Difference between Bitumen and Tar

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

The two substances are very similar, sometimes the terms tar and bitumen are used interchangeably, the bitumen can occur naturally whereas tar is usually artificially distilled, bitumen is in both solid and liquid forms, while tar is usually a viscous liquid.

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:


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

They are usually refers to a group of hydrocarbons that might be combined with some natural materials, it is known as petroleum in the liquid state, mineral tar in the 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 joints, 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, 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, its 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:

  • Tar 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 is often strong.Tar is a viscous liquid.
It is darkish black.It is jet black.
They have a low degree of toxicity.They have an excessive degree of toxicity.
It is an extra adhesive.It is the most adhesive.
Bitumen contains a moderate percentage of carbon.Tar contains a high percentage of carbon.
It is more resistant to water and acid.It is less resistant to water and acid.
They set quickly.They set 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.This is generated through distillation.
They are derived from coal and oil related sources.They are derived from petroleum, coal and wood.
Bitumen 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.
They are costly.They are cheap.
Also read: Concrete vs Asphalt, Plinth Level & Sill Level & Mortar vs Concrete


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.

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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