How to Make Creosote

How to Make Creosote
Gracie Owens
Gracie Owens she/her - Author at YardPrep October 01, 2023

Creosote is a dark, oily substance that is derived from various organic materials such as coal tar and wood. It is commonly used for its preservative properties and has a wide range of industrial applications. In this article, we will explore what creosote is, its different types, its uses, and most importantly, how to make creosote.

How to Make Creosote

To make creosote, you can start by burning wood or coal in a low-oxygen environment, such as a wood-burning stove or a coal-burning furnace. This process will produce a thick, oily substance that can be collected and used as creosote. However, it is important to note that creosote is toxic and highly flammable, so proper safety precautions should be taken when handling and using it.

What is Creosote?

Creosote is a highly viscous liquid that is produced through the distillation of organic materials such as coal tar or wood. It is composed of a complex mixture of chemicals, including phenols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and other organic compounds. Creosote is known for its strong, distinct odor and dark brown to black color.

Types of Creosote

1. Primary Creosote

Primary creosote is obtained directly from the distillation of coal tar. It is the most potent form of creosote and contains high levels of toxic compounds. Primary creosote is primarily used for industrial purposes, such as wood preservation and as a fuel source.

2. Secondary Creosote

Secondary creosote is produced by the re-distillation of primary creosote. It is a less potent form of creosote and is often used in the manufacturing of certain chemicals and pharmaceutical products.

3. Tertiary Creosote

Tertiary creosote is obtained by further refining secondary creosote. It is the least toxic form of creosote and is commonly used in the production of consumer goods, such as paints, varnishes, and cosmetics.

Uses of Creosote

1. Wood Preservation

Creosote is widely used as a wood preservative due to its ability to protect against rot, decay, and insect infestation. It is commonly applied to railroad ties, utility poles, and outdoor wooden structures to extend their lifespan.

2. Medical Applications

Creosote has been used in traditional medicine for its antiseptic and analgesic properties. It has been used topically to treat skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, and as an ingredient in cough syrups and throat lozenges.

3. Other Industrial Uses

Creosote is also utilized in various other industries. It is used in the production of carbon black, a key ingredient in rubber manufacturing. It is also used as a binder in the production of asphalt and as a fuel source in certain power plants.

How to Make Creosote

1. Source Materials

To make creosote, you will need a source material such as coal tar or wood. Coal tar can be obtained from the distillation of coal, while wood creosote can be derived from the pyrolysis of wood.

2. Extraction Process

The extraction process involves heating the source material in a closed container to release the creosote vapors. These vapors are then condensed and collected in a separate container.

3. Purification Process

Once the creosote has been extracted, it needs to undergo a purification process to remove impurities and obtain a high-quality product. This can be achieved through filtration, distillation, and chemical treatments.

4. Safety Precautions

It is important to follow safety precautions when making creosote, as it can be hazardous to health. Ensure proper ventilation, wear protective clothing and gloves, and handle the materials with care to minimize the risk of exposure.


In conclusion, creosote is a versatile substance that has various industrial applications. It is commonly used for wood preservation, medical purposes, and in other industries. While the process of making creosote involves extracting and purifying the substance from source materials, it is important to take necessary safety precautions. Understanding the different types of creosote and its uses can help in utilizing this substance effectively and responsibly.