Tea Tree Oil solutions not effective as a viral desinfectant

At the beginning of the Pandemic, in March 2020 after a visit to Italy, I suddenly came down sick. Symptoms were fever, cough, headache and loss of taste & smell…

In light of the desinfectant shortage suddenly suffered by many countries in early 2020, we found that it was difficult to get a safe hand and surface disinfectant to use.

Tea Trea Oil, commonly used in cosmetics and as a home remedy for multiple ailment types.

Tea Tree Oil has excellent properties for wound treatment and we wondered if we could use it as a hand and surface disinfectant within an acuous solution. It is known to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and appears to be of some use against the herpes virus.

It is also added to many hand desinfectants because of its aroma and skin-friendly properties.

Importantly, Tea Tree Oil has to be dissolved: in high concentrations it becomes toxic and can provoke allergies.

There is also the problem that Tea Tree Oil qualities and compositions vary greatly, with known cases of fraud and adultering. Fortunately, there IS an international Standard for it (ISO 4730:2017 Essential oil of Melaleuca, terpinen-4-ol type). UNFORTUNATELY it proved actually very hard to source oil in Germany that claims to fulfill the standard, and the price is way over the normal available oil. Nonetheless, faced with a chronic shortage of desinfectant, and not being willing to donate a good irish whiskey for this purpose, we got our hands on some and ran a series of comparative tests on virus cultures.

However, unfortunately, our laboratory tests with different concentrations that would be safe as hand desinfectants, showed that Tea Tree Oil is not effective against viruses.

It’s better to just use an alcohol based desinfectant. Fortunately, we were able to get a few bottles of high concentration food grade alcohol during the run on the shops at the start of the covid-19 outbreak. This definately helped in getting through the first wave safely and without infecting others.

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By Pablo Rohrssen

Pablo Rohrssen is an Engineer and Entrepreneur. He enjoys creating meaningful products with a positive impact. Based between Germany and Spain, he's been helping companies develop new products since even before graduating in 2013. Before VIDAPRO, he founded a successful web portal on Sustainability & Design, a Professional Association, a Freelance business and a start-up for manufacturing and developing solar PV gensets.

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