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Tar Stain Removal

COIT’s Guide on How to Remove Tar Stains

Looking for ways to remove tar stains in your home? COIT can help you get rid of tar stains with a few do-it-yourself solutions. We offer a guide to removing tar stains that can keep your various surfaces, including fabric, looking its best.

The History of Tar

Before we jump into specific tar stain removal techniques you can use at home, let’s take a closer look at what tar is and why it seems to stain. 

Tar is defined as a “dark, thick, flammable liquid distilled from wood or coal, consisting of hydrocarbons, resins and alcohols, and used in road making.” It has been used for centuries and dates back to the Ancient Greeks. Tar acted as water repellant coating for roofs and ships throughout Northern Europe, proving to be quite the useful substance. Even the ancient Greeks used what is called birch bar tar, which they actually produced from wood. They would apply this birch bar tar to broken pots when trying to put them back together. Removing tar stains probably wasn’t a huge concern to the Greeks.Furthermore, the Roman Empire was actually glued together thanks to birch bar tar! In Finland, tar was once used as a type of cure-all that was believed to have special healing abilities. In fact, it’s still considered a mild disinfectant. And believe it or not, tar is an additive that’s used to flavor foods, alcohol and certain types of candy that we consume today. 

Types of Tar

When you’re attempting tar stain removal, remember that there is more than one type of tar, which includes pine tar, coal tar and birch tar, all of which create tar stains. When you heat pine wood, this process causes tar and pitch to drip away from the wood, which then creates charcoal. Turpentine and charcoal are actually by-products of wood tar. 

Why Do Baseball Players Use Pine Tar?

In modern-day baseball, tar is used on a daily basis. But why do players coat their bats, and often their hands and helmets, with this sticky substance? It helps them get a good grip, which enables them to perform at their best. Baseball players rub pine tar, which is often mixed with dirt and rosin, directly onto the handle of the bar to make the grip even stickier. Yet another group of people who is probably not too concerned with how to remove tar stains. 

Composition of Tar

So what is tar made of? It’s good to know what you’re working with when you’re wondering how to remove tar stains. Pine tar, for example, actually contains turpentine, which is added to make the tar thinner. It’s made of up of tar acids, tar bases and aromatic hydrocarbons. Depending on the age of the pine tree it comes from, as well as the type of soil the tree was exposed to, pine tar’s exact components can vary. 

So the next time you encounter a tar stain, remember that COIT’s guide to removing tar stains can help you tackle even the toughest of stains on your own.