3rd Party Testing on 10 different brands of Tea Tree Essential Oil – The Results are HERE!

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After discovering in our first round of testing that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to obtain a quality oil, we wanted to test more companies.

We have the results from our second round of testing!

Back in April I wrote a post, 300% more Tea Tree Oil is sold than produced, after finding out there is three times more Tea Tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) sold than produced. This indicates someone out there is diluting or adulterating Tea Tree to keep up with demand – and no one wants to purchase Tea Tree that is not Tea Tree!

So we raised funds for the chemist and sent them along with our samples to the Pyrenessences Analyses lab in France who provided the 3rd party testing for us.

I sent him ten plain bottles marked only with a number, 1 through 10, and he sent me back his analysis. Because Tea Tree is trickier to test, we not only ran the GC/MS, but some extra physical characteristics as well: specific gravity, refractive index, optical rotation, miscibility, and flash point.

ISO Standards for Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) essential oil has certain standards it must meet in order to be considered “in compliance” with the norm for Tea Tree. These guidelines are as follows:

Tea tree oil composition,
as per ISO 4730 (2004)
Component Concentration
terpinen-4-ol 30–48%
γ-terpinene 10–28%
α-terpinene 5–13%
1,8-Cineole 0–15%
α-terpinolene 1.5–5%
α-terpineol 1.5–8%
α-pinene 1–6%
p-Cymene 0.5–8%

Source: wikipedia.org

Quality companies will regularly run their own GC/MS testing on each batch they obtain from distillers to be sure they are getting an essential oil that is in compliance with standards before passing them on to their customers.

Is More Terpinene-4-ol Better?

It has been rumored that higher levels of Terpinene-4-ol is better. Is that true?

According to the spokesperson of the ATTIA (Australian Tea Tree Industry Association), he has “never seen a T-4-ol  level in pure TTO to exceed 45%, neither has the analyst from the DPI.” When he sees the Terpinene-4-ol level over 42%, he “immediately submit[s] it for a chiral test on the assumption that it has been adulterated with T-4-ol which is a waste product from factories that ‘correct’ eucalyptus, sandalwood, tarragon, pine, fennel and aniseed oils.” (source)

Testing RESULTS Tea Tree Essential Oil

I now have the results for the bottles labeled 1 through 10, and I have put them together for you here with their names and the results:

  1. Aromatics International - IN COMPLIANCE
  2. doTERRAIN COMPLIANCE
  3. Eden’s Garden - IN COMPLIANCE
  4. Essential Oil Exchange - IN COMPLIANCE
  5. J&M Botanicals (organic)IN COMPLIANCE
  6. Native American Nutritionals ERROR: “Melaleuca” (Melaleuca quinquinerva) was purchased and sent to be tested and not “Tea Tree” (Melaleuca alternifolia) that NAN sells. This was a mistake on our part and in no way reflects on Native American Nutritionals. There is no ISO standard for Niaouli oil, but it is Robert Tisserand’s opinion that this is a genuine Niaouli oil, judging from the constituent percentages.
  7. NOW (organic line)IN COMPLIANCE
  8. Plant Therapy - NOT IN COMPLIANCE
  9. Spark NaturalsNOT IN COMPLIANCE
  10. Wyndmere (organic) - IN COMPLIANCE

Tea Tree Essential Oils found “Not In Compliance”

As for sample #8 from Plant Therapy, the sample was not in compliance due to the % of limeonene being too high, as well as the presence of some unusual compounds. Note: Read their response to these results here.

UPDATE: We have tested Plant Therapy’s new batch and they have been found IN COMPLIANCE. Read more here…

Finally, sample #9 from Spark Naturals was found not in compliance. The chemist commented in the report this was due to three things:

  • % of Terpinene-4-ol was too high (read why “more” is not “better” here: Tea Tree Oil Quality and Constituents)
  • % of a-copaene unusual
  • density and optical rotation out of range

Tea Tree Oil Testing Results: Conclusion

The bad news is we revealed two brands that did not fall in compliance – but the good news is there are now more brands to recommend. Hooray for that!

Here are the pdf versions of the documents the chemist sent to me. The only thing I changed was my physical mailing address. I changed that to my websites.

Tea Tree Sample #1 – Aromatics International

Tea Tree Sample #2 – doTERRA

Tea Tree Sample #3 – Eden’s Garden

Tea Tree Sample #4 – Essential Oil Exchange

Tea Tree Sample #5 – J&M Botanicals

Tea Tree Sample #7 – NOW Organic Essentials

Tea Tree Sample #8 – Plant Therapy

Tea Tree Sample #9 – Spark Naturals

Tea Tree Sample #10 – Wyndmere

NOTE: for those that did not fall in compliance, this does not mean all the essential oils they sell are poor quality. This only reflects on the particular batch of Tea Tree reflected by the bottle we sent for testing.

So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all of you who donated to make this testing possible. We could not have done this without you and the wonderful support on the Facebook Group!

We are already taking donations for our 3rd round of testing – this time on Peppermint. You can send PayPal funds to r3testing@gmail.com (no fees, please!). Thank you for your support!

Shared on: Fat Tuesday

Lea Harris is a Certified Aromatherapist with Advanced Graduate training from Aromahead Institute in July 2013, but she is not a doctor. Please consult a trained aromatherapist or your doctor before using any of the suggestions on this website, as the user's age and health conditions must be taken into account before using. The information contained in this website is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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3rd Party Testing on 10 different brands of Tea Tree Essential Oil – The Results are HERE! — 2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Plant Therapy’s Response to Not Being Found “In Compliance” | Learning About EOs

  2. This is a really good start and well done for what has been done so far. I am not surprised that you have had 2 samples rejected based on the ISO 4730: 2004 standard, the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA Ltd) has seen some too. What is not commonly known is that many samples of “tea tree oil” are adulterated and the ISO 4730 testing does not always pick this up. There is more information available on how ISO 4730 can be used here: http://www.attia.org.au/get_library.php?id=349but the people that cheat are more sophisticated and can get round this without being detected if they are careful.

    To combat this ATTIA is developing a test using the chiral ratios of three compounds that are always found in pure TTO (terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpinol and limonene as mentioned in the TIsserand article. Using this test 10 out of 10 samples purchased at random in Edinburgh, Scotland in March 2013failed: they are NOT pure TTO.

    It would be really good if you could have your 10 samples tested using this new test even though it has yet to be ratified by the International Standards Organisation (this takes a long time to happen). Please contact me at tlarkman@attia.org.au for detail on laboratories that can do the testing quickly, there are two Australian Universities and one US University that have developed the protocols.

    My guess is that at least some of the 8 products that you have endorsed have been adulterated with waste byproducts from “normalizing” pine oil or Eucalyptus globulus: effectively industrial waste with who knows what other contaminants.

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