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] A dark, viscous, tar-like liquid with an unpleasant smell, it is named after its inventor, Johann Conrad Dippel. The oil consists mostly of aliphatic chains, with nitrogen functionalities and includes species such as pyrroles, pyridines and nitriles, as well as other nitrogenous compounds.[1]

Dippel's oil had a number of uses which are now mostly obsolete. Its primary use was as an animal and insect repellent. It saw limited use as a chemical warfare harassing agent during the desert campaign of World War II. The oil was used to render wells undrinkable and thus deny their use to the enemy.[2][3] By not being lethal, the oil was claimed to not be in breach of the Geneva Protocol.

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  1. ^ a b Purevsuren, B; Avid, B; Gerelmaa, T; Davaajav, Ya; Morgan, T.J; Herod, A.A; Kandiyoti, R (May 2004). "The characterisation of tar from the pyrolysis of animal bones". Fuel. 83 (7-8): 799–805. doi:10.1016/j.fuel.2003.10.011. 
  2. ^ UK War Cabinet (22 August 1940). "Note on Method of Dealing with Drinking Water" (PDF). THE MIDDLE EAST : DIRECTIVE TO THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF. Annex 1. 
  3. ^ "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.