How to Dispose of Creosote

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Railroad ties are treated with creosote.
Railroad ties are treated with creosote. (Image: railroad tracks image by pearlguy from Fotolia.com)

Creosote, made from coal, is used to treat wood to prevent the wood from rotting. Creosote is most often found in railroad ties and utility poles, so most homeowners would not come in contact with creosote. However, some have used old railroad ties and poles for landscaping purposes and now find themselves wondering how to dispose of it safely. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, creosote-treated wood “can be disposed of by ordinary trash collection.”

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt and pants
  • Goggles
  • Face mask
  • Garbage can

Wear protective clothing and gloves when handling creosote-treated wood. This includes wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants to prevent skin contact.

Wear goggles and a face mask when sawing creosote-treated wood. If you need to saw the wood into smaller pieces for trash collection, extra precautions are needed to prevent inhaling the fumes or getting creosote in your eyes.

Put the creosote-treated wood out with your normal trash for collection. You can put it in your garbage can or on the street, following your collection service requirements for garbage pickup.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some counties may have specific procedures for disposing of creosote-treated wood. Contact your county’s waste disposal department for more information.
  • The EPA also states that burial is an acceptable method of disposal.

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