Tar is a dark brown or black viscous liquid of hydrocarbons and free carbon, obtained from a wide variety of organic materials through destructive distillation. Tar can be produced from coal, wood, petroleum, or peat. 
Mineral products resembling tar can be produced from fossil hydrocarbons, such as petroleum. Coal tar is produced from coal as a byproduct of coke production.
"Tar" and "pitch" can be used interchangeably; asphalt (naturally occurring pitch) may also be called either "mineral tar" or "mineral pitch". There is a tendency to use "tar" for more liquid substances and "pitch" for more solid (viscoelastic) substances.  Both "tar" and "pitch" are applied to viscous forms of asphalt, such as the asphalt found in naturally occurring tar pits (e.g., the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles). "Rangoon tar", also known as "Burmese oil" or "Burmese naphtha", is also a form of petroleum.[ citation needed ] Oil sands, almost exclusively produced in Alberta, Canada, are colloquially referred to as "tar sands" but are in fact composed of asphalt, also called bitumen.  
For at least 600 years, wood tar has been used as a water repellent coating for boats, ships, and roofs. In Scandinavia, it was produced as a cash crop. "Peasant Tar" might be named for the district of its production. 
Wood tar is still used as an additive in the flavoring of candy, alcohol, and other foods. Wood tar is microbicidal. Producing tar from wood was known in ancient Greece and has probably been used in Scandinavia since the Iron Age. Production and trade in pine-derived tar was a major contributor in the economies of Northern Europe  and Colonial America. Its main use was in preserving wooden sailing vessels against rot. For centuries, dating back at least to the 14th century, tar was among Sweden's most important exports. Sweden exported 13,000 barrels of tar in 1615 and 227,000 barrels in the peak year of 1863. The largest user was the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. Demand for tar declined with the advent of iron and steel ships. Production nearly stopped in the early 20th century, when other chemicals replaced tar, and wooden ships were replaced by steel ships. Traditional wooden boats are still sometimes tarred.
The heating (dry distilling) of pine wood causes tar and pitch to drip away from the wood[ citation needed ] and leave behind charcoal. Birch bark is used to make particularly fine tar, known as "Russian oil", suitable for leather protection. The by-products of wood tar are turpentine and charcoal. When deciduous tree woods are subjected to destructive distillation, the products are methanol (wood alcohol) and charcoal.
Tar kilns (Swedish : tjärmila, Danish : tjæremile, Norwegian : tjæremile, Finnish : tervahauta) are dry distillation ovens, historically used in Scandinavia for producing tar from wood. They were built close to the forest, from limestone or from more primitive holes in the ground. The bottom is sloped into an outlet hole to allow the tar to pour out. The wood is split into dimensions of a finger, stacked densely, and finally covered tight with earth and moss. If oxygen can enter, the wood might catch fire, and the production would be ruined. On top of this, a fire is stacked and lit. After a few hours, the tar starts to pour out and continues to do so for a few days.
Tar was used as seal for roofing shingles and tar paper and to seal the hulls of ships and boats. For millennia, wood tar was used to waterproof sails and boats, but today, sails made from inherently waterproof synthetic substances have reduced the demand for tar. Wood tar is still used to seal traditional wooden boats and the roofs of historic, shingle-roofed churches, as well as painting exterior walls of log buildings. Tar is also a general disinfectant. Pine tar oil, or wood tar oil, is used for the surface treatment of wooden shingle roofs, boats, buckets, and tubs and in the medicine, soap, and rubber industries. Pine tar has good penetration on the rough wood. An old wood tar oil recipe for the treatment of wood is one-third each genuine wood tar, balsam turpentine, and boiled or raw linseed oil or Chinese tung oil.
In Finland, wood tar was once considered a panacea reputed to heal "even those cut in twain through their midriff". A Finnish proverb states that "if sauna, vodka and tar won't help, the disease is fatal."  Wood tar is used in traditional Finnish medicine because of its microbicidal properties.
Wood tar is also available diluted as tar water, which has numerous uses:
Mixing tar with linseed oil varnish produces tar paint. Tar paint has a translucent brownish hue and can be used to saturate and tone wood and protect it from weather. Tar paint can also be toned with various pigments, producing translucent colors and preserving the wood texture.
Tar was once used for public humiliation, known as tarring and feathering. By pouring hot wood tar onto somebody's bare skin and waiting for it to cool, they would remain stuck in one position. From there, people would attach feathers to the tar, which would remain stuck on the tarred person for the duration of the punishment. That person would then become a public example for the rest of the day. 
Tar was used in 9th-century Baghdad, which had streets paved with tar, derived from petroleum that became accessible from natural fields in the region. 
