Creosote oil is a common name for a group of oil like products that are obtained from tar. One of them is coal tar creosote and the other is wood tar creosote. However, there is a plant which smells much like creosote and it is the creosote bush, better known as Chaparral ( Larrea tridentata ). These three oil products can interchangeably be referred to as creosote oil. They are used for a number of medicinal purposes, as they have been used in the past. Creosote oils also have significant usage in industrial and home applications.
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Creosote oil is actually obtained by distillation of tar. This can be coal tar, or wood tar. Creosote bush oil however is a herb infused oil which can be easily made at home. These products have been used in North American for numerous purposes. Coal tar is an excellent wood finish oil. However, it is not used for medicinal uses because it is toxic. Wood tar oil has medicinal properties and it was used as an expectorant, strong astringent and as a laxative. The chaparral herb is recognized as one of the most prominent herbs used by Native Americans, and is used even today. Its oil has similar properties as the herb itself.
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Each of the three oils has slight differences in properties.
Coal tar creosote oil is a wood preservative. This is the major usage of coal tar creosote oil. It is also used as a fuel. Wood tar creosote oil has the following properties.
- Antiseptic – prevents infections in wounds.
- Laxative – promotes emptying of the bowels.
- Expectorant – aids in release of phlegm.
- Anaesthetic – causes loss of sensation.
Creosote oil from the creosote bush possesses a whole range of therapeutic properties . These are not verified, but assumed based on verified uses of the chaparral herb.
- Anti-acne – the oil may be applied on acne to subside them. 
- Anti-inflammatory – the herb lowers inflammation.
- Antiseptic – This oil prevents infections in bleeding wounds. 
- Cicatrizant – It heals wounds, specially burns and sunburns.
- Sun protection – The herb grows in the desert. It offers a good sun protection and its oil can be used in sunscreen formulations.
- Analgesic – relieves pain when applied topically.
- Expectorant – promotes expulsion of phlegm.
- Anti-neuritic – provides relief from the pain and stinging sensation in neuritis.
- Antihelmintic – kills parasites in the intestines.
- Diuretic – promotes the release of urine.
Creosote bush oil has the characteristic aroma of tar oil. That is the reason it got named creosote bush in the first place.
How to make Creosote Oil ?
The oil from creosote bush can be made in two ways, organically.
- Creosote essential oil – This is obtained through steam distillation of the leaves of chaparral.
- Herbal Infused Creosote oil – Take a nice base oil, like grapeseed oil. Put the oil in a glass jar. Add creosote bush leaves and cover it up. Place it in sunlight for 24 hours and then drain it. This is a simple home made creosote bush oil.
Creosote oil from the can be used for a variety of purposes based on its healing properties.
1. Creosote Oil for Acne
Creosote oil from the creosote bush can be used on acne. It is anti-inflammatory and aids the skin in subsiding the pimples. One can use the infused oil directly on the skin. If you have the essential oil of creosote instead, add 4 – 5 drops to about 2 tablespoon of jojoba oil for skin massage. Apply it all over the place where there is acne.
2. Relieve Muscular Cramps
Directly massage cresote oil from creosote bush right into the skin. It provides relief from sore muscles.
Creosote oil makes a nice home remedy for hemorrhoids. It is anti-inflammatory and astringent. It can be applied directly the hemorrhoid using a cotton ball. It starts to reduce the swelling and irritation.
4. Heal bruises and wounds
Creosote oil, and the herbal tea of creosote bush are good at healing wounds. One can use the oil for disinfecting the wound. Take a pan of water and boil it. Then cool it and add 8 – 10 drops of creosote oil. Use this oil to wash the wound. It exerts a disinfecting effect. It is also an antihemorrhagic, so it stops bleeding from the wound.
5. Relieve a Headache
Inhalation of the essential oil of creosote bush helps to alleviate a headache. One can also perform a temple massage with the herbal infused oil.
6. Sun protection
This oil can be used in skin care formulations to protect from UV radiation. Apply chaparral infused in olive oil on the skin.
7. For Eczema and Psoriasis
The creosote essential oil is used in aromatherapy to heal eczema and psoriasis lesions.
Creosote oils from the tars are used for many commercial purposes.
- Coal tar creosote is used to treat and preserve wood. The wood tar creosote oil can also be used for this purpose, but it is not as effective as coal tar creosote.
- Creosote oil is used to commercially extract chemicals that have expectorant capabilities, like guaifenesin.
- Wood tar creosote from select wood is used to make medication for diarrhea.
- Creosote oil is also used as a fuel and for lighting in lamps.
Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity
Chaparral herb is used for many medicinal purposes. However, it has been found in some cases to lead to hepatic and renal toxicity. It may be difficult for the body to get it out of the system. Coal tar creosote and even wood tar creosote oil may be toxic if not used correctly.
Nutritional and Medicinal Information
Each of the three different types of creosote oils has different nutritional value. Coal tar creosote oil is not a substance of nutritional value because it is not used for personal application. Coal tar creosote has compounds that are carcinogenic and toxic. Wood tar creosote contains a variety of nutrients which lend it the beneficial properties.
These are the compounds found in wood tar creosote oil.
- Guaiacol – used to make expectorant and other medicinal compounds.
- Creosol – It is a disinfectant.
- Cresol – Not dangerous in small amounts but large amounts can lead to irritation, kidney damage and even affect other organs like liver and brain.
- Xylenol – It is used to produce antioxidants.
Rest of the wood tar creosote oil is composed of phenols.
Creosote oil derived from Creosote Bush : Nutrition Facts
Chaparral oil obtains its nutrition from the herb as well as the base oil. Creosote bush contains a variety of nutrients and compounds which have medicinal value. The bush contains a small fraction of its weight as volatile oils, which are tapped using steam distillation. The most prominent nutrient is NDGA ( nordihydroguaiaretic acid ) which is a powerful antioxidant. However, it can be toxic in large amounts.
Buying and Storage
One can easily obtain coal tar creosote oil and wood tar creosote oil. As for the creosote bush oil, one can either buy its essential oil, or prepare a herbal infused oil if you have the bush nearby. This oil is susceptible to rancidity notwithstanding the base oil. So, it should kept in a cool environment and covered with a dark cloth to prevent oxidation by light.
1. Larrea tridentata (Creosote bush), an abundant plant of Mexican and US-American deserts and its metabolite nordihydroguaiaretic acid. Silvia Arteaga, Adolfo Andrade-Cetto, René Cárdenas. Journal of Ethnopharmacology
2. R.L. Estudillo, A.L. Hinojosa Catalog of Sonoran Medicinal Plants University of Sonora, Hermosillo (1988) 131 pp. (in Spanish)
3. B. Timmermann Practical uses of Larrea