Woodside Oils, an essential oil distillery owned and operated by dōTERRA, will produce the first pure Birch essential oil in the Global Aromatherapy and Essential Oils market.
Nestled among the Allegheny National Forest in the small town of Kane in northwest Pennsylvania, dōTERRA hosted a grand opening and ribbon cutting event on April 4, 2023, for its new birch oil distillery. This grand opening marks the world’s first commercial-scale birch distillery to provide 100% pure Birch essential oil.
The Pursuit for Pure Birch Oil
dōTERRA’s pursuit of purity is all about sourcing essential oils that are pure and potent. This is done through being directly at the source. dōTERRA's chemists have spent significant time researching and perfecting how to detect the biomarkers and differences between Birch oil, Wintergreen oil, and synthetic methyl salicylate. Over the past several years in testing more than 50 “Birch” oil products from 17 companies, dōTERRA scientists found that not only were these products impure, but not a single bottle contained Birch oil at all. Instead, they all contained Wintergreen oil, synthetic methyl salicylate, or a combination of wintergreen and methyl salicylate.
Given doTERRA’s size and global reach, we realized that the only way to ensure sourcing the quality and purity of Birch oil required to meet our needs was to undertake it ourselves. Sourcing pure Birch oil in large volumes was not an option—until now.
In 2016, Royce Novosel-Johnson of Kane, PA reached out to dōTERRA with the hope that the trees from his family properties could be a good fit for dōTERRA’s future supply of Birch essential oil. Kane is located in the heart of very large forestry operations and these beautiful trees, when combined with a detailed understanding of the meticulous process of birch distillation, were an ideal fit. Understanding birch distillation came with the help of birch oil expert, Skip Cavanaugh from Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Since his great-grandfather, Skip and his family have kept records of their generational experience and knowledge of distilling birch. With Skip’s help, dōTERRA through Woodside Oils are proud to carry on this rich legacy of producing Birch oil for its benefits to people, and to help support this region of Pennsylvania and its initiatives in sustainable forestry.
Ben Platt, dōTERRA Director of Strategic Sourcing Development, said, “One of dōTERRA’s core principles is that we seek to source the best and help the most. We’ve done a lot of due diligence to try and figure out where we should be centered for birch oil production, and Skip not only reassured us that producing Birch oil was possible on a commercial scale, but he also willingly coached us through the process of when to harvest and how to harvest, so that we could produce pure Birch essential oil.”
Building the Right Supply Chain
Even after identifying and confirming the process for birch oil distillation and the work area, there remained the massive challenge of building a distillery with the right equipment that could handle the oil volume needs, understand the right raw materials needs, and then develop that supply chain.
dōTERRA Strategic Sourcing Manager AJ McGarity said, “We started this project almost seven years ago, and we’ve spent the last three years doing many trials and testing to get things right. Over the last eight months, we’ve made leaps and bounds of progress compared to where we first started and we’re very excited about the future. We are proud to work primarily with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified companies for sourcing our birch bark. Our supply chain is very simple. We purchase the birch bark from landowners or companies that previously had no real value, we process the bark a certain way, steam distill it, and then we contribute it right back to the supply chain for mulch or other uses. We work with people who take care of the forest and take care of the forest’s health. We’re proud to make wise use of the forest’s resources, add important value for the forests, and deliver now 100% pure Birch essential oil to the world.”
The Impact of Woodside Oils
The presence of Woodside Oils will bring approximately 400–500 visitors to the local area per year and will utilize the existing local infrastructure and forestry supply chains in the region to increase job availability and offer an alternate revenue stream for landowners and families. Woodside Oils and dōTERRA are committed to ensuring that the entirety of the birch tree is utilized through sustainable sourcing practices like harvesting and collecting waste from local lumber yards, timber companies, and consulting foresters/private landowners.
From left to right: Skip Cavanaugh, Birch oil expert; Royce Novosel-Johnson, Woodside Oils Procurement Specialist; Katie Novosel-Johnson; Sean Poynter, Executive Vice President of Global Operations at dōTERRA; Corey Lindley, Founding Executive and CEO of dōTERRA; AJ McGarity, Woodside Oils General Manager and dōTERRA Strategic Sourcing Manager; Ben Platt, Director of Strategic Sourcing Development at dōTERRA; Tim Valentiner, VP of Global Strategic Sourcing at dōTERRA; Katie Frick, Woodside Oils Operations Specialist
Corey Lindley, Founding Executive and CEO of dōTERRA said, “It really took going to the source and working closely with an artisan distiller to learn how to make this happen. Once we learned the process, we brought our resources from around the world and focused as we do on sourcing the best. And we’re always looking to give back and partner with local communities wherever we go. It’s happening here now in Kane, as it is everywhere in the world through our sourcing efforts. The world comes together in a beautiful way at dōTERRA.”
Mayor of Kane, Brandy Schimp, said at the commemoratory speech at the inauguration event, “Our community thrives on creativity, innovation, resourcefulness, and sustainability. Much like Kane, dōTERRA, through Woodside Oils, has shown their commitment to these principles—by not only utilizing bark from the birch tree and creating a useable product—but helping aid in the overall forest health and sustainability. We pride ourselves on the preservation of our past, while looking forward with a progressive spirit towards our future.”
Corey Lindley, Founding Executive and CEO of dōTERRA, cuts a ribbon, marking the grand opening of Woodside Oils. From left to right: Ben Platt, Director of Strategic Sourcing Development at dōTERRA; Skip Cavanaugh, Birch oil expert; Corey Lindley, Founding Executive and CEO of dōTERRA; Tim Valentiner, VP of Global Strategic Sourcing at dōTERRA; AJ McGarity, Woodside Oils General Manager and dōTERRA Strategic Sourcing Manager; Shannon Bible, Executive Vice President of Customer Experience at dōTERRA.
Birch essential oil will become available for regular purchase in the fall of 2023.