Difference Between Bitumen and Tar 

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Before knowing the difference between bitumen and tar; it is necessary to know what is bitumen and tar.


  1. Bitumen  

Bitumen is a solid or semisolid, black, sticky, ductile substance, obtained as an important byproduct from the distillation of crude petroleum.

Bitumen implies a group of hydrocarbons often mixed with some organic matter. It is known as petroleum in the fluid state, mineral tar in the semifluid state, and asphalt in the solid state.

Properties of bitumen

i. It is characteristically solid or semi-solid, black, and sticky.

ii. It melts or softens on the application of heat.

iii. Its specific gravity is 1.09.

iv. It is completely soluble in carbon disulphide.

v. It is a binder in all types of asphalt.

vi. It possesses great chemical stability but is affected by oil.

vii. It has low permittivity and high insulation resistance.


i. It is used as a damp-proof course in walls and under basements and inlining tanks, swimming pools, urinals, etc.

ii. Since it forms a good expansion joint, therefore, it is used for filling up the joints in leaky roofs.

iii. It is being extensively used as a road-making material.

iv. It is used for making heat-insulating materials for buildings.

v. It is also employed in the manufacture of roofing felt, impermeable paints, and cold molded bituminous plastics.

Bituminous paints are made by incorporating red, green, or brown pigments into the asphalt.

These paints are suitable for decorative and waterproof flooring.





  2. Tar  

Tar is a black solid mass that is formed during the destructive distillation of coal, peat, wood, or other organic material. It contains 75 to 95% of bituminous content. It contains a higher percentage of carbon.

Usually, tar properties depend upon the type of raw material used for manufacture, the method of distillation, and the proportion of residual matter incorporated.

It hardens much quicker than asphalt. It is more adhesive than asphalt. It possesses toxicity to a high degree.

According to the American Society of Testing Materials, tar is a black or dark-brown bituminous condensate that provides substantial quantities of the pitch when practically evaporated or fractionally distilled and which is obtained by destructive distillation of organic material such as coal, oil, lignite, peat, and wood.

It is the byproduct of the manufacture of bituminous coke and is soluble in carbon disulphide.



i. It is used for roofing and road making.

ii. It is used for making bituminous paints and water-proofing compounds.

iii. Coal tar is used as a preservative for timber.

iv. It is used for painting latrine walls.





  3. Difference Between Bitumen and Tar  

1It is usually solid.It is a viscous liquid.
2It is deep black.It is jet black.
3It has a low degree of toxicity.It has a high degree of toxicity.
4It is more adhesive.It is most adhesive.
5It consists of a moderate percentage of carbon.It consists of a high percentage of carbon.
6It is more resistive to water and acid.It is less resistive to water and acid.
7It sets quickly.It sets slowly.
8When it is spread, it loses volatile matter slowly and thus hardens slowly.When it is spread, it loses volatile matter at a faster rate and thus hardens quickly.
9It occurs naturally.It is produced through distillation.
10It is derived from sources associated with coal and oil.It is derived from petroleum or coal and wood.
11It has high durability.It has less durability than bitumen.
12It has high weather resistance.It has comparatively low weather resistance.
13It produces less deterioration than tar.Greater deterioration is produced when exposed to weather conditions.
14It has low specific gravity.It has maximum specific gravity.
16It produces a more slippery surface.It produces a less slippery surface.
17It has a low viscosity.It has a high viscosity.
18It is expensive.It is cheaper.





  4. Conclusion  

The use of bitumen or tar depends upon the conditions like strength, durability, cost, etc.

Bitumen is more flexible, durable & resistant to chemicals. So, from the view of quality; bitumen is the best.

In terms of the economy;  tar is more economical than bitumen.



  5. References  

1. Content Filter & Authenticity Checking Team, Dream Civil International

(Our team checks every content & detail to maintain quality.)




Read More: Cement vs Lime


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