Difference between Bitumen and Tar

Among various substances, bitumen and tar are most commonly used substances in day to day activities.

The difference between bitumen and tar is that bitumen is obtained from sources such as coal and oil while tar is obtained from sources such as petroleum and wood.

Bitumen and Tar:

difference between Bitumen and tar


Bitumen is a stable or semipermeable, black, viscous, ductile substance, obtained as a necessary by-product from distillation of crude petroleum.

Bitumen usually refers to a group of hydrocarbons which might be combined with some natural materials.

It is known as petroleum in the liquid state, mineral tar in semifluid state and asphalt in a stable state.

Uses of Bitumen:

  • It is used as a damp-proof course in walls, basement, lining tanks, swimming swimming pools, urinals, and so on.
  • Since it makes good expansion joint, therefore it is used to fill joints in leaky roofs.
  • It is being used extensively as a road construction material.
  • It is used to make heat-insulating materials for buildings.
  • It is also engaged in the manufacture of roofing felt, impermeable paints and cold-cast bituminous plastics.
  • Bituminous paints are made by incorporating red, green or brown pigments in asphalt, these paints are suitable for decorative and waterproof flooring.


Tar is a black solid mass formed during destructive distillation of coal, peat, wood or different natural materials.

Tar contains 75 to 95% bitumen elements and an excessive percentage of carbon.

Typically, tar properties depend on the type of raw material used for manufacture, the method of distillation and the proportion of residual material involved.

It is a byproduct of manufacturing bituminous coke and is soluble in carbon disulfide.

Uses of Tar:

  • It is used to make roofs and roads.
  • It is used to make bituminous paint and water-proofing compounds.
  • Coal tar is used as a preservative for wood.
  • It is used for painting latrine walls.

Difference between Bitumen and Tar:

Bitumen    Tar
It is often strong.It is a viscous liquid.
It is darkish black.It is jet black.
It has a low degree of toxicity.It has an excessive degree of toxicity.
It is an extra adhesive.It is the most adhesive.
It contains a moderate percentage of carbon.It contains a high percentage of carbon.
It is more resistant to water and acid.It is less resistant to water and acid.
It sets quickly.Tar sets slowly as compare to bitumen.
When it expands, it gradually loses volatile matter thus gradually hardens.When it expands, it loses volatile matter at a faster rate thus hardens quickly.
This happens naturally.It is generated through distillation.
It is derived from coal and oil related sources.It is derived from petroleum, coal and wood.
It has high durability.Tar has much less durability than bitumen.
Its weather resistance is excessive.It has comparatively low weather resistance.
This produces much less degradation than tar.Higher deterioration happens when exposed to climate conditions.
It has much less specific gravity.It has the most specific gravity.
This produces an extra slippery surface.This produces a less slippery surface.
It has a low viscosity.It has excessive viscosity.
It is costly.It is cheap.




Using bitumen or tar is determined by conditions such as strength, sturdiness, price, etc.

Bitumen is extra versatile, durable and resistant to chemical compounds, so when it comes to quality, bitumen is the most effective in terms of economy & tar is extra economical than bitumen.

Now I’d like to hear from you, which section was new to you or maybe I missed something. Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Hello, I'm Rahul Patil founder of Constructionor.com, I had studied B.E. Civil. This blog provides authentic information regarding civil structures, equipment, materials, tests & much more.

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