The oil of wintergreen which has also been mentioned, as being
found at specialty culinary supply shops, is a natural oil derived
from mint, which is edible.
This is me being nitpicky (gosh, that never happens!), but
wintergreen is actually a member of the heath family (Ericaceae) and
not a mint at all. The true mints belong to a different family, the
Labiatae, and the chemical component that gives them their flavor is
These are two entirely different substances with confusingly
From what I've gleaned from Web resources and field guides, methyl
salicylate is the primary flavor component of natural wintergreen.
This is a toxic substance, but apparently only at concentrations not
occurring naturally in the plant, so its leaves and berries are safe
to eat (in quantities within reason) and are frequently used to make
tea. It's also interesting that most of this "wintergreen" flavor
is now either synthesized or obtained from black birch, which also
naturally produces methyl salicylate. These plants most likely
evolved methyl salicylate production in order to combat herbivores,
which is also why we have caffeine, theobromine (one of the primary
components of chocolate), nicotine, and hot pepper.
...On a completely different side of things, I've been wondering
what wintergreen oil can do that another lubricant can't, besides
smelling good. Would. liquid Bur-Life be a good alternative? I've
found it quite handy for things like drawing chain and lubricating,