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Birch tar

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**Chemical Composition**:
Birch tar/pitch is mainly composed of triterpenoid compounds of the lupane and oleanane family.
– Characteristic molecules found in birch tar include betulin, lupeol, lupenone, betulone, lupa-2,20(29)-dien-28-ol, and lupa-2,20(29)-diene.
– Allobetulin is also present in birch tar.

**Historical and Ancient Uses**:
Birch tar was used as an adhesive since the Middle Paleolithic era.
– Neanderthals produced tar by distilling birch bark around 200,000 years ago for tools and arrow fletching.
Birch tar has been used historically for disinfection, leather dressing, medicine, and waterproofing.

**Archaeological and Cultural Context**:
Birch tar was used in various historical periods for repairing ceramics, hafting tools, assembling metal artifacts, and leather production.
Birch tar oil was historically used in leather scenting, perfumery, and as a medicating agent.
Birch tar oil is an effective gastropod repellent due to its antiseptic properties.

**Modern Applications and Technological Implications**:
Birch tar oil is explored for modern applications as a repellent for gastropods in agricultural settings.
– Vishnevsky liniment and ichthammol, which contain birch tar oil, are studied for applications in military medicine.
– Modern studies focus on the effectiveness of birch tar oil beyond adhesive purposes.

**Chemical Analysis and Archaeological Findings**:
– Various analytical techniques like gas chromatography/mass spectrometry are used to identify wood tar pitches and archaeological adhesives.
Birch bark tar has been identified in archaeological contexts, including jewelry production, adhesive purposes, and the production of Russia Leather in the 19th century.

Birch tar (Wikipedia)

Birch (bark) tar or birch pitch is a substance (liquid when heated) derived from the dry distillation of the bark of the birch tree.

Birch bark pitch made in a single pot: The birch bark is heated under airtight conditions, the final product consists of tar and the ashes of the bark.
Modern way of producing birch bark tar in a single pot: the birch bark is heated under airtight conditions; the final product consists of tar and the ashes of the bark.
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