Many West Texans recognize the distinctive smell of creosote and associate it with rain. Creosote has one weakness though, fire. Creosote Bush Salve became a bona fide business in 2012. Submitted by Johnny Ramirez on Thu, 2015-04-30 16:41. “Rain volatilizes that waxy coating which then produces a distinct, camphor-like odor which some desert dwellers call the smell of rain. The odor goes right down the chimney and into the house because high air pressure outside forces air down the chimney, bringing soot, creosote… If discussing soot resulting from burning oil, or even gas, this is just soot and it’s just called soot. It is non-buoyant in water, with a specific gravity of 1.037 to 1.087, retains fluidity at a very low temperature, and boils at 205-225 °C. Especially in a house that was built to be fairly airtight, this can happen when a … A special thanks to Walt Whitford for lending his expertise to this blog. This is a microbial community of algae, fungi, and bacteria that in exchange for a place to live, gives the plant nutrients as rainwater flows over it and into the soil. The plants of the Chihuahuan Desert where The Jornada Experimental Range is located, and where we do our research, are incredibly good at surviving a harsh desert environment. Soot is black and powdery and is mostly made of amorphous carbon. Unpublished Book Chapter. Creosote treated joists in crawlspace Creosote smell in basements and crawl spaces: Many seaside/waterfront homes built in the early 1900s to the 1980s were built using floor joists, beams, posts and sheathing that were treated with creosote, a tar like substance (think of telephone poles) to prevent termite infestations and wood rot. This becomes a big problem when it is especially hot and dry as it always is during the day in the desert. Many of these bushes may outlive our grandchildren and survive droughts that occur only once in a thousand years. That magical fragrance comes courtesy of larrea tridenta, or the creosote plant, which grows only in the arid Southwest areas of … Relatively high temperatures in the chimney flue. Creosote is known as a blood cleanser, an antioxidant, antiviral and antibiotic agent, and is used for infections, skin problems, and auto-immune diseases such as arthritis, and may help to lower blood cholesterol. It is common throughout Western North America, and it’s becoming even more common. Its branches and leaves grow in a shape meant to capture as much morning sunlight as possible. It is from a combination of  this and dust that has settled on its branches between storms that allows creosote bush to pick up 9 times as much phosphorus and 16 times as much nitrogen than is in regular rainwater. The resinous leaf nodes were used to soothe bruises and wounds. A Tohono O’odam friend of mine told me he prized creosote leaves as an incense to burn for ceremony. AIM - Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring, Interactive Map of ESD-Based Recovery Classes, Obtain/create spatial data linking soil component, State codes via generalized ecological sites, Database for Inventory, Monitoring & Assessment (DIMA), USDA Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change, Research Authorization & Documentation Forms, Book: Structure and Function of a Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystem, Special Issue: Ecological Sites for Landscape Management, Special Issue: Shifting Paradigms in Drylands, Centennial Special Issue: Big Science Questions, Book: Long Term Trends in Ecological Systems, Forest & Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center, USDA-ARS Southwestern Cotton Ginning Research Lab, “5 things you didn’t know about Ocotillo”, grasses and wildflowers of the Chihuahuan Desert, Chemical Structure of Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, 5 Things You Need To Know About How We’re Using Modern Technology To Understand Our Changing Environment, 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Creosote Bush, Helping to Solve Food Scarcity: an App Brings Expertise to the World’s Farmers, New Methods of Identifying Climate Change in Desert Southwest ‘Unearthed’, Goats Helping An Ecosystem, One Munch At A Time, Bird of the Week: Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata), Bird of the Week: Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys), Fall Flowering Plants in the Chihuahuan Desert, Understanding What Causes Desertification, Bird of the Week: Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), Bird of the Week: Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), Bird of the Week: Pyrrhuloxia or Desert Cardinal (Cardinalis sinuatus), Bird of the Week: Rock Dove (Columba livia), Bird of the Week: House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), Bird of the Week: Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). You may have seen creosote sweeping logs on the shelves at big-box stores and wondered if they really work. It may also smell like acetone, which is found in nail polish remover, or have a sulfur smell similar to rotten eggs. It is so good at making efficient use of its limited resources that it will slowly overtake ecosystems like grasslands and turn them into creosote shrubland. It can also grow into a hemisphere, an upside down bowl shape that allows leaf litter and other organic material to collect beneath its branches. It has evolved associations with more than 60 species of insects, including 22 species of bees that feed only on its flowers. Creosote: Ancient Desert Shrub That Smells Like Rain Creosote is a hardy Pleistocene invader with rain-volatilized, aromatic leaves. These tar-fog droplets often will condense and collect on the cooler interior walls of both the fireplace and chimney flue system. These bees can lay in larval form near the shrubs also waiting for the rain to bring them to life. If you are familiar with the Chihuahuan Desert, you will recognize the creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) as ubiquitous. This practice ended in the 70s when the FDA discontinued its