Coal tar was formerly one of the products of gasworks. Tar made from coal or petroleum is considered toxic and carcinogenic because of its high benzene content, though coal tar in low concentrations is used as a topical medicine. Coal and petroleum tar has a pungent odour.
Coal tar is listed at number 1999 in the United Nations list of dangerous goods.
Asphalt, also known as bitumen, is a sticky, black, highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a pitch. Before the 20th century, the term asphaltum was also used. The word is derived from the Ancient Greek ἄσφαλτος ásphaltos. The largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world, estimated to contain 10 million tons, is the Pitch Lake located in La Brea in southwest Trinidad, within the Siparia Regional Corporation.
Creosote is a category of carbonaceous chemicals formed by the distillation of various tars and pyrolysis of plant-derived material, such as wood or fossil fuel. They are typically used as preservatives or antiseptics.
Coke is a grey, hard, and porous coal-based fuel with a high carbon content and few impurities, made by heating coal or oil in the absence of air—a destructive distillation process. It is an important industrial product, used mainly in iron ore smelting, but also as a fuel in stoves and forges when air pollution is a concern.
Turpentine is a fluid obtained by the distillation of resin harvested from living trees, mainly pines. Mainly used as a specialized solvent, it is also a source of material for organic syntheses.
Pitch is a viscoelastic polymer which can be natural or manufactured, derived from petroleum, coal tar, or plants. Various forms of pitch may also be called tar, bitumen, or asphalt. Pitch produced from plants is also known as resin. Some products made from plant resin are also known as rosin.
Dry distillation is the heating of solid materials to produce gaseous products. The method may involve pyrolysis or thermolysis, or it may not.
Pine tar is a form of wood tar produced by the high temperature carbonization of pine wood in anoxic conditions. The wood is rapidly decomposed by applying heat and pressure in a closed container; the primary resulting products are charcoal and pine tar.
Coal oil is a shale oil obtained from the destructive distillation of cannel coal, mineral wax, or bituminous shale, once used widely for illumination.
Destructive distillation is a chemical process in which decomposition of unprocessed material is achieved by heating it to a high temperature; the term generally applies to processing of organic material in the absence of air or in the presence of limited amounts of oxygen or other reagents, catalysts, or solvents, such as steam or phenols. It is an application of pyrolysis. The process breaks up or 'cracks' large molecules. Coke, coal gas, gaseous carbon, coal tar, ammonia liquor, and coal oil are examples of commercial products historically produced by the destructive distillation of coal.
An upgrader is a facility that upgrades bitumen into synthetic crude oil. Upgrader plants are typically located close to oil sands production, for example, the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta, Canada or the Orinoco tar sands in Venezuela.
Heavy crude oil is highly-viscous oil that cannot easily flow from production wells under normal reservoir conditions.
A petroleum seep is a place where natural liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons escape to the earth's atmosphere and surface, normally under low pressure or flow. Seeps generally occur above either terrestrial or offshore petroleum accumulation structures. The hydrocarbons may escape along geological layers, or across them through fractures and fissures in the rock, or directly from an outcrop of oil-bearing rock.
Naval stores are all liquid products derived from conifers. These materials include rosin, tall oil, pine oil, and terpentine. The term naval stores originally applied to the organic compounds used in building and maintaining wooden sailing ships, a category which includes cordage, mask, turpentine, rosin, pitch and tar.These materials were originally used for water- and weather-proofing wooden ships. Presently, they are used to manufacture soap, paint, varnish, shoe polish, lubricants, linoleum, and roofing materials.
Pyrolysis oil, sometimes also known as bio-crude or bio-oil, is a synthetic fuel under investigation as substitute for petroleum. It is obtained by heating dried biomass without oxygen in a reactor at a temperature of about 500 °C (900 °F) with subsequent cooling. Pyrolysis oil is a kind of tar and normally contains levels of oxygen too high to be considered a pure hydrocarbon. This high oxygen content results in non-volatility, corrosiveness, immiscibility with fossil fuels, thermal instability, and a tendency to polymerize when exposed to air. As such, it is distinctly different from petroleum products. Removing oxygen from bio-oil or nitrogen from algal bio-oil is known as upgrading.
Birch tar or birch pitch is a substance derived from the dry distillation of the bark of the birch tree.
A fuel is any material that can be made to react with other substances so that it releases energy as thermal energy or to be used for work. The concept was originally applied solely to those materials capable of releasing chemical energy but has since also been applied to other sources of heat energy, such as nuclear energy.
Charcoal is a lightweight black carbon residue produced by strongly heating wood in minimal oxygen to remove all water and volatile constituents