Want an all-natural antibiotic and disinfectant? Tea tree oil, A.K.A. Melaleuca alternifolia oil, is the answer. Its list of medicinal benefits is almost endless. A prepping, off-the-grid or homesteading family should at least 24 bottles of tea tree oil for every 3 members of the family or group. This powerful essential oil is a must for every first aid kit, survival kit or bug out bag.
Tea tree oil is made from the process of steam distillation of the tea tree plant’s leaves. Part of the myrtle family, this narrow-leafed, tall shrub is native to Australia, which makes making your own tea tree oil a little tough. This essential oil is a 100% natural substance made up of 48 natural compounds which give it its awesome medicinal properties. Because it is completely a product of nature, you cannot reproduce this oil.
Tea tree oil is known for its ability to treat fungal infections and used for a wide range of other purposes, such as relieving pain caused by arthritis, muscle aches and pains, rheumatism as well as skin and hair care. Known for its healing benefits, this essential oil has been found to have mild antimicrobial properties, making it an effective alternative medical treatment for many health conditions. Read on to find out how you can make your very own tea tree oil at home.
How to Make Tea Tree Oil
If you have a source for getting leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, you can make your own tea tree oil at home. There are a number of reputable online sources that offer this leaf at an affordable price. Make sure that you buy dried tea tree leaves as the oil remains inside the leaves.
- Obtain or buy a small distillation set: The first step to making your own tea tree oil is to find a small distillation set to use for the process. You can go online to buy one, or visit a local chemistry lab to borrow one. A few home brew operations even allow people to rent distillation sets for a short period of time. Stainless steel or glass stills are the best choice but you should keep in mind that these materials can be quite expensive.
- Set up the still: Next, set up your still at home, making sure that you have a flat surface located close to an outlet. However, make sure that you choose a set-up area that is safe and cannot be reached by children and pets. You should also make sure that you keep a waste basket and fire extinguisher nearby.
- Wear safety goggles and gloves: Always remember that essential oils are extremely potent and it can be quite dangerous to breathe in or touch them. The concentration of ingredients makes them stronger. Due to this, you need to make sure that you wear safety goggles and gloves.
- Pour water: After you have set up your still and prepared your working surface, you can start pouring water into your boiling container. Make sure that it is between 30% and 75% full during the entire process. After pouring the water, reconnect the container to the distillation unit.
- Add boiling stones or chips: The next step is to add boiling stones or chips to the water. You will find non-Teflon stones in a number of online stores that offer distillation sets. These boiling stones prevent water from bursting through the still set and ruining your distillation process while it is boiling.
- Place the leaves: Now what you need to do is place as many tea tree leaves as you can in your distillation set’s upper container. It is important to remember that you should not cut the leaves. The leaves contain the oil and if you cut them, it will initiate a loss of all that beneficial oil. Make sure that you pack the leaves fairly tightly, but also leave enough space so that steam can pass through.
Note: You may need to experiment with the amount of tea tree leaves you use so that you can find the exact amount right for your distillation set.
- Start a water flow: Once you have packed in the leaves, it is time to start a low flow of water into your condenser. This is the process that will make the oil flow into the tube.
- Start the still process: Now, you need to turn the hot plate on. This is when the steam distillation process begins. Let the plate heat up and allow the water to flow through the leaves. You will see the leaves start to shrink inside the container.
- Leave the heat on: Once the steam distillation process starts, you need to leave the heat on for 30 minutes to 3 hours. At the end of the first 30minutes, most of the oil should move and distribute to the container at the other side of the distillation set. When the distilling is done, turn the hot plate off.
- Separate the water from the oil: Now that you are done distilling, you can pour the water off the essential oil. When you do this, you will find that the two separate from each other quite easily. You can now pour your tea tree oil into a dark-tinted dropper bottle. The next step is to replace the leaves and repeat the process and make more tea tree oil.
As you can see, there is not much to making tea tree oil. Now that you have made your own batch of this essential oil, you can start using to treat your aches and pains. However, it is important to keep in mind that tea tree oil can result in a skin rash known as contact dermatitis. It is also known to be fatal when it is ingested by cats and dogs, so make sure that you keep the essential oil away from your pets, if you have any at home.
Storage Tips for Your Tea Tree Oil
Making sure that you store your tea tree oil properly is important as it can affect its constituents. Here are a few tips to remember when it comes to storing tea tree oil:
- Essential oils are flammable, with each one having its own flashpoint, which means the temperature at which it will ignite. Although these flashpoints are high, it is not a good idea to store your tea tree oil above a wood stove or range. You should also avoid storing it in a window sill as direct contact with sunlight can affect its color and constituents.
- Exposure to oxygen can cause oxidation of an essential oil. It also increases evaporation and deteriorates the oil. You should prevent moisture from entering the oil as well. Make sure that you store your tea tree oil in a cool, dark place.
- Cupboards in your kitchen and bathroom are great places for storing tea tree oil. A bookshelf that does not receive direct sunlight is also a superb storage area for essential oils.
- You should always store your tea tree oil in a cobalt or amber glass bottle. Also, remember never to use plastic bottles for storing tea tree oil or any other essential oils as these oils are corrosive and will destroy the containers.