27
$\begingroup$

Why do mints make your mouth feel cold? And specifically, why does your mouth feel so cold if you eat a few mints and then drink a glass of cold water afterwards?

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Hmm.. duplicate of chemistry.stackexchange.com/q/558/170, but different stack! $\endgroup$ – Daniel Jun 22 '16 at 2:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Duplicate of biology.stackexchange.com/q/31648/3340 $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 22 '16 at 4:58
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Personally, I think @Daniel's dupe marking is more accurate. I would have been hard pressed to find the post on biology as it refers specifically to oil on the outside of the skin. Granted, they have the same answer, but how was I to know? $\endgroup$ – anonymous2 Jun 22 '16 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ Whatever accurate or not, for me at least, all such link-up helps me a vast lot assemble the pieces to the whole picture. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 13 '16 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ Does menthol get easily evaporated at room-temperature? then the latent heat loss due to evaporation, may be a cause , though partly $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 13 '16 at 19:14
31
$\begingroup$

The feeling of cold from mints is caused by menthol. Menthol affects the TRPM8 receptor on skin and also in the mouth. TRPM8 is also a general cold receptor: so if you are in contact with menthol the receptor reacts just like when you are exposed to cold (Bautista et al., 2007).

The receptor is strongly activated at temperatures below 26 degrees Celsius (Bautista et al., 2007). Drinking water is usually colder than that. So if you ate mints and drink cold water afterwards, the receptor response is even stronger.

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And it's very refreshing! $\endgroup$ – John Odom Jun 21 '16 at 21:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So if I eat mints and drink water that's warmer than 26C, nothing much should happen? $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Jun 22 '16 at 13:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Do menthal and Capsaicin cancel out? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jun 22 '16 at 13:34
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @AlexDeLarge "Today, I am going to eat a breath mint dipped in hot sauce... FOR SCIENCE!" $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jun 22 '16 at 14:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @JDiugosz: It does not seem to cancel out - you actually keep both the hot/pungent sensation and have a cooling effect (I ate a tomato curry spiced with Bhut jolokia and had a Fisherman's Friend afterwards). In fact, e.g. Turkish cuisine uses both spicing with mint and pul biber, probably exploiting these sensory antagonistic effects.. $\endgroup$ – AlexDeLarge Jun 22 '16 at 23:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.