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I have access to many cross ties and thought of using them for raised beds. I was told that they were bad because of the creosote and that you shouldn't have kids around them. I would like to hear others opinions. Thanks.
 

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greenacres said:
I have access to many cross ties and thought of using them for raised beds. I was told that they were bad because of the creosote and that you shouldn't have kids around them. I would like to hear others opinions. Thanks.
I wouldn't want to eat veggies sourounded by poisionous wood. Nor would I want my children near them for any length of time.

I read where some people who use them wrap them in a lot of plastic to keep them from contactiing the ground

http://www.nsc.org/library/chemical/Creosote.htm


Health effects:

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has determined that coal tar creosote is probably carcinogenic to humans. EPA has determined that coal tar creosote is probably a human carcinogen, and that coal tar pitch is a human carcinogen; it classified coal tar creosote as a carcinogen in the 1992 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). Skin cancer and cancer of the scrotum have resulted from long exposure to low levels of these chemical mixtures, especially through direct contact with skin during wood treatment or manufacture of coal tar creosote-treated products, or in coke or natural gas factories. Cancer of the scrotum in chimney sweeps has been associated particularly with prolonged skin exposure to soot and coal tar creosote. Eating food or drinking water contaminated with a high level of creosotes may cause a burning in the mouth and throat, as well as stomach pains. Brief exposure to large amounts of coal tar creosote may result in a rash or severe irritation of the skin, chemical burns of the surfaces of the eye, convulsions, mental confusion, kidney or liver problems, unconsciousness, or even death. Longer exposure to lower levels of coal tar creosote, coal tar, or coal tar pitch by direct contact with skin or by exposure to the vapors from these mixtures can also result in sun sensitivity and cause damage to skin, such as reddening, blistering, or peeling. Longer exposures to the vapors of the creosotes, coal tar, or coal tar pitch can also cause irritation of the respiratory tract.
 

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Assuming that creosote leached out of the ties and migrated towards the plants, and crossed cell membranes, entered the plants vascular system and was distributed throughout, the dilution would be tremendous.

Old ties have been leached out for years. We use them all the time. Our organic person readily eats veggies from RR tie beds.
 

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Cross ties that get sold to the public have been exposed to the weather for a long time. As the previous poster said, there isn't any problem using them for raised beds. Most of the leachable creosote is long gone. Even if someone in your family started rubbing their balls on the cross ties, I doubt they'd get scrotum cancer before they picked up a nasty splinter and stopped doing that.
 

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Well, when we built a raised garden for my sister we used old railroad ties on 3 sides of it because we built it into a hillside and thus the water coming in didn't cross the ties til was on the way out away from the plants. We've used them for everything from fence posts around the yard and corral, borders around the flowers, cable posts coming down the driveway--we've yet to grow a 3rd eye or extra hands----however the extra hand would be helpful LOL

BTW we did consciously build the garden so the water wouldn't cross the ties before the plants based on the fact that if you have white peonies and want to tint their color, you bury rusty nails around the roots and they absorb the tint from those, we were unsure if creosote was as asorbable.
 

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If you would rather be safe, you could line the inside of the timbers with a heavy plastic. This would isolate the soil from any contact with creosote and it would prolong the life of whatever you use. Once the creosote has diminished for years, the timber will succumb to nature. You might be lucky to get 10 years.
 
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