Tea-tree oil is both nature’s antibiotic and disinfectant. The list of medical uses for this essential oil is nearly endless. A homesteading, off-the-grid, or prepping family should keep at least 24 bottles of essential oil on hand for every three members of the family or group. Tea-tree oil is a must for every bug out bag and first aid kit.
Making vs. Buying
Melaleuca alternifolia trees (a.k.a. “tea-trees”) grow in Australia, which limits the ability to make your own oil. If you live in a similar environment, the steam distillation process must be used to create this essential oil. The essential oil is comprised of 48 natural compounds and cannot be reproduced synthetically. Effective grades of tea-tree oil can typically be purchased for around $5 to $7 per bottle, either online or at a local store.
How to Make Tea-Tree Oil
If you have a source of leaves, use the following directions to make the oil.
- Place tea-tree leaves in a pot and pour in only enough water to cover the leaves. Put a vegetable steamer into the pot over the top of the leaves and water.
- Place a measuring cup inside the vegetable steamer.
- Place the lid on the pot upside down so that the handle nub in the center is pointing towards the measuring cup.
- Turn the stove on high to boil the water and steam the leaves. The water will soon begin to condense and evaporate. The condensation will slide towards the handle and into the measuring cup.
- Put about four ice cubs on top of the upside down pot lid to hasten the steam condensation.
- Once all the ice had melted, turn off the stove burner.
- Take off the lid and pour the ice cube water into the sink. Remove the glass measuring cup next – use pot-holders when completing both of these steps.
- Pour the measuring cup contents into a separating funnel. The stopcock at the bottom of the funnel must be closed. Close the top of the funnel and shake vigorously.
- Invert the funnel and then open to release pressure. The oil will float to the top of the water, effectively separating the two substances.
- Place a glass bottle beneath the stopcock and release the water. Pour the tea-tree oil into a different glass bottle, preferably one dark in color.
- Repeat the same process up to three more times to pull more oil from the same tea-tree leaves.
Acne, Carbuncles, and Canker Sores, Chigger Bites, and Cold Sores: Mix between 20 to 40 drops of tea-tree oil to your current face wash and use as a cleanser and toner to clear up acne. For carbuncles, chigger bites, cold sores, canker sores, and pimples, dab one or two drops of the essential oil directly onto the sore.
Minor Cuts and Scrapes: Clean the area well with water and then apply several drops of tea-tree oil directly onto the cut. Depending upon the size or depth of the wound, there may be a slight stinging sensation, but not any worse than when using peroxide.
Arthritis: Tea-tree oil is perhaps the best way to alleviate the pain and swelling associated with arthritis and carpel tunnel. Massaging the oil directly onto the area of pain two to three times per day often reduces inflammation and discomfort. Mix 20 drops of tea-tree oil with two ounces of a carrier oil, and store inside a tightly closed bottle in a cool and dark space for use as needed.
Allergies: Massage either undiluted or carrier oil diluted tea-tree oil onto the soles of the feet, abdomen, and/or chest to alleviate allergy symptoms. One undiluted drop on each foot enough oil to typically help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. Mix two drops of oil with one to two drops of carrier oil when massaging on the chest of abdomen area.
Asthma: Pour two to three drops of carrier oil into a small to medium sized sauce pan and fill with water. Heat the mixture on the stove for several minutes – do not bring to a boil. As the oil and water begins to cool, place a towel over the patient’s head and breath in the oil and water mixture for several minutes.
Athletes Foot: Remedy athletes foot by apply a mixture of tea-tree oil, a carrier oil, and corn starch on clean dry feet once every two weeks. Mix one tablespoon of carrier oil with 10 drops of tea-tree oil together and massage on feet and especially between the toes. Once the oil mixture air dries, dust with corn starch until the feet are covered. Allow the corn starch to remain on the feet inside socks overnight, or apply in the morning and simply pull on a fresh pair of socks and head out the door to do chores or go to work.
Bacterial Infections: Tea-tree oil can be used to fight bacterial infections in several ways. The oil (either in undiluted form or mixed with a carrier oil) can be applied directly to reflex points of the feet. Several drops in the bath water can also help heal bacterial infections. The same mixture which is applied to the feet can also be carefully applied directly onto the infected area. Use a Q-Tip, clean cotton cloth, or spray bottle when putting the oil mixture onto the bacterial infection.
Bladder Infection: Pour approximately 10 to 15 drops of tea-tree oil into a shallow bath and carefully wash the area. Dilute with a small amount of water if necessary. Skin irritation is a concern.
Blisters: After washing the blister carefully, follow the tea-tree oil cuts and scrapes remedy instructions further below.
Boils: Hold a very warm cloth on the boil for several minutes and then apply two drops of tea-tree oil to the area. The infection housed inside the boil should come to a head and be ready for easy release after one or two treatments.
Bruises: Apply ice or cold water to the bruise, pat dry, and then follow the arthritis relief directions above.
Bronchitis and Bronchial Congestion: For congestion, mix between five to 10 drops of tea-tree oil with one ounce of a carrier oil and massage onto the throat and chest three times per day. For bronchitis, pour two drops of the essential oil into a pot of hot water and breathe in the steam. The congestion mix can be massaged onto the chest and throat in conjunction with the pot breathing treatment.
