I once loaded anthracene oil/creosate Oil in my stainless steel tanker and I had to transport it to some factory. The material was inside the tanker for throughout the journey that was of around 8 days.

The material got unloaded at the said factory. However I had another order to load Formaldehyde from the same city. I took my truck to the usual tanker service station to wash the tank with Detergents/water/diesel/scrubbing and everything which is quiet a normal procedure after and before any other liquid chemical.

However I have never had trouble with washing any other material as much as I am having with anthracene oil/creosote oil. It just doesn't seem to come off , the servicing person had severe respiratory problem when he went inside the tank.

Even after washing with several detergents, fast water streams and other things... the chemical is just not leaving the surface of my tank. One more thing, I think the service would have been much easier if the fumes/gas inside the tanker weren't so strong and scorching to the skin of the service person. He straight away told us to never come back with the same material.

Kindly let me know how to make sure to remove the essence of the gas/fumes left in the tank due to 8 days of material in the tank, how to remove the material from the surface of the tank and how to make this process well by using any other chemicals.

  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any information on what the components of the creosote oil are? What is its origin? $\endgroup$
    – Waylander
    Commented May 25, 2019 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ No I don't . I am not the manufacturer. Just a transporter. Do you think mixing water with caustic soda powder and let it remain inside the tank for few hours can help? $\endgroup$
    – user79549
    Commented May 25, 2019 at 12:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It depends on the constituents; wood-derived creosote oil contains a lot of phenols which will dissolve in sodium hydroxide solution. Coal-derived creosote oil is mainly polyaromatics which will not, it would be more likely to dissolve in toluene or gasoline. I would take sample of it and see what it does with sodium hydroxide or toluene/gasoline. $\endgroup$
    – Waylander
    Commented May 25, 2019 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ It's coal derived. My main concern is to remove the gas from the tank that gets entrapped in the tank because of several days of material inside the tanker during transit time..what could be done for that? $\endgroup$
    – user79549
    Commented May 25, 2019 at 13:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Kushgra Gupta two statements "the fumes/gas inside the tanker weren't so strong and scorching to the skin of the service person" and " he servicing person had severe respiratory problem when he went inside the tank " make me wondrous ,are you using chemical protection suits with face masks while cleaning. $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2019 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


Anthracene oil (CAS registry number: [90640-80-5]): Both European Chemical agency (ECHA) and US Toxicology Date Network (TOXNET) classify anthracene oil as:

A complex combination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons obtained from coal tar having an approximate distillation range of $\pu{300 ^{\circ}C}$ to $\pu{400 ^{\circ}C}$ ($\pu{572 ^{\circ}F}$ to $\pu{752 ^{\circ}F}$). Composed primarily of phenanthrene, anthracene, and carbazole.

Anthracene oil is also classified as a carcinogen the risks to human health and to the environment as well (though the relevant symbol is not issued).

Anthracene & Coal Tar Oil

Creosote oil (CAS registry number: [8001-58-9]): Creosote oil is a synonym for coal tar creosotes. It is a distillation product of coal tar. Creosote oil is an oily liquid consistency and range of color from yellowish-dark green to brown. It is a mixed compound, composed primarily of aromatic hydrocarbons, anthracene, naphthalene, and phenanthrene derivatives. At least 75% of the coal tar creosote mixture is polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

Creosote oil is heavier than water (specific gravity: 1.07-1.08) and has a continuous boiling range beginning at about $\pu{200 ^{\circ}C}$ (range: $\pu{194\!-\! 400 ^{\circ}C}$). They are slightly soluble in water, but miscible with alcohol and ether (Ref.1).

Koppers' Safety Data Sheet has following warnings for creosote oil:

Hazard Statements:

  • Causes eye irritation.
  • May cause cancer.
  • May cause respiratory irritation (No wonder your servicing person had severe respiratory problem when he went inside the tank).
  • Very toxic to aquatic life.
  • Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects.

It also listed following precautionary statements for prevention:

  • Avoid breathing dust/fume/gas/mist/vapors/spray.
  • Wash thoroughly after handling.
  • Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection.
  • Obtain special instructions before use.
  • Do not handle until all safety precautions have been read and understood.
  • Use only outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Avoid release to the environment.

I put all this effort to show that how dangerous your situation is and how ignorant you have been. Your first mistake is not receiving all special instructions for handling these kind of chemicals from responsible people (see above bold-face precaution). In your case, I assumed the manufacturer of the chemicals should provide these details. What you should have done now is go back to the manufacturer, and request the instruction for clean-up procedure safely. And be aware that whoever the person following that instructions, should wear with all personal protective equipment (PPE) required, specially suitable breathing equipment.

Alternatively, since the both oils are viscous, you may slant your tanks backward to make them drain out to safety container (for long time) before starting to wash them (assuming drainage is in the back). Once drained, a person wearing PPE can go inside and wipe out inner walls with cloths soaked with alcohol several times, since both oils are miscible in alcohol. Also, kerosene or gasoline or even coconut oil may work as well (please dispose those cloths accordingly). Finally, you should use appropriate detergent (or soap) with water to remove trace of remaining hazard chemicals (if there any) and washing organic material used.


  1. B. F Hibbs, J. Georges (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry), Toxicological Profile for Creosote (updates): Wood Creosote, Coal Tar Cresote, Coal Tar, Coal Tar Pitch, and Coal Tar Pitch Volatiles; Forwarded by Dr. D. Satcher; Prepared for US Department of Health & Human Services, 1996.

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