Tea Tree Oil
Deemed “a medicine cabinet in a bottle,” tea tree oil is one of the most commonly used and versatile essential oils in the land of all essential oils. You have probably seen in it in a wide variety of products from soap, to shampoo, to facial cleansers. It really is a gem of an essential oil. We proudly use it here at Wake Foot Sanctuary in some of our products and of course, in some of our foot soaks and we love the cooling effect it has on the skin. It also has a wide variety of uses and if you have never experienced tea tree oil and are curious as to what it smells like, it has a slightly astringent and eucalyptus-like aroma.
This essential oil has a rich history dating back to aboriginal times in Australia. The tea tree Melaleuca alternifolia, is found in and native to Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. The name was coined by the British explorer Captain James Cook. He noticed the indigenous people used the leaves to make a tea that smelled like nutmeg. Captain Cook saw this traditional practice and coined the name “Tea Tree”. But one must note that this tree is not the same as the tea plant that is commonly used to make black tea.
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the tea tree. In addition to making tea, the aborigines used to crush the leaves and extract the oil which was then inhaled to treat colds and coughs. They also used it topically for healing the skin. Sailors also used to brew beer with the leaves.
More recently, during WWII, Australian soldiers would carry tea tree oil in their first aid kits because of its effectiveness in treating wounds. It was so popular during that time that anyone who was in the business of producing tea tree oil was exempt from the drafts so they were free to keep producing tea tree and ensure a large enough supply for hospitals and first aid kits.
Today tea tree oil has a variety of benefits that go beyond cold and wound treatments. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties so it is great for skin conditions such as psoriasis, athlete ’s foot, and even dandruff. Tea tree oil can also be used to make homemade mouthwash and natural deodorant as the antibacterial properties help fight the bacteria that live in your mouth and underarm area.
Beyond physical health, tea tree oil has so many other practical uses as well. Tea tree oil can be used to make your own all-purpose cleaner. If you want to replace chemical-laden cleaners in your home, tea tree oil is a natural alternative. Here is a simple recipe you can make that is a natural disinfectant:
In a spray bottle, preferably glass, Combine 20 drops of tea tree oil, 3/4 cup of water and a 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar.
- Shake well until thoroughly mixed.
- Spray directly onto surfaces and wipe clean with a dry cloth.
- Make sure to shake the bottle before each use in order to mix the tea tree oil with the other ingredients.
Tea tree oil is also an effective insect repellent. You can make your own with a few simple ingredients. Tea tree oil contains terpenes which repel insects from your skin. It is a great alternative to bug sprays that contain DEET which can be harmful when used in large quantities.
Despite the versatility of this oil, you should take precautions before using it. Also, always speak to a medical professional before adding any essential oil into your health regimen.
As with any essential oil, it’s best to use tea tree oil diluted. Essential oils are potent and can be harmful to the skin and cause permanent sensitization if you use them in their pure form directly on the skin. A good rule of thumb is 2% dilution. To do this you can mix approximately 12 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of carrier oil. A carrier oil is a plant-derived oil that is used to “carry” the essential oil into the skin. You can use avocado, olive oil coconut, almond or jojoba.
Further precautions include:
- Be sure to not ingest it.
- Store out of reach of children.
- Test a small area on the skin and wait 24 hours to see if there is a skin reaction. Overuse may cause dermatitis.
- Do not use on pets.
If you want to experience all that tea tree oil has to offer, we invite you to visit Wake Foot Sanctuary where you can sample some of our amazing products that contain tea tree oil. We offer soap and deodorant that contain tea tree oil. And, not to mention, our classic Tea Tree and Mint and our Signature Soothe foot soaks also contain this versatile essential oil. These popular soaks are not one to be missed and is an easy way to get your tea tree oil fix!