The Story Behind Our Tea Tree Oils
April 16, 2012
Every oil has a story and a journey, and our tea tree oil is no different. Its story goes back hundreds of years and to the southern depths of the earth, where tea tree oil was first discovered and where ours originates from to this day.
A Natural Discovery
Distilled from the leaves of the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia shrub, tea tree oil has long been used by Aborigines and natives to help treat cuts and wounds. It was so effective and its healing properties so powerful, that it was believed to be magical. Locals had also long bathed in waters where tea tree oil leaves had fallen and noticed its powerful properties. When Captain James Cook, the first European explorer to chart Australian’s eastern coast, landed down under in 1770, locals showed him and his crew the uses and benefits of tea tree oil.
But its natural cleansing properties wouldn’t be known to the world until the 1920s, when the Australian chemist Arthur Penfold tested and published his findings on the oil. His discovery that tea tree oil’s antiseptic properties were about 12 times stronger than carbolic acid put it in the spotlight of medicinal research for years to come. Scientific journals reported on its effectiveness, so much so that by the 1940s, Australian soldiers were given tea tree oils in their first aid kits during WWII.
From Australia to the US
Soon after Desert Essence was founded in 1978, we introduced Tea Tree Oil to the US market. We not only strived to provide consumers with a natural, equally effective antiseptic, we also set out to provide the highest quality oil possible. Our oil comes exclusively from plantations in Australia with whom we have long-standing relationships. Known for their environmentally-friendly practices, these growers and suppliers of our oils are pioneers in the development of sustainable practices and leaders in their field of research. Desert Essence receives first pick of the crop, ensuring that the highest quality leaves are used and that each bottle measures up to our strict standards of quality and sustainability.
For example, the most important chemical compounds found in tea tree oil are Terpinen-4, which is responsible for antiseptic action, and Cineole, which can cause skin irritation. Our tea tree oils have Terpinen-4 levels of 38% or more, well above industry average, and cineole levels of less than 3%, which is well below industry average. Low cineole levels mean there is a lower chance of skin irritation.
The result is clear to the eye: the purity and quality of a batch of tea tree oil can be measured by its clarity, and ours is water-white and bottled in clear glass bottles so you can see the difference.
Our standards go beyond the bottle. No chemicals are used in the processing of our oils. Our growers operate environmentally sustainable, ecologically responsible plantations. Our 100% Organic Tea Tree Oils are grown in USDA certified facilities, where all harvesting is done by hand and wood fired burners using waste wood distill the oil. Solar energy and a state-of-the-art irrigation system are used to harvest the 100% Australian Oil, and the lands where our Eco-Harvest® oils stem from are protected by two alpacas and a sheep dog, who control weeds and grass.