use in food, but recent research on the chemical has found some promise in its ability to reduce cancerous tumors in animals. It is during this time that creosote bush undergoes photosynthesis, and shuts it down when the sun rises higher. Debris. This creates an island of fertility that allows other plants and animals to live underneath, creating a rich soil that is full of nutrients for the creosote bush. If you have a small water smoker there probably isn't a lot you can do to hold in smoke or control how much gets away. Other tribes made a strong tea from the dried leaves to treat the common cold. Unfortunately, creosote has an aroma that is very persistent, so use of creosote is limited to a few outdoor sites. Since the plant photosynthesizes only in the mornings when humidity is highest, it needs to maximize the amount of sunlight it receives during that time. Also check out some of our YouTube videos on “grasses and wildflowers of the Chihuahuan Desert.”. Look for the little beetles that show up when the creosote bush has the fuzzy seeds. These nutrients are rare in the desert and give the plant a huge leg up over its competition. What does creosote plant look like? The problem all plants face is that they must “breathe” in carbon dioxide through openings on the underside of their leaves called stomata, but doing so means they lose water. • Verde Valley Archaeology Center• Astronomers of Verde Valley• Grand Canyon Association, journeys@crossingworlds.comToll free: 1-800-350-2693(initial call)PHONE: + 1 (928) 282-0846, ©2019 BY CROSSING WORLDS JOURNEYS & RETREATS  •  Designed by Sandra Cosentino and The Myss Miranda Agency, Creosote: Ancient Desert Shrub That Smells Like Rain, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), « Captivated by the Spell of the Southwest, Hopi Cycle of the Year and Visitor Etiquette », See our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions. The second and most common culprit is creosote. Any plant you see growing is there because it is the successful result of millions of years of evolution. With time, this ring expands outward as old branches die and new branches take their place, and eventually become separate bushes which are clones of the original seed. And a tea made from the leaves and sweetened with a little honey was said to greatly relieve kidney pain. Using radiocarbon dating and known growth rates of creosote, scientists have estimated the age of “King Clone” as 11,700 years. A dirty, crusted smoker will help produce creosote. Mabry, T.J.; Hunziker, J.H. There was a storm the other day, just a little thunder, wind, and rain here, but farther to the north, it was a storm. But practices like fire suppression, or overgrazing that limits how much fuel there is for fire, allows the creosote bush to take over. While the creosote bush is inedible to most browsing animals, some small mammals such as the black-tailed jackrabbit consume the seeds and some species of rats eat the twigs. Very interesting. They also burn longer. The Apaches chewed and swallowed a small piece of creosote branch to cure diarrhea. Fire keeps creosote bush in check The creosote bush thrives in the desert. The more severe the creosote buildup is … The logs on the fire have plenty of air during the combustion p… The Rutland Dry Creosote Remover is formulated to deeply penetrate thick, sticky, tar-like creosotes and chemically transforms it into an ash-like powder that can be swept off like dust. ; Diffo, D.R., Jr. (1977) Creosote Bush: Biology and Chemistry of Larrea in New World Deserts. The drug causes a host of troubling effects, including extreme agitation, aggression and insomnia. At the end of the last Ice Age, about 11,000 years ago,  as the climate became warmer and drier, the junipers who used to inhabit the lower regions of the Southwest retreated to the nearby mountains, and creosote appeared on the scene. Not only is removal of creosote important to keep your chimney in good working condition, but the buildup of creosote can cause your fireplace to smell like asphalt or barbeque gone bad. There is enough moisture in your breath to volatilize the wax. The whole plant exhibits a characteristic odor of creosote, from which the common name derives. Eliminating Creosote . So the creosote bush only opens its stomata in the mornings when the humidity is relatively high and the loss of water is the lowest. Even in our urban cocoons, we are woven within complex ecosystems exquisitely adapted to our local soils, light, moisture and temperatures. Rain is rare in the desert, and any plant has to be able to get as much of it as it can while losing as little of it as possible. The Creosote Bush Smells Like Rain— The beetles look like walking seeds. Creosote and Soot. Then you need to make sure that you have proper airflow. The smell is due to creosote deposits in the chimney, a natural byproduct of wood burning. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid is a powerful antioxidant that the creosote bush produces for protection. “The desert is … There are lots of oils in the plant that make up this smell. People like to describe it as smelling like rain! Near Lucerne Valley, “King Clone” has an average diameter of 45 feet! This is also why …. Wood-tar creosote is a colourless to yellowish greasy liquid with a smoky odor, produces a sooty flame when burned, and has a burned taste. Moisture. In its purest form it … Long Draw Fire Aftermath By Jeff Clark, Oregon BLM Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0, Creosote Flowers "Resinous" By Anne Reeves Creative Commons CC BY-ND 2.0, Chemical Structure of Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid By Edgar181. As a child of the 1970s, I always deeply loved the smell of the garden fences, freshly painted with creosote. What Does Creosote Smell Like? Does anyone happen to know of a scent that reminds them strongly of this smell? What does creosote smell like? Creosote bush has a unique set of evolutionary adaptations that allows it to outcompete many other plants in its ecosystems, given