Stone Oil: A Liquid Fossil That Works Wonders

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Aching joints, strained muscles, irritated skin, even ticks on your dog – all of these can be eliminated with a dose of Tyrolean Stone Oil.

This dark oil is found only in the Karwendel Mountains of Tirol, Austria, where it has been mined for over 100 years.

Oil Slate is slate containing the 180million year old remains of tiny animals and plants. It’s basically a liquid fossil trapped in the structure of the rock. But unlike the oil we pump out of the ground to fuel our modern society, this shale oil is not found naturally as a liquid, nor can it be used for fuel – it’s just not suitable.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. It has many proven pharmaceutical and health benefits.

This stone oil was first discovered by Martin Albrecht in 1908 and the business is still run by the Albrecht family to this day. It’ a small operation that has deliberately turned its back on the offer of mass production and worldwide exports in order to ensure the authenticity and quality of the product.


It is surface mined by hand, carried down the mountain in tiny cable trains, heated at the family stone oil distillery, and bottled and labelled in Pertisau. Everything takes place within a 10km radius of Pertisau – you can’t get much more local than that!

Only around 200 tonnes of oil slate rock are carried down the mountain each year. This is then heated to 500C releasing the oil vapour (as a smoke) from the stone. This is captured, cooled by Nitrogen, and condensed to produce the thick black oil. This black oil is the active ingredient in a range of Tiroler Steinol products from bath oil to shampoo, from body lotion to soap, from a medicinal salve to a tonic for sore muscles. Plus a whole range of products for animals including shampoos that remove ticks and insects from fur as well as helping to ward off flies.

The original products have a strong, earthy, tar smell (which is actually quite pleasant in a ‘back to nature’ way), but if this isn’t for you then there are perfumed versions too.

If you stay in Pertisau for a few days (and it’s a lovely place to stop and relax) then there are plenty of opportunities to try out wellness treatments based around the local stone oil.

For example, at the Wiesenhof Hotel you can relax in a large wooden bath (big enough for two) and soak in a warm bath infused with the Steinol. It’s a great way to relax your muscles and joints after a day hiking or cycling, and it leaves your skin soothed and soft.

Or try a stone oil fango – basically get lathered in the oil, then wrapped up, and gently warmed while floating in a soft pack (like a giant water bed).

Or how about a massage? There are lots of options.

You won’t find Tiroler Steinol anywhere else, so make the most of it – and leave a bit of room in your suitcase for a few take-home products.

Vitalberg – the Tyrolean Steinol Shop, Museum and Cafe in Pertisau –
Tyrolean Steinol –
Wiesenhof –
Achensee Tourism –

About the Author
Chantal Cooke is an award winning journalist and co-founder of PASSION for the PLANET radio

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