Birch tar was used widely as an adhesive as early as the Middle Paleolithic to early Mesolithic era. Neanderthals produced tar through the dry distillation of birch bark as early as 200,000 years ago. A study from 2019 showed that birch tar production can be a very simple process - merely involving the burning of birch bark near smooth vertical surfaces in open air conditions .
Russia leather is a water-resistant leather, oiled with birch oil after tanning. This leather was a major export good from 17th and 18th century Russia, as the availability of birch oil limited its geographical production. The oil impregnation also deterred insect attack and gave a distinctive and pleasant aroma that was seen as a mark of quality in leather.
Birch tar oil is an effective repellent of gastropods. The repellent effect lasts about two weeks. The repellent effect of birch tar oil mixed with petroleum jelly applied to a fence lasts up to several months.
- Kozowyk, P. R. B.; Soressi, M.; Pomstra, D.; Langejans, G. H. J. (2017-08-31). "Experimental methods for the Palaeolithic dry distillation of birch bark: implications for the origin and development of Neandertal adhesive technology". Scientific Reports. 7 (1): 8033. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-08106-7. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 5579016. PMID 28860591.
- Schmidt, P., Blessing, M., Rageot, M., Iovita, R., Pfleging, J., Nickel, K. G.; Righetti, L. & Tennie, C. "Birch tar extraction does not prove Neanderthal behavioral complexity". PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1911137116.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- "Student dig unearths ancient gum, 2007".
- "Production of Russia Leather" (PDF). The Honourable Cordwainers' Company. 1807. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Charman, C. (12 June 1999). "Vishnevsky liniment and ichthammol: on the perspectives of application in military medicine and other fields". The BMJ. 318 (7198): 1600–1604. doi:10.1136/bmj.318.7198.1600. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
- Lindqvist I., Lindqvist B., Tiilikkala K., Hagner M., Penttinen O.-P., Pasanen T. & Setälä H. (2010). "Birch tar oil is an effective mollusc repellent: field and laboratory experiments using Arianta arbustorum (Gastropoda: Helicidae) and Arion lusitanicus (Gastropoda: Arionidae)". Agricultural and Food Science 19(1): 1-12. doi:10.2137/145960610791015050.
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