Creosote Oil

Creosote oil is a common name for a group of oil-like products that are obtained from tar. One of them is coal tar creosote, and the other is wood tar creosote. However, a plant smells much like creosote, and it is the creosote bush, better known as Chaparral ( Larrea tridentata ). These three oil products can interchangeably be referred to as creosote oil. They are used for a number of medicinal purposes, as they have been used in the past. Creosote oils also have significant usage in industrial and home applications.


Creosote oil is obtained by distillation of tar. This can be coal tar or wood tar. Creosote bush oil, however, is a herb-infused oil that can be easily made at home. These products have been used in North American for numerous purposes. Coal tar is an excellent wood finish oil. However, it is not used for medicinal uses because it is toxic. Wood tar oil has medicinal properties, and it was used as an expectorant, strongly astringent, and laxative. The chaparral herb is recognized as one of the most prominent herbs used by Native Americans and is used even today. Its oil has similar properties as the herb itself.


Each of the three oils has slight differences in properties.

Coal tar creosote oil is a wood preservative. This is the primary usage of coal tar creosote oil. It is also used as fuel. Wood tar creosote oil has the following properties.

  • Antiseptic – prevent infections in wounds.
  • Laxative – promotes emptying of the bowels.
  • Expectorant – aids in the release of phlegm.
  • Anaesthetic – causes loss of sensation.

Creosote oil from the creosote bush possesses a whole range of therapeutic properties [1]. These are not verified but assumed based on verified uses of the chaparral herb.

  • Anti-acne – the oil may be applied to acne to subside them. [2]
  • Anti-inflammatory – the herb lowers inflammation.
  • Antiseptic – This oil prevents infections in bleeding wounds. [3]
  • Cicatrizant – It heals wounds, especially burns and sunburns.
  • Sun protection – The herb grows in the desert. It offers good sun protection, and its oil can be used in sunscreen formulations.
  • Analgesic – relieves pain when applied topically.
  • Expectorant – promotes expulsion of phlegm.
  • Anti-neuritic – provides relief from the pain and stinging sensation in neuritis.
  • Antihelmintic – kills parasites in the intestines.
  • Diuretic – promotes the release of urine.


Creosote bush oil has the characteristic aroma of tar oil. That is the reason it got named creosote bush in the first place.

How to make Creosote Oil?

The oil from creosote bush can be made in two ways, organically.

  • Creosote essential oil – This is obtained through steam distillation of the leaves of chaparral.
  • Herbal Infused Creosote oil – Take an excellent base oil, like grapeseed oil. Put the oil in a glass jar. Add creosote bush leaves and cover it up. Please place it in sunlight for 24 hours and then drain it. This is a simple homemade creosote bush oil.

Health Benefits

Creosote oil can be used for a variety of purposes based on its healing properties.

Creosote Oil for Acne

Creosote oil from the creosote bush can be used on acne. It is anti-inflammatory and aids the skin in subsiding the pimples. One can use the infused oil directly on the skin. Instead, if you have the essential oil of creosote, add 4 – 5 drops to about two tablespoons of jojoba oil for skin massage. Apply it all over the place where there is acne.

Relieve Muscular Cramps

Directly massage creosote oil from the creosote bush right into the skin. It provides relief from sore muscles.


Creosote oil makes an excellent home remedy for haemorrhoids. It is anti-inflammatory and astringent. It can be applied directly to the haemorrhoid using a cotton ball. It starts to reduce the swelling and irritation.

Heal bruises and wounds.

Creosote oil and the herbal tea of creosote bush are good at healing wounds. One can use the oil for disinfecting the wound. Take a pan of water and boil it. Then cool it and add 8 – 10 drops of creosote oil. Use this oil to wash the wound. It exerts a disinfecting effect. It is also an antihemorrhagic, so it stops bleeding from the wound.

Relieve a Headache

Inhalation of the essential oil of creosote bush helps to alleviate a headache. One can also perform a temple massage with the herbal infused oil.

Sun protection

This oil can be used in skincare formulations to protect from UV radiation. Apply chaparral infused in olive oil on the skin.

For Eczema and Psoriasis

The creosote essential oil is used in aromatherapy to heal eczema and psoriasis lesions.


Creosote oils from the tars are used for commercial purposes.

  • Coal tar creosote is used to treat and preserve the wood. The wood tar creosote oil can also be used for this purpose, but it is not as effective as coal tar creosote.
  • Creosote oil is used to extract chemicals that have expectorant capabilities, like guaifenesin commercially.
  • Wood tar creosote from select wood is used to make medication for diarrhoea.
  • Creosote oil is also used as a fuel and for lighting in lamps.

Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity

Chaparral herb is used for many medicinal purposes. However, it has been found in some cases to lead to hepatic and renal toxicity. It may be difficult for the body to get it out of the system. Coal tar creosote and even wood tar creosote oil may be toxic if not used correctly.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Each of the three different types of creosote oils has an additional nutritional value. Coal tar creosote oil is not a substance of nutritional value because it is not used for personal application. Coal tar creosote has compounds that are carcinogenic and toxic. Wood tar creosote contains a variety of nutrients that lend it beneficial properties.

These are the compounds found in wood tar creosote oil.

  • Guaiacol – used to make expectorant and other medicinal compounds.
  • Creosol – It is a disinfectant.
  • Cresol – Not dangerous in small amounts, but large amounts can lead to irritation, kidney damage and even affect other organs like the liver and brain.
  • Xylenol – It is used to produce antioxidants.

The rest of the wood tar creosote oil is composed of phenols.

Creosote oil derived from Creosote Bush: Nutrition Facts

Chaparral oil obtains its nutrition from the herb as well as the base oil. Creosote bush contains a variety of nutrients and compounds which have medicinal value. The bush contains a small fraction of its weight as volatile oils, which are tapped using steam distillation. The most prominent nutrient is NDGA ( nordihydroguaiaretic acid ) which is a powerful antioxidant. However, it can be toxic in large amounts.

Buying and Storage

One can easily obtain coal tar creosote oil and wood tar creosote oil. As for the creosote bush oil, one can either buy its essential oil or prepare a herbal infused oil if you have the bush nearby. This oil is susceptible to rancidity, notwithstanding the base oil. So, it should be kept in a cool environment and covered with a dark cloth to prevent oxidation by light.


1. Larrea tridentata (Creosote bush), an abundant plant of Mexican and US-American deserts and its metabolite nordihydroguaiaretic acid. Silvia Arteaga, Adolfo Andrade-Cetto, René Cárdenas. Journal of Ethnopharmacology

2. R.L. Estudillo, A.L. Hinojosa Catalog of Sonoran Medicinal Plants University of Sonora, Hermosillo (1988) 131 pp. (in Spanish)

3. B. Timmermann Practical uses of Larrea

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