The historical uses of coresote can be divided into two parts
Soon after it was discovered and recognized as the principle of meat smoking, wood-tar creosote became used as a replacement for the process. Several methods were used to apply the creosote.
One was to dip the meat in acid or a water of diluted creosote, or brush it over with them, and within one hour the meat would have the same quality of that of traditionally smoked preparations.
The other manner was to dilute the creosote in vinegar as vinegar was also used as a preservative.
The application of wood tar to seagoing vessels was practiced through the 18th century and early 19th century, before the creosote was isolated as a compound. Wood-tar creosote was found not to be as effective in wood treatments, because it was harder to impregnate the creosote into the wood , and other treatments became popular. Also seagoing vessels increasinly in the 20th century were made from steel.
Larrea tridentata, or the so-called creosote bush, as named after its distinct creosote smell, was used by Native Americans in the Southwest as a treatment for many maladies.
The Coahuilla Indians used the plant for intestinal complaints and tuberculosis.
The Pima applied the boiled leaves as poultices to wounds or sores.
Papago Indians prepared it medicinally for stiff limbs & snake bites. Guaiacum was used in the Caribbean islands to treat tropical diseases and syphilis.
We will follow with more information on the historical medical uses of creosote in our next blog post.