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The reference in the main article about creosote causing cancer of the scrotum is rather incomplete. The British chimney sweeps developed cancer of the scrotum, but German chimney sweeps did not because the Germans' personal hygeine was better. This has been long known publically (at least 20 years). The development of scrotal cancer in British chimney sweeps was a combination of long term exposure to creosote AND AND AND AND AND not bathing for weeks at a time.

Wooden Telephone Poles[edit]

The article mentions that wooden railroad ties are generally treated with creosote. Aren't wooden telephone poles also normally treated with creosote?--McDogm 21:45, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

Molecular Structure and Chemical Nature[edit]

Don't most Wikipedia articles about substances such as creosote; ie ammonia, saltpeter, lye, etc, normally include something written from an expert chemical science point of view?, including material relating to why creosote is what it is and does what it does?--McDogm 21:49, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

Creosote is blend of varying heavy polyaromatic compounds. It's chemical composition is undefined. Usually it's made from the residue from napthalene distillation mixed together with lighter coal tar pitches and smaller amounts of light oil. Mohammed al-Khawal 04:46, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

The article keeps restating that creosote is a compound. It is not, it is a mixture of many compounds the composition of which is source and strength dependent. Charlie Pierce 20 August 20124. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:48, 20 August 2014 (UTC)



THANKS JJ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:28, 21 July 2009 (UTC)


I overhauled the article, adding a lot more pertinent information about the chemical structure, history, uses, and commonality between different types of creosote compounds. I'm working on making a longer article on its medical use, and later when thats done, separating the two subjects, bear with me until then. Brianshapiro (talk) 04:51, 25 July 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the notice. Some initial questions and comments.
  • First, why are the references arranged as they are vs just ordinary in-line references. For me at least, it is unhelpful not to get the ref by clicking the citation number. That format is most widely used in Wikipedia.
  • Second, the references are ancient and the article emphasizes history. Here I am being critical (hopefully constructively) of the current draft. The lead paragraph opens with a statements supported by very old references. In this era of modern analytical chemistry, readers would benefit from more modern references that support the claims.
  • Third, the article also seems to over-emphasize the role of creosote in food and folk-medicine, whereas my sources suggest that wood preservation completely dominates the use of creosote. Stating the case otherwise verges on undue emphasis (WP:undue).
  • Other comments - the article in places seems to include informal personal views, example: "There are several other names for such fluids, but most aren't trustworthy, being regional,..."
  • About your plans to expand the medical parts, be cautious and consultative. Articles can get very controversial with the inclusion of medical advice and anecdotes. The standards for referencing are thus more stringent as discussed in WP:MEDRS: "Ideal sources for such content includes general or systematic reviews published in reputable medical journals, academic and professional books written by experts in a field and from a respected publisher, and medical guidelines or position statements from nationally or internationally recognised expert bodies." So primary sources are not good enough, the sources need to be secondary. Good luck and thanks for listening, --Smokefoot (talk) 17:41, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Sorry about not responding right away, if you were hoping for a response. I took a break from this article for a while, so wasn't checking the discussion page.
I arranged the references that way because in some instances I needed to cite more than one page in the same source... looking at other Wikipedia articles, that seemed to be a common way of doing that (referred to as Harvard notation). If you click the citation number and go down to the notes, clicking on the link again should bring you to the source that has that page in it. I just checked, and it looks like one or two of those links seem to be broken, some sort of author name mismatch, and would need fixing.
I cited a lot of old sources, because they just happened to be the most complete and clear I've been able to find, and comparing them with new sources, none of the information in them appear to be obsolete. The science about creosote simply hasn't changed much. Old sources used, in particular, in the chemical description of wood-tar creosote, refer to classic studies that I've found continue to be cited even today, because their usefulness hasn't been superseded. The old sources simply discuss those studies in more detail, so I was able to cite more facts from them. I've seen modern studies that have produced a more detailed, precise breakdown of the chemical compounds, but it isn't very readable by laypersons.
The most widely known use of creosote today is wood preservation, because that's when you'll find it specifically sold under the name "creosote", but its history in other areas is long and very significant -- it was once just as much used in food and medicine as with wood -- and it continues to be used in those areas very broadly, but not as much as in the past. Its medicinal use isn't ancient; it was still common on drug store shelves as late as the 1950s -- I've been getting ready photos of creosote medicines from the 1800s to the 1950s to use on an article about its medicinal use. Many of the over-the-counter products of the 50s are still available today; and derivatives of it (guaiacol) are common in widely used medicines. If you get liquid smoke in any supermarket, it mainly has creosote in it (anyone that preserves food by smoking is relying on the creosote). It was also widely used as a food preservative earlier in the century. Wines are often flavored with creosote to give them a smoky taste, though I didn't get to add that in. Wood-tar creosote, itself, isn't very widely used in wood-preservation today either, simply because oil-tar creosote is much more effective. Its hard to find wood-tar creosote in a pure form today, because it isn't produced as much ; instead, particularly with wood preservation, you'll find mixes of wood-tar and coal-tar. Its a way of diluting coal-tar creosote to make it less expensive and less toxic.
All of this seems very relevant to the subject, and the only proper way to de-emphasize the historical uses, in my view, would be to split the article apart; so you have separate articles on the history that you move all of that excess material into.
I'll be able to move the medical history into a separate article, like I was planning, and after that I'll move some of the history on wood preservation into an article on wood treatments and processing. That should excise a lot of the historical information (and cites of older sources) out of the article, and have it more focused on current use. It'll at least shrink those sections.
As for how its written now, I was planning on putting all of the historical information that's currently there into a separate section at the end of everything else, titled "History" and that would have de-emphasized the history, but it felt like it would make the article structure too complex. The problem was that the article has to cover separate substances; wood-tar creosote and coal-tar creosote are different, but need to be talked about together ; and the only way to include the history of both would be to put them in the sections on those creosote types, or to make the history section redundantly list them both.
Anyway, once I get done with the other articles and move the information out, I think the article will be easier to reorganize, if it needs to be.
Brianshapiro (talk) 02:29, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Article needs a photograph[edit]