the right opportunities. If your chimney smells like asphalt or bad barbecue, then you have creosote and soot build-up. Creosote is a black or dark brown flammable tar produced by wood smoke. It has encountered and adapted to more environmental challenges than you could ever imagine. Creosote, a buildup of the byproducts of combustion, can cause odor in your chimney which can permeate through your entire home. (Harold DeLisle, PhD). Tamarack produces a nice long burn, gives off very little creosote to build up in your chimney, and leaves very fine ash to clean out and not much of it. Creosote, the filmy residue deposited in a chimney by burning wood, is the bane of many fireplaces and a big reason a wood-burning fireplace needs to be inspected each year, since creosote deposits can increase fire risks. A few months ago, I came across a basket of small tins of Creosote Bush Salve at The Get Go grocery in Marfa and opened one up. If the prevailing wind is especially strong, only the clones downwind of the parent plant will survive, forming a line of plants instead of an expanding ring.”. Creosote, which smells much like mothballs, is a chemical concoction that has been widely used as a preservative to treat pier pilings, railroad ties, utility poles, and other wood that sometimes winds up in the construction of a home or office building. Waxy coating on creosote leaves prevents water loss and protects the plant from being eaten by most mammals and insects. ” (Jonathan DuHamel). First stage creosote is mostly ashy soot. Soot and creosote can build up on the inside of the chimney or flue and leave a lingering smell coming your fireplace or stove. Submitted by leslie walker (not verified) on Sun, 2015-05-17 18:34, Contact Us   |   Agricultural Research Service   |   ARS News and Information   |   Statements and Disclaimers   |   Freedom of Information Act. Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that can be smoked, snorted, injected or swallowed. The creosote bush thrives in the desert. More precisely, it smelled like waking up at the hotel I used to manage in Desert Hot Springs, where creosote… 1-800-350-2693 (for initial call only)  | Office:  928-282-0846, “The desert is unpredictable, enigmatic. The soot smell is indicative of a creosote build-up in your chimney. Folk medicine practitioners have used creosote for centuries as a salve or ointment, especially as an antiseptic and pain reliever. This is NOT to be confused with the creosote that is used for wood preservation, which is a petroleum product distilled from tar. While this may seem like not using the sunlight is wasted potential, it is in fact a smart move since it saves water. The smell of creosote after a good rain is the result of many volatile oils, but mostly terpene (a compound found in pines), limonene (citrus), camphor (pines and rosemary), methanol (wood alcohol), and 2-undecanone (spices). If by chance you have creosote-coated wood in a place where the smell or the creosote itself is a problem, you may prefer to resolve the problem without removing the wood. So whether you see the creosote bush as just another desert plant or find its aroma intriguing in the rain, we can all respect its tenacity, its ability to thrive where few of its peers can. The next, the desert can smell just like rain.” (quote above by Gary Nabhan from The Desert Smells Like Rain). Desert creosote bushes provide shelter and shade for crickets, grasshoppers and other desert insects. A fresh, earthy aroma wafted out. Fortunately, you can remove this smell from your home. Dense hardwoods like maple and oak have a higher energy content and so release more heat. What Is Meth? His ancestral people knew the inherit purifying qualities of this plant on both the physical and spiritual levels. The creosote remover is designed to work on various kinds of chimneys, these range from synthetic material, metal, to … For reference, the smokiest perfumes I already have are Bulgari Black, Shalimar (extrait) and Chergui. What Does a Creosote Bush Smell Like? And in the desert it is always water, not sunlight that limits plant growth. The term is almost exclusively used when talking about burning wood. This musky smell comes from a coating on the Creosote’s leaves that helps it preserve water. To many of us, it smells like home. Creosote is from smoke that contains droplets of unburned carbon and is often referred to as tar-fog. California King Clone creosote circle may be as old as 11,700 years. Whitford, Walt (2014) The Remarkable Creosote. It might also suggest that the wood you're burning is not sufficiently seasoned and has a high moisture content. When I went outside the next morning it smelled like creosote. It is a dark, flammable tar that is absorbed by the masonry inside your chimney. If your chimney smells like ——– Then it most likely is from… Bad Barbeque/Asphalt ————- Creosote build up Musty Odor ————————– Water sitting in your smoke chamber Rot and Decomposition ———— Fallen leaves combining with damp soot and rotting in the chimney It is currently under research as a chemotherapeutic agent for cancer, and shows promise. Softer woods like birch, pine, and spruce are less dense, so they burn out faster. The smell of creosote after a good rain is the result of many volatile oils, but mostly terpene (a compound found in pines), limonene (citrus), camphor (pines and rosemary), methanol (wood alcohol), and 2-undecanone (spices). On many creosote bushes you will see black areas on some branches. One minute you will be smelling dust. Until we take time to really look, how little we know of the intricate lives of the plant and animal beings that surround us. 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Them strongly of this smell will condense and collect on top of the byproducts of combustion, can cause unpleasant... And swallowed a small piece of creosote is a complex mixture of hundreds of distinct chemicals rather than one chemical! Just like rain. ” ( quote above by Gary Nabhan from the leaves and sweetened with a smoke,.