Dippel's oil

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Dippel's Oil (sometimes known as Bone Oil) is a nitrogenous by-product of the destructive distillation of bones.[1] This liquid is dark colored and highly viscous with an unpleasant smell. The oil contains the organic compound pyrrole, aniline, stearonitrile, pyridine, methylamine and other nitrogenous compounds. It is named after its inventor, Johann Conrad Dippel.

Dippel's oil had a number of uses which are now mostly obsolete. It could be used as an alcohol denaturant, an ingredient in sheep dips, an animal repellent (tradenamed as "Renardine"), an insecticide, in a soap industry, ideal starting material for various lubricants, a chemical warfare harassing agent, and also had medicinal uses.[2] By not being lethal, the oil was claimed to not be in breach of the Geneva Protocol. During the desert campaign of World War II, the oil was used to render wells undrinkable and thus deny their use to the enemy.[3][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sadtler, S. P. 1883. Recent studies on the constitution of the alkaloids. Scientific American Supplement, No. 415, December 15, 1883. [1]
  2. ^ Hartshorne, H. 1881. Distillation in The Household Cyclopedia. Thomas Kelly, New York [2]
  3. ^ UK War Cabinet (22 August 1940). Annex 1. "Note on Method of Dealing with Drinking Water". THE MIDDLE EAST : DIRECTIVE TO THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF. p. 7. 
  4. ^ "War diary of New Zealand Engineers, Western Desert Railway". 26 May 1942. "Drew sterilising powder and other assorted poisons to adulterate our drinking water and took some to wells."