Tea tree oil distinguishes itself from other common essential oils in a number of ways: its origins, compositions, and how we should use it (and, just as importantly, how we shouldn’t use it). All essential oils should be approached with caution in how we use them, but this is especially true for tea tree oil to make sure you glean all of its benefits without overdoing it.
To get a full understanding of this useful, popular, Australian plant extract, let’s take a look at its origins, how to safely handle it, and the ways we can use it in our everyday lives.
The origins of tea tree oil are surprisingly exotic and historical. As you may know, tea tree oil is derived from tea trees, a broad label for a variety of trees growing on the southeast Australian coast that sailors—reportedly including British explorer Captain James Cook—would harvest for tea.
Today’s tea tree oil now comes in a few different variations, but its base plant is the Melaleuca alternifolia, which produces the oil terpinen-4-ol. (This will all be on Friday’s quiz.)
The international standard for tea tree oil contains much more than plain old terpinen-4-ol, though. In fact, it contains over 15 different components, with the Melaleuca plant comprising less than half of the overall composition.
Where tea tree oil comes from has also evolved over the years, expanding its pastures past the past origins of Australia and New Zealand. Other tea tree oil varieties now come from Tunisia, Egypt, Malaysia, Vietnam and even the United States.
Tea Tree Oil is best enjoyed for its topical and aromatic benefits. To breathe in its unique and natural scent, add a few drops into your essential oil diffuser and enjoy its aroma. If you decide to use tea tree oil topically, always be sure to mix with a carrier oil to test how your skin will react.
Caution should also be taken into storing tea tree oil, since it can oxidize when overexposed to air or light. Oxidized tea tree oil can irritate skin, so store it somewhere dark in an air-tight container. We recommend our glass Spray Bottle for best results.
Finally, now that we know what tea tree oil is and how to use it safely, here are five instances where it can come in handy.
Just remember, handle with care, always use a carrier oil, and take pleasure in using this versatile, old sailor’s plant!