Dippel's oil

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Dippel's oil (sometimes known as bone oil) is a nitrogenous by-product of the destructive distillation of bones.[1] A dark, viscous, tar-like liquid with an unpleasant smell, it is named after its inventor, Johann Conrad Dippel; the oil consists mostly of aliphatic chains, with nitrogen functionalities and includes species such as pyrroles, pyridines and nitriles, as well as other nitrogenous compounds.[1]

Dippel's oil had a number of uses which are now mostly obsolete, its primary use was as an animal and insect repellent. It saw limited use as a chemical warfare harassing agent during the desert campaign of World War II; the oil was used to render wells undrinkable and thus deny their use to the enemy.[2][3] By not being lethal, the oil was claimed to not be in breach of the Geneva Protocol.

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  1. ^ a b Purevsuren, B; Avid, B; Gerelmaa, T; Davaajav, Ya; Morgan, T.J; Herod, A.A; Kandiyoti, R (May 2004). "The characterisation of tar from the pyrolysis of animal bones". Fuel. 83 (7–8): 799–805. doi:10.1016/j.fuel.2003.10.011.
  2. ^ UK War Cabinet (22 August 1940). "Note on Method of Dealing with Drinking Water" (PDF). THE MIDDLE EAST : DIRECTIVE TO THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF. Annex 1.
  3. ^ "War diary of New Zealand Engineers, Western Desert Railway". 26 May 1942. Drew sterilising powder and other assorted poisons to adulterate our drinking water and took some to wells.