Either of two entirely different substances, distilled from coal tar or wood tar. Coal-tar creosote is a complex mixture of organic compounds, largely hydrocarbons. It is a cheap water-insoluble wood preservative used for railroad ties, telephone poles, and marine pier pilings and as a disinfectant, fungicide, and biocide. Wood-tar creosote consists mainly of phenols and related compounds and was once widely used for pharmaceutical purposes.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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