Creosote Ties

I am looking for some old railroad ties. They have creosote treating on them, but it is weak due to the age of the ties. Is this a problem when using them to form raised beds?
Steve
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"SteveB" wrote:

Seems you're looking for something you already have?!?!?
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Creosote occurs naturally every time wood burns; forest fires have occured since well before there's been animal life on this planet and still. Creosoted RR ties are essentially inert, that's how it preserves wood... used for ground contact lumber to contain a vegetable garden they are far safer to humans than living with the creosote emited from a wood burning stove. Plants are very discriminating, they don't absorb everything just because it's there.
If the RR ties are reasonably sound I'd use them, if they are rotten it really doesn't pay to use them to construct anything that one would want to look decent and last a while. Real RR ties are very difficult to work with even when new, they are typically not very consistantly sized, and not very straight, but mostly they are darn heavy, a ten footer can easily weigh 300 pounds... they were never meant to be used as construction lumber... I'd not waste my time and energy constructing a raised bed garden of any kind of rotten lumber.
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I am afraid there a few incorrect things here.
First, while "creosote" does appear when burning some types of wood, it's not the same creosote as those used to preserve RR ties. Wood creosote was used until recently for medicinal purposes, and has never been classed a carcinogen. The RR tie creosote is coal tar creosote, and comes entirely from coal. It has some nasty stuff in it. When I was a summer employee working for the US Forest Service, we used to soak pilings in creosote- you know those logs buried in the campgrounds to keep you from driving all over the place? We were done up in rubber suits with welder's masks and thick rubber gloves when we worked around the creosote drum. Maybe RR ties that have sat in the sun and elements for 20 years or more are safe, but why take the risk?
Second, plants are really not all that discriminating. They really do absorb almost anything that comes their way. That's why you see lush greenery around gold and copper and lead mines- they've been planted to absorb the highly toxic mine tailings. It's also why wetlands are so important as water filtration sites: those plants absorb darn near anything that gets dumped in the water. The plants in the Everglades are toxic as hell after years of absorbing all the garbage Miami and the sugar plantations in South Florida have dumped into the water.
Chris
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wrote:

Creosote occurs naturally every time wood burns; forest fires have occured since well before there's been animal life on this planet and still. Creosoted RR ties are essentially inert, that's how it preserves wood... used for ground contact lumber to contain a vegetable garden they are far safer to humans than living with the creosote emited from a wood burning stove. Plants are very discriminating, they don't absorb everything just because it's there.
If the RR ties are reasonably sound I'd use them, if they are rotten it really doesn't pay to use them to construct anything that one would want to look decent and last a while. Real RR ties are very difficult to work with even when new, they are typically not very consistantly sized, and not very straight,
but mostly they are darn heavy, a ten footer can easily weigh 300 pounds...
Where the Fuck do you come up with all this information Sheldon? Oh wait your talking about 10 footers. thats about 230 pounds more than a 8 footer. Never mind
they were never meant to be used as construction lumber... I'd not waste my time and energy constructing a raised bed garden of any kind of rotten lumber.
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Oh, hell, I gotta couple of minutes to burn, so's here goes. Creosote: a dark brown oil distilled from coal tar and used as a wood preservative. It contains a number of phenols, cresols, and other organic compounds. a colorless, pungent, oily liquid, containing creosol and other compounds, distilled from wood tar and used as an antiseptic.
Basically it is a family of phenols and polyphenols. The phenols attack the amine portion in an amino-acid and that is important because amino-acids are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins are found in cell walls, enzymes, and muscles. Animal skins are preserved with a form of polyphenol called tannin which renders the hide toxic to micro-organisms that would like to degrade it.
Unlike tannin, which comes from the bark of oak trees, there is no fixed provenance for creosote. It was never meant for ingestion, so it isn't checked for contaminants. One thing is certain though, it is used to kill micro-flora and fauna, such as one would find in an organic garden.
So, if you are already growing your garden with Miracle Grow or some other chemfert, then there is little to lose (plant wise) using creosote. Human health wise, it is Russian roulette (but hey, there's only one bullet).
No one says you had to be organic.

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In article

My dad painted the entire house sill with creosote 50 years ago. This to fend of ants and termites. He also gave me mercury to clean up coins with. We had so much asbestos about that my brother who lives there had to get professional help and clearance. Same guy was reading Sir Albert and Rodale at this time.
Go Figure.
<http://chemicalland21.com/industrialchem/organic/ortho-CRESOL.htm
<http://msds.chem.ox.ac.uk/CR/o-cresol.html
Bill
Ps he has a few pounds of Cyanide in plastic bags in his basement.
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wrote:
[...]

