Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

Distillation of pitch oil in the eastern Mühlviertel region

Applicant: Dorfgemeinschaft Elz, Obmann Hermann Sandner
Province: Upper Austria
Domain: Traditional Craftsmanship
Year of inclusion: 2013

In the eastern part of the Mühlviertel, pitch oil (resinous oil) is still produced using so-called pitch oil stones and used as a traditional remedy. Cut to size ages ago, they are typically granite stones with furrows similar to leaf veins chiseled across their slightly slanted surface. Resinous pinewood is then piled onto the stone, covered with earth and lit. After about two hours pitch oil starts to flow in the furrows. This method of making pitch oil continues to be used by a few families, mostly in order to preserve the traditional knowledge of pitch oil and its uses. Widely used in early folk medicine, pitch oil today is today confined to hou sehold applications.