Alpha terpinene is one of the 4 isomers of terpinenes, the other three being beta, gamma and delta terpinene. They possess similar molecular formula (C10H16) and carbon framework but have a different carbon-carbon double bond position. They are all colorless liquids and have an odor resembling turpentine. Alpha terpinene is widely used as a fragrance compound and is one of the components responsible for the antioxidant activity of tea tree oil.
Alpha terpinene is a component found in the essential oils of many plants, such as Melaleuca alternifolia and Origanum majorana and from other natural sources. The oil is recovered through the physical separation process of partial pressure steam distillation, where steam is passed through the plant material to separate the essential oil. Further distillation of the essential oil separates alpha terpinene from other components in the essential oil.
Another method of production of alpha terpinene is using acid-catalyzation to trigger the isomerization of alpha pinene, of which alpha-terpinene is one of the products.
Alpha terpinene is commonly used as fragrance essence in cosmetics and as scent in household products. They are also employed as intermediates in the manufacture of perfume chemicals.
Alpha terpinene is used as flavoring additive in foods and beverages.
Alpha terpinene is used in both veterinary and human medicine as an antibacterial and antifungal remedy.