When Martin Albrecht discovered the “burning stones” over 100 years ago, he immediately realized what he had found. This marked the beginning of the success story of the Tiroler Steinöl® (shale oil), one of the most popular products for wellness treatments. The Albrecht family from Pertisau is behind the discovery and extraction of Tiroler Steinöl. Already in 1902, Martin Albrecht senior found the first oil shale on the shores of Lake Achensee. He struck the “Mariastollen” mining gallery and for over 15 years worked with two miners to manually extract the oil shale, smouldering the shale and extracting Tiroler Steinöl® for the first time. When oil shale deposits were running low at Lake Achensee, Martin Albrecht continued his search. In 1908, he found what he was looking for and discovered a huge oil shale deposit at an elevation of 1,500 metres above sea level in the Bächental, a side valley of the Karwendel mountains. After the Achensee distillery was destroyed by an avalanche in 1917, the Albrecht family built a new distillery in the Bächental valley. At that time, the Tiroler Steinöl® still had to be carried in 25 litre cans on “Kraxen” (back carrier frames) from the distillery over the Gröbner Joch to Achenkirch and from there, the oil was transported to the processing plant in Jenbach. To this day, the oil shale is mined sustainably and in an environmentally friendly method in the Bächental valley. Today, the oil is transported by road to the Steinölwerke in Jenbach for processing.
What is Tiroler Steinöl®? The active ingredients found in the oil shale originate from prehistoric sea creatures and plants, in other words, from a time when the entire continent was still under water. Due to its unique composition and the high content of organically-bound sulphur, Tiroler Steinöl® has an extraordinarily beneficial and caring effect on humans and animals. Whether as a mild skincare or haircare product or as a tried and tested household remedy for aching muscles – Tiroler Steinöl® is processed into a wide variety of products. Many wellness hotels offer treatments with the precious elixir, above all using shale oil bath essences, massage oil and fango packs.
How is Tiroler Steinöl® produced? The oil shale is wedged between massive limestone rocks, therefore blasting is used to break up the rock surface. The rocks are crushed and sorted manually before a material ropeway transports them to the smouldering plant 100 metres below. The oil shale is crushed into smaller pieces and fed into the state-of-the-art shaft furnaces for further processing. At a temperature of approx. 450°C the oil shale releases a gas which is condensed or rather liquefied in a downstream unit. The Tiroler Steinöl® obtained in this way will then be filtered, distilled and processed into various products at the Steinölwerke in Jenbach. The extraction of the shale oil only takes place in the summer months.
TIP: The Steinöl guided hiking tours offer visitors the chance to experience the production in the Bächental up close. Book your “shale oil getaway” directly at your favourite wellness hotel if you want to try spa treatments using Tiroler Steinöl®. If you want to learn more about the “black gold”, visit the Tiroler Steinöl Vitalberg visitor centre in Pertisau, which is open year-round, and see exhibits depicting the history of the shale oil distillery. All products are available to purchase in the museum’s shop.
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