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Robert Seidel talking about essential oils

An Interview with Robert Seidel

Interview with Robert Seidel, Founder of The Essential Oil Company

There are few times in your life that you get to sit down with an Icon. We recently spent time with Robert Seidel, Founder of The Essential Oil Company, and he shared with us what has kept him going in the aromatic industry for over 42 years.

This was such an honor for us! We hope you enjoy this candid interview of Robert telling the story of how he followed his passion for trees, distillation and essential oils.  


Full Transcript

I’m Robert Seidel, founder and president of The Essential Oil Company here in Portland, Oregon and we started our business in 1977.

My education was in forestry. I went to the New York State Ranger School in upstate New York in the Adirondacks, Paul Smith College in forestry, Syracuse University and the New York State College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry at Syracuse. 

It’s kind of unusual for a guy in New York City to go into that trade. But I was a boy scout and I spent a lot of time camping in the woods. I love the outdoors. When I discovered the New York State Ranger School I said “Hey! I could do that. That would be really interesting.” And so there I was. I joined for a one-year program in the Adirondacks.  

What most intrigued me about forestry was plant identification. I found out I had an interest in dendrology, which is the study of trees and shrubs. I spent many long nights studying plants and their origins. The issue I had with school of forestry was that we learned trees were only for making either lumber or paper. There was a tree that interested me.  It was called Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea). On the stem of the tree there are blisters or nodules. When you pop one of those nodules a gorgeous resin comes pouring out that is absolutely beautiful. Throughout my years in school, I would ask my professors and teachers “Is there anyway I can extract this material?” But we were in the wood industry. It was wood or paper. For forestry school in those days, there were no non-timber forest products. You either make paper or you make wood. So when I asked my question they said there was no way to extract the material. But I said “there has to be a way.” That’s where I started my studying in extracting aromatics from plants. 

Being that I've been in the essential oil business for over 40 years doing distillation and putting oils into small bottles, that’s what I know and that’s what I can use to help people who are already working in that direction.  I can contribute some of the knowledge that I’ve garnered over the years with other people to help benefit them in the long run. Hopefully at the end of the day they can share that knowledge with somebody else. 

I’ve been in the essential oil business since 1977 and I’ve been studying them since 1974. I’ve got a long history of studying and production. I’ve been distilling since the late 70s and at this point in my life, I know what a quality essential oil is. 

Take rose oil for example. You’re never going to be able to distill your own rose oil. It’s just not conceivable that you'll ever have enough roses to make much rose oil. Fortunately for you and us we know the distillers who do the proper distillation. I have visited the distillery.

I visit most of the distilleries that I buy our essential oils from so that i can see how the plants are grown. I meet with the growers, farmers, and the distillers and I watch their methods of extraction. Through years of experience and knowledge of essential oils I can tell you that the quality we supply, is the best that you can find.

Thank you for listening to the story of The Essential Oil Company and how I got started and progressed in essential oils, distillation, and putting them into small bottles. I offer you my appreciation for being our customers and for knowing that we are providing the best possible essential oils available on the market for you. My hope is that The Essential Oil Company continues to grow and prosper. It will with your help. Thank you for joining us.

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