Creosote: Coal Tar & other Wood Preservatives
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Creosote .net

Creosote is the name used for a variety of products: wood creosote, coal tar creosote, coal tar, coal tar pitch, and coal tar pitch volatiles. These products are mixtures of many chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (known as PAHs), phenol, and cresols created by burning of beech and other woods, coal, or from the resin of the creosote bush.

Wood creosote is a colorless to yellowish greasy liquid with a smoky odor and burned taste. Coal tar creosote is a thick, oily liquid typically amber to black in color. Coal tar and coal tar pitch are usually thick, black, or dark-brown liquids or semi-solids, with a smoky odor.

Wood creosote has been used as a disinfectant, a laxative, and a cough treatment, but has since been replaced by better medicines. Coal tar products are used in medicines to treat skin diseases such as psoriasis, and also as animal and bird repellents, insecticides, animal dips, and fungicides. Coal tar creosote is the most widely used wood preservative in the United States. Coal tar, coal tar pitch, and coal tar pitch volatiles are used for roofing, aluminum smelting, and coking.


News & Notes has compiled data from the U.S. Department of the Environment for the convenience of our readers. For additional information visit