We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What Are the Different Uses for Tar?

By Maggie J. Hall
Updated: May 17, 2024

Originating centuries ago, coal and pine tar are used as the basis for coatings that preservative and act as water repellents sealants. Manufacturers often create tar based products for construction or marine industries. The substance also has a special place in baseball and is a common ingredient in skin care products.

Naturally sticky and waterproof, the brown to black colored liquid is a common ingredient in products for sealing roofs and outdoor wooden decks. The resin hardens, appears shiny, and becomes impenetrable to moisture. Combined with polymers or silica, coal or pine resin might also be used as a protective coating on aluminum, concrete, steel, or wood. Tar products may be applied to the exterior or interior of pipelines or sewage, storage, and water tanks.

Used alone or in combination with varnish, coal, or pine resin, tar protects wood surfaces indoors and out with against rot from weather exposure. It also deters mold growth and insect infestation. Lumber industries commonly pressure treat wood with creosote, which is manufactured using coal tar or pine tar.

Some shipyards continue to use the tarry substance for coating the exteriors of ships. Though builders construct vessels with steel more often than wood, the surfaces still require protection from both fresh and salt water. Even painted steel surfaces corrode and rust, and coal tar epoxies applied in layers protect ship structures. Mariners also use the products for coating ropes and cords, preventing the fibers from fraying and rotting under harsh conditions.

Baseball players improve their grip on the bat by applying the sticky liquid. They might also apply tar to baseballs, which not only improves a grip on the ball but also alters its spin when thrown. Players generally maintain a layer of the gooey paste on their helmets or gloves. The substance is permitted by baseball regulation agencies.

Before the invention of modern antibacterial ointments, uses for tar included topical preparations, made in many homes, that were designed to prevent infection. For centuries, farmers and ranchers used resin ointments and salves on livestock for open wounds or hoof dressings. Livestock and tack supply stores still sell these veterinary products.

Over-the-counter and prescription ointments, salves, and shampoos often contain coal or pine tar to treat dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. The substance frequently resolves the flaking, itching, and scaling associated with these disorders by encouraging the shedding of dead skin layers. These preparations also smooth and soften skin, slowing the cycle of drying, dying skin, and cellular replacement.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.