Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is often listed as an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-septic, wound healing, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic essential oil. It has been touted as a natural preservative for our products - and we can imagine how I feel about that statement! - and it is supposed to be helpful for dandruff, lice/nits, acne, athlete's foot, eczema, and just about everything else caused by fungus! Let's take a look at this very interesting essential oil!
terpenes, mostly monoterpenes, with terpinen-4-ol and ɑ-terpineol!
If you'd like to see a list of the terpenes found in tea tree oil, click here!
When you're buying tea tree oil, "...it is fortunate that the composition of oil sold as TTO is regulated by an international standard for “Oil of Melaleuca—terpinen-4-ol type,” which sets maxima and/or minima for 14 components of the oil" (from this paper, which is very good). To continue, "...With biological activity, the antimicrobial activity of TTO is attributed mainly to terpinen-4-ol, a major component of the oil. Consequently, to optimize antimicrobial activity, a lower limit of 30% and no upper limit were set for terpinen-4-ol content." So you know you're getting an oil that contains x amount of this terpene or x amount of that terpene, which is so important!
We can include tea tree oil in many products at up to 2% (but preferably 1%) in the cool down phase, when you'd normally add your fragrance or essential oil. Although it's oil soluble, you don't need to worry about solubilizing 1% in a shampoo or body wash with something like polysorbate 20: At 1%, you aren't going to see it floating on the top of the bottle!
Join me tomorrow as we take a look at the science behind tea tree oil, then on Monday when we start making a few products with it!