[...]
I remember as a child PLAYING with those "cute" mercury balls when a thermometer accidentally broke !!! Who knew, back then.
Persephone
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The problem is that metallic mercury is somewhat volatile. As mercury vaporizes, it forms salts, which are quite hazardous.

Not really, given they're the ones who know what to do with the stuff. Dumping it down the drain is a nonstarter.
Chris

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Oh, Bill, please stop. ROFLOL ;o) You crack me up;-)
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Billy
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http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/factsheets/chemicals/creosote_prelim_risk_ass ess.htm
2. What is creosote and how is it used? Creosote is a wood preservative used for commercial purposes only; it has no registered residential uses. Creosote is obtained from high temperature distillation of coal tar (itself a mixture of hundreds of organic substances). Over 100 components in creosote have been identified. It is used as a fungicide, insecticide, miticide, and sporicide to protect wood and is applied by pressure methods to wood products, primarily utility poles and railroad ties. This treated wood is intended for exterior/outdoor uses only. Its commercial uses include railroad ties (70%), utility poles (15-20%), and other miscellaneous commercial uses (10-15%).
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3. Are there any health risks associated with exposure to creosote-treated wood? The risk estimates provided in this risk assessment are of a preliminary nature and subject to refinement. The process that EPA uses to review chemicals through reregistration is intended to gather additional information and input from the public and stakeholders about exposure and risk that will be used to revise the risk estimates. Based on such input through this public comment period, EPA will develop a revised risk assessment and will be able to determine whether or not risk mitigation measures are needed.
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4. What safety precautions should one take when handling or coming into contact with creosote? Creosote penetrates deeply into and remains in the pressure-treated wood for a long time. Exposure to creosote may present certain hazards. Therefore, the following precautions should be taken both when handling the treated wood and in determining where to use the treated wood. It should be noted that such exposure usually only occurs when one comes into contact with railroad ties and/or utility poles.
USE SITE PRECAUTIONS
Do not use where frequent or prolonged contact with bare skin can occur. Do not use in residential settings. In interiors of industrial buildings, it should be used only for industrial building components which are in ground contact and subject to decay or insect infestation and for wood block flooring in industrial settings. Do not use in the interiors of farm buildings where there may be direct contact with domestic animals or livestock which may bite or lick the wood. Do not use treated wood for cutting-boards or counter tops. Do not use where it may come into direct or indirect contact with public drinking water.
HANDLING PRECAUTIONS
Dispose of treated wood by ordinary trash collection or burial. Do not burn wood in open fires or in stoves, fireplaces, or residential boilers because toxic chemicals may be produced as part of the smoke and ashes. Avoid frequent or prolonged inhalation of sawdust from treated wood. Avoid frequent or prolonged skin contact with creosote-treated wood. When handling the wood, wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants and use gloves impervious to the chemicals. When power-sawing and machining, wear goggles to protect eyes from flying particles. Wash work clothes separately from other household clothing. -------
http://www.metrokc.gov/health/hazard/treatedwood.htm
Old railroad ties are frequently used to build raised beds or to terrace slopes. This wood has been treated with creosote, a product derived from coal. Creosote has certainly proven itself as wood preservative over a long period, but because it is toxic and because it has become a restricted-use pesticide, questions have arisen about its safe use around plants.
Creosote can volatilize into the air, especially during hot weather, and plant foliage in the vicinity of the ties may be damaged by the vapors. It can also leach into the soil near the ties, but it will not be absorbed by the roots and will therefore not get into the plants' tissues.
When using railroad ties for raised beds or similar areas, avoid putting plants too close to the wood. Keeping plants three of four inches away should prevent damage. Also, don't ever use creosote-treated wood in interior locations such as greenhouses, since the vapors will damage or kill plants in them.
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Chris
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Perhaps your first sentence should have read "I am looking at some old railroad ties", instead of "looking for".
In my humble opinion, I wouldn't use such near any garden for edibles. That includes any rain runoff if nearby, with the railroad ties serving some other purpose. I considered similar with some old utility poles. After researching creosote, I bowed out using them anywhere near my garden or mulch bed.
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Dave



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"Dioclese" <NONE> wrote in message

Perhaps your post should have read ....................................... oh, never mind.
Steve
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i definitely wouldn't use them for food plant raised beds, or nearby. and not where there would be a lot of personal contact with myself, i.e. where i might expect to sit on them while cultivating the bed or something.
that goes for pressure treated lumber too.
so what do i use? pvc fake wood fence boards...... but it turns out that vinyl doesn't migrate in the ground or get taken up by plants much at all.
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