Roofing tar always comes to our rescue, whenever our roof needs fixing. It is easy to get and doesn’t cost much.

This durable substance can protect our roof from rains, UV rays, and even hail. All of these make it the go-to material for a quick fix for our roof. However, Excessive use of tar may lead to an unwanted black mark on your roof.

Thinking about all its usefulness and risk factor, a question may pop into our mind, where does roofing tar come from?

Keep reading the article, if you want to find the answer.

What is Tar

Tar is a dense liquid substance made of carbons and hydrocarbons. It is dark brown or black in color. It can be made from fossil hydrocarbons, petroleum, coal, peat, wood, etc.

These organic materials go through destructive distillation. This creates a mixture of dark, sticky and dark substances, what we came to know as tar.

Where Does Roofing Tar Come From

 Where Does Roofing Tar Come From

The earliest form of tar was produced from woods and roots of pine. From Northern Europe to Ancient Greece to Scandinavia, there was heavy demand for tars since the iron age. Wood boats were the main way of naval transportation. So tar was used for fixing and water repellent.

Dry distillation ovens known as Tar kilns were made from limestone. Various woods were put into these ovens for distillation.

Birchbark in particular would produce finely refined tar leaving behind by-products such as turpentine and charcoal. Deciduous tree woods make tar, methanol, and charcoal. Pinewoods produced tar along with charcoal.

Decline Of Wood Tar

With the advancement of technology, wood tar became less prominent. Some roofs and traditional boats still use wood tar.

However, when iron and steel ships replaced wooden ships, other chemicals swiftly replaced wood tar. Tar produced from coal and petroleum are the most common roofing tar you will see nowadays.

Modern Age Roofing Tar Production 

Roofing Tar is the production of coal tar. During the coal production process, it is produced as a by-product. Most of the time, roofing tar is black in color. But, some companies produce silver and white roofing tar.

Coal tars must be purified extensively and must meet the required quality to be used as roofing tars. Other than coal tars, mineral fillers/fibers, surface adherents, plastics, solvents are also added to the mixture.

Coal tar can contain up to approximately 10,000 chemicals. Only about half of them have been identified so far.


Roofing tar has always been part of livelihood from the iron age to the modern age. As long as there is a place called home, roofing tar would be there to fix the roof. 

Now that you have read this article, next time when you use some roofing tar to fix your roof, you will surely be less concerned about where does roofing tar come from.

Have a nice day. Thank you for reading.


As a civil engineer and roofer, I love to share the experience that I have gained through the last couple of years. In the roofing industry, practical experience is a very crucial fact that can help you a lot. Hence, I want to help you with my blog.

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