What is Tar

What is Tar | Different uses of Tar

Tar is a black or dark brown viscous fluid of hydrocarbons and free carbon, extracted from a wide variety of organic matter through a destructive distillation process. Tar can be extracted from coal,  petroleum, wood, or peat. Mineral products resembling tar can be produced from fossil hydrocarbons, such as petroleum.

We can also define tar as a dark, thick flammable liquid distilled from wood or coal and consisting of a mixture of hydrocarbons, resins, alcohols, and other compounds. Tar used in road-making work and for coating and preserving wood/timber.

 Uses of Tar

Tar can be used to seal roofing shingles and tar paper as well as seal the hulls of ships and boats.

For many years, wood tar was used in waterproofing sails and boats, but in the modern world, sails made from inherently waterproof material substances have reduced the demand for tar over time.

Wood tar is still used to seal the roofs of traditional shingle-roofed churches, traditional wooden boats as well as painting exterior walls of timber buildings.

Waterproofing Methods

Tar is also a natural disinfectant and pine tar oil, or wood tar oil is used for the surface treatment of wooden shingle roofs, boats, buckets, and tubs and in the medicine, soap, and rubber industries.

Pine tar has excellent penetration on the rough wood. An old wood tar oil recipe for the treatment of wood is one-third each genuine wood tar, balsam turpentine, and boiled or raw linseed oil or Chinese tung oil.

In Finland, wood tar was once considered a panacea reputed to heal “even those cut in twain through their midriff”. A Finnish proverb states that “if sauna, vodka, and tar won’t help, the disease is fatal.” Wood tar is used in traditional Finnish medicine because of its microbicidal properties.

Wood tar is also available diluted as tar water, which has numerous uses:

  • As a flavoring for candies (e.g., Terva Leijona) and alcohol
  • As a spice for food, like meat.
  • As a scent for saunas. Tar water is mixed into water, which is turned into steam in the sauna.
  • As an anti-dandruff agent in shampoo.
  • As a component of cosmetics.

Asphalt Meaning & Tar

Asphalt can be defined as a mixture of the dark bituminous pitch with gravel or sand used for surfacing roads, flooring, and roofing.

And a Tar is a  thick, dark, flammable liquid distilled from coal, wood consisting of a mixture of hydrocarbons, resins, alcohols, and other compounds. It is used in road making and for coating and preserving timber.

Bitumen is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder mixed with aggregate particles to create asphalt concrete. Its other main uses are for bituminous waterproofing products, including the production of roofing felt and for sealing flat roofs.

The tar-like products can also be produced from other forms of organic matter, such as peat. Mineral products resembling tar can be produced from fossil hydrocarbons, such as petroleum. Coal tar is produced from coal as a byproduct of coke production. Bitumen is a term used for natural deposits of oil “tar”, such as Tar Pits.

What is Road Tar

Road tar is a black fluid substance and is a blend of liquid asphalt and water. It is used in the construction of roadways, also to seal small cracks, and usually appears on the lower parts of a vehicle or in the wheel well.

Tar bitumens are increasingly being used as a binder in road works. They consist of a standard product of about 70% bitumen and 25-30% tar. Tar bitumens are classifiable as the pyrolysis products of organic materials and are applied hot.

Depending on the temperature used there are emissions of various intensities of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, some of which are carcinogenic.

Difference between Tar, Asphalt and Bitumen


Tar is a resinous substance typically blackish or brown materials.


Asphalt is a mixture of the dark bituminous pitch with gravel or sand.

Asphalt is normally made with residual leftover from petroleum distillation tanks. It is widely used commercially as an important component in composite roofing shingles and sealing small holes in a roof and road surfacing.

Asphalt applied hot and allowed to dry in sunlight will solidify in roughly 12hours –36 hours.  Before to solidifying, its surface is highly sticky and viscous

So much asphalt is used commercially that it’s basically an industry unto itself.


Bitumen is a black viscous mixture of hydro carbons extracted naturally or as a residue from petroleum distillation.

Of the three, tar is the most common and generic term, because tars can occur naturally or by distillation or chemical reaction. There is coal tar, tar pine tar (sap), and tobacco.

Bitumen is that type of very thick, a substance normally found in oil deposits and the same as shale oil, except it is too thick to pump out using conventional equipment.

Bituminous coal is the most common term used by geologists.

Asphalt concrete

Asphalt concrete, also called asphaltblacktop, tarmacbitumen macadam, or rolled asphalt, is a composite material usually used to carpet the roads, parking areas, airports, and the main areas of embankment dams.

Asphalt mixtures have been used in pavement construction since the early 20th century. It consists of mineral aggregate bound together with asphalt, laid in layers, and compacted.

The terms asphalt concretebituminous asphalt concrete, and bituminous mixture are normally used only in engineering and building work documents, which define concrete as any composite material composed of mineral aggregate adhered with a binder.


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