Those of you who follow this blog regularly know that I’m a huge proponent of a natural lifestyle. It seems like every day there is a new study out showing the dangers of the synthetic chemicals in products we encounter every day, from processed foods to household cleaners.
The most recent scandal focuses on triclosan, the bacteria-fighting ingredient in Colgate Total, as well as many soaps, detergents, and other products. In studies done on mice, rats and frogs, this ingredient has been shown to cause reduced fertility, development issues in fetuses, and increased cancer risk.
So, what’s a person to do? Look for natural solutions, of course!
Recently I learned about Apothecary Extracts’ Tea Tree Oil. This stuff is packed with health benefits, most notably it’s ability to kill bacteria, viruses, yeast, and fungi. It is a pure oil culled from the leaves of a tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) native to Australia, where it was originally used by the local aborigines as a topical treatment for the skin. The Tea Tree is a small tree or shrub with needle-like leaves. It can grow up to 7 meters (20 feet) in height and thrives in marshy areas, though it is now cultivated in plantations.
I was pleasantly surprised to note that Apothecary Extract bottles their oil in a tinted glass bottle. It seems like everybody is using plastic now days, and I’m trying to avoid it as much as possible. The tea tree oil itself has a distinct smell, very hard to describe if you’ve never smelled it yourself, except that it is slightly astringent, or perhaps a mixture of menthol and clove. Either way, it can be a bit strong, though thankfully you only need a few drops to get the full benefits of the oil.
Here’s a look at some interesting info on the label:
As you can see, it’s intended to be used topically only, and never ingested. The uses for Tea Tree Oil are virtually endless, and Apothecary Extracts provides their customers with a free ebook full of recipes and ideas, such as facial masks and acne treatments, dandruff-fighting and moisturizing shampoos, homemade natural soaps, deodorant, toothpaste, and household cleaners.
I was really excited to get started putting this stuff to use, adding it first to my homemade laundry detergent (recipe below) to help fight odor-causing bacteria. The recipe in the book is the same that I have been using for years with great success, and I’ve never once missed using those toxic store bought detergents. The only difference was the addition of tea tree oil, and I was slightly concerned that all my clothes would smell strongly of the stuff. I was surprised to find that the smell dissipates, leaving you with nothing but clean, fresh-smelling clothes.
Some of the recipes called for items I typically don’t have on hand (namely Castile soap), so I made a few “cheater” recipes by using my store-bought shampoos and soaps and adding a few drops of tea tree oil and vitamin E to each. I do plan on purchasing Castile soap in the future to make the recipes as directed, making the switch from the chemical-laden store products, and will probably post my experiences and recipes online as they come. Mostly, I’m excited to try the homemade toothpaste and deodorant recipes, as these are some of the worst culprits for toxins in my house.
A word of caution about Tea Tree Oil and Pets: I originally was interested in reviewing this product as a topical remedy for dogs, until I did a bit more research. In the past, I have bought herbal pet shampoos that included this ingredient, but it seems lately, it is becoming less and less popular. This is because, while Tea Tree Oil is perfectly safe for humans, it can be extremely dangerous when used on our pets, mostly because they lick their fur and can ingest the oil. The smaller the pet, the greater the risk, and I finally decided that I would instead change my focus to human uses for this wonderful product. Please do not leave Tea Tree Oil where your pet can access it – it can be extremely toxic, even fatal, if ingested in undiluted form by your pet!
When used appropriately, however, this product is extremely useful for us humans, so don’t be deterred from using it yourself! Just be sure to keep it safely in the cupboard or on a shelf out of reach from your pets.
Tea Tree Oil is a fantastic way of killing bacteria and viruses naturally, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Apothecary Extracts standards are extremely high in providing top-quality products that do exactly what they say they do, not only complying with Australian regulations, but surpassing them:
The Australian standards require that the oil of Melaleuca alternifolia must be composed of less than 15 cineole and over 30 terpinen-4-ol. Apothecary Extracts is composed of less than 5 cineole and over 35 terpinen-4-ol which qualifies for Pharmaceutical Grade as established by the Australian Tea Tree Oil Industry Association. It is 100% pure and unadulterated. No fillers, additives, bases or carriers added.
If you are interested in learning more about Apothecary Extracts, you can visit their website HERE.
If you’d like to purchase Apothecary Extracts Tea Tree Oil on Amazon.com, Buy HERE.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
Homemade Tea Tree Oil Laundry Soap:
- 1 bar Castile or Fels Naptha soap
- 1 C Washing Soda
- 1 C Borax
- 20-30 drops Tea Tree Oil
- Grate the bar soap, either by hand or with a food processor. I like to pulse the grated soap with the regular blade on my food processor afterwards to get it as fine as possible.
- Mix with remaining ingredients.
- Use 1 T per average load of laundry.
Melt & Pour Tea Tree Oil Bar Soap:
- 1 bar of body soap
- 5-10 drops liquid vitamin E
- 5 drops tea tree oil
Prepare a mold for your soap. You will need something bigger than the original size of the bar, or perhaps several smaller molds. Get creative- use things like heat-safe food containers or foil cupcake liners.
Grate the soap either by hand or in a food processor. Place in a shallow bowl or container and just cover with water. Let set until the soap is soft, about 30 min to 1 hr.
Place softened soap in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring constantly until soap begins to thicken and seems fairly smooth (it may not be perfectly smooth- I thought it looked like a somewhat-lumpy cheese sauce). Remove from heat and stir in the vitamin E and tea tree oil.
Pour immediately into molds and allow to set. You can speed up the process by placing the soap in your refrigerator.
Your soap is ready to use when it is completely solid. Remove from the mold and enjoy!