Burns: Pour very cold water onto the burn area and allow to air dry. Mix five drops of tea-tree oil with one teaspoon of raw honey and drop onto the burn area three to five times per day.
Bunions, Corns, and Calluses: Mix one tablespoon of a carrier oil with five drops of tea-tree oil and massage onto bunions several times per day.
Chicken Pox: Apply one drop of tea-tree oil directly onto each blister and allow to dry. Once dry, dust with cornstarch. Repeat this process every few hours or at least twice each day, until the chicken pox blisters disappear. Tea tree oil may also help reduce or eliminate scarring.
Coughs: Follow the bronchial congestion and bronchitis directions above. You may also pour 10 drops of tea-tree oil into the steamer compartment of a vaporizer and use for 10 minutes, several times daily, to relieve cough.
Dandruff: Mix 25 drops of the essential oil into any shampoo and use regularly to cure and prevent dandruff. To ease itching from a current dandruff issue, massage two drops of undiluted tea-tree oil or two drops of oil mixed with a teaspoon of carrier oil mix directly onto the scalp.
Dry Skin: Mix together one tablespoon of sweet almond oil with five drops of tea-tree oil and massage onto dry skin as needed.
Dermatitis: Mix one tablespoon of a carrier oil with 10 drops of tea-tree oil and massage onto affected region. This process can be repeated up to three times per day.
Earache: Mix two tablespoons of warm olive oil with two to three drops of tea-tree oil and place a small amount into ear with a dropper. Use a Q-Tip to absorb oil from the infected ear after several minutes. Repeat up to three times daily until earache subsides.
Eczema: Mix one tablespoon of either coconut oil or grapeseed oil with 10 drops of tea-tree oil and massage onto affected area up to three times per day.
Fingernail and Toenail Fungus: Use a cotton cloth or Q-Tip to massage one to two drops of the essential oil onto the nail and surrounding skin. Allow the oil to dry completely before using the hands or feet. Repeat this process twice a day until the nail fungus is gone. This same process can be used to eliminate plantar warts.
Household Pests: Reduce the spread of disease caused by common household pests with tea-tree oil. Several drops of undiluted oil at areas where pests such as ants, mice, and bugs have been spotted will deter future entry. Clean cabinets or shelves with an equal parts tea-tree oil and water mixture to deter mice and bugs from visiting your food stores.
Mouthwash: There is no need to run to the local chain store to cure bad breath. This mouthwash also helps keep teeth and gums healthy. Simply mix one drop of tea-tree oil with one ounce of water and shake. Gargle with the mixture only – do not swallow.
Mosquito Bites and Bee/Wasp Stings: Apply one drop of tea-tree oil directly onto the area of the bite or sting. Dilute with a half teaspoon of carrier oil if skin irritation is a concern. Diluted essential oils are always recommended for young children and pets.
Muscle Pain and Muscle Aches: Mix a half of a cup of Epsom salts with 12 to 15 drops of tea-tree oil and dissolve into bath water. To massage sore muscles, mix 10 drops of the essential oil with two tablespoons of a carrier oil and use as needed. The mixture will keep for at least six months when stored in a dark glass container in a cool and dry space.
Mumps: Follow chicken pox directions and diffuse throughout the home to alleviate symptoms. The muscle pain mixture can also be massaged directly onto the feet to help reduce the mump symptoms.
Psoriasis: Mix one tablespoon of a carrier oil with 10 drops of the essential oil and massage onto affected region. Repeat this process up to three times per day until symptoms subside. Undiluted oil can also be used to fight psoriasis if skin irritation is not a concern.
Rheumatism: Reduce the swelling and pain associated with rheumatism by mixing two tablespoons of a carrier oil with 20 drops of tea-tree oil. Massage the mixture onto the affected area up to three times per day.
Ringworm: Mix one drop of lavender oil with one drop of tea-tree oil and gently rub onto the ringworm spot. Undiluted tea-tree oil is also very effective in removing ringworm, but may irritate sensitive skin when used several times a day for an entire week.
Skin Rashes, Scabies, and Rubella: Mix equal parts coconut oil and tea-tree oil and gently rub on skin rashes.
The essential oil is widely regarded to be safe, gentle on the skin, and has few side effects when used correctly. Do not swallow tea-tree oil. 1,8-cinelole, a substance that is known to irritate the skin of some users, is present in various quantities of tea-tree oil. I have recommended and handed out the oil to a multitude of friends and acquaintances, and none have ever reported anything but positive results without any side effects.
Using any undiluted essential oil is not recommended for folks with sensitive skin. Carrier oils can be used to dilute essential oils without reducing the effectiveness of the natural medication. When fixing up home remedies for our dogs, I use only 1 drop of tea-tree oil per every five pounds of the dog’s weight. Some pets do have a negative reaction to the oil, so use sparingly and adjust amounts as necessary.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction or tea-tree oil poisoning include loss of muscle control in the legs and arms, disorientation, drowsiness, and rash.