl acetate, and cineole. The oil has antiseptic, anesthetic, and vasodilating properties. It is used for aromatizing candies, cakes, beverages, tobacco, toothpaste, and elixirs.
Mint oils from other species of mint, such as Mentha arvensis, serve as the principal sources of natural menthol.