Faking Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia

Retro chemistry image source.

Fifty percent of Tea Tree oil sold in North America is fake. Australian Tea Tree Association extends thanks to Young Living for keeping it real.

Young Living recently received a letter from the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA) congratulating us on providing pure Tea Tree essential oil to our customers!

The letter explains that Young Living’s Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil was analyzed at Southern Cross University using the Chiral Purity Test. “We are delighted to note that the product closely conformed to the expected ratios giving a clear indication that it is indeed pure Tea tree essential oil steam distilled from Melaleuca alternifolia. This is a great outcome, congratulations and thank you for supplying pure Tea Tree essential oil to your valued customers,” the letter concludes.

The ATTIA is an organization formed to purchase random samples of Tea Tree essential oil from around the world and test for purity. A high incidence of Melaleuca alternifolia adulteration has caused this group to purchase and test random samples of supposedly pure Tea Tree essential oil.

A test has been developed to measure the purity of Tea Tree essential oil. In 2015 a study of this method was published in the Journal of Chromatography A, which describes the testing procedure.

The ATTIA reports that “50% of 43 commercial samples tested failed to comply with the proposed chiral ratios. Further, of 15 commercially-sourced samples in the European Union, 73% of these showed significant differences in chiral abundances while Tea Tree essential oil from both North America and Asia also displayed similar results where [approximately] 50% of the tested samples did not match the expected results.” The letter from the ATTIA stated that the organization has “yet to see a sample from China that matches the expected chiral ratios for 100% pure Tea Tree essential oil.”

Young Living scientists have also used chiral testing as part of our Seed to Seal process. In 2012, they published a study on the chiral differences of Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carterii in the Journal of Chromatography A.

Young Living’s Seed to Seal™ process continues to prove the purity of our essential oils!

Source: The Essential Edge, October 2015, p 2.

What happens when a company is notified that its Tea Tree is fake?

This post from ATTIA’s facebook page reveals one of the problems with trusting retailers of essential oils…

Recently we contacted a supplier of essential oils alerting them that some of the “tea tree oil” they were selling is adulterated. We offered to provide them proof of this; clear and uncontroversial proof. Their response:

‘We do not understand why you have contacted us regarding this matter. We are not the producer/manufacturer but simply the trader.”

A part of our response:

“We wrote to you because you, the purchaser and distributor, have a choice about your suppliers, a choice that can be enforced by your ability and willingness to withhold your custom from unscrupulous suppliers. We do not have this power so we wrote in the hope that you would take affirmative action to prevent your organisation and the customers that rely on you for supply of pure, natural products of the highest possible quality and purity from being compromised by profit motivated cheats.”

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2 comments to “Faking Tea Tree Essential Oil”
  1. From Chris Bowerbank YL on Facebook
    I was in a retail store recently and noticed a shelf of Essential Oils for sale at a ridiculously low price. Out of curiosity, I purchased a few to test in our Young Living R&D laboratory. The attached photo shows the results from our analysis of the retail store’s Tea Tree Essential Oil versus a recent lot of Young Living’s Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia). Even though the appearance, color and aroma “seemed” to be ok, laboratory analysis clearly showed that the store oil failed several Young Living specifications. Whatever was in the bottle, it certainly did not meet the Young Living standard. If other companies only “test” via their nose when they fill a bottle, that is not authentication. #seedtoseal (red = fail, purple = questionable)

    Tea Tree Adulteration

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