I never thought properly about creosote and imagined it to be a black tar, but now I realize I was thinking of bitumen. Could we have a picture of creosote so we can see what it looks like? Pictures on the internet show the grey, ashy interior of a chimney. What does creosote look like when it is collected in a bucket? — O'Dea (talk) 18:33, 26 December 2011 (UTC)


I have never seen the word "anti-septic" before. Is that a regional usage?

Of course, "septic" does not mean "microorganism" - it means several other things, but not that.

I believe "antiseptic" would be a more suitable word for use in this article. Thoughts? Dratman (talk) 06:14, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Creosote in meats?[edit]

As a person that smokes meat as a hobby, and used to follow the methods, I'd like to point out that creosote is not a principal "ingredient" in smoking. It's to be patently avoided. It leaves a nasty metallic taste in your mouth, and numbs your lips and tongue. So, Whomever wrote this on the wiki is a moron. [1] -Isakill-

Color photograph from 1943?[edit]

The caption states: "... in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in March 1943. This U.S. wartime governmental photo ..." -- I don't think so. Color photography was pretty crude back then, and this is not. Somebody is scamming or scammed -- or just confused. Grammar'sLittleHelper (talk) 02:42, 24 March 2016 (UTC)

Look at the information for this on Commons, and especially look at the uncropped version with all the detail of the edges. It certainly looks authentic to me. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:20, 16 July 2016 (UTC)

Creosote Bush is not Creosote[edit]

Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) is a desert shrub that is said to superficially smell like creosote. Without presenting evidence that creosote bush actually contains creosote, it should not be even mentioned in this article, except perhaps to note that it got its name because it smells like creosote. Including a whole paragraph on the medicinal uses of creosote bush here is seriously wrong. After all, we don't discuss the physical properties of ironwood at Iron, nor tarweed at Tar, etc. Chuck Entz (talk) 23:33, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

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