A reader writes in with a question.
Is there any way to treat rail road ties to keep the creosote from leaching out? If so can you please give me some examples. Thank You Very Much!!!
With older railroad ties, the creosote has often already oozed out, so they won’t cause a major problem. The University of Missouri Extension says that it is okay.
Personally, I wouldn’t use them around my own vegetable garden, period.
I wouldn’t be afraid to use them around flowerbeds or something like that, though.
Organic Gardening magazine hates railroad ties, and considers them unsafe.
Creosote is composed of a mixture of chemicals, about 300 of which have been identified, but there could be up to 10,000 more present in the mixture. Some components of this chemical cocktail dissolve in water or seep from treated wood. They can contaminate soil and move into groundwater, and persist for many years.
Here’s a good GardenWeb message board thread, where they talk about what to do with railroad ties that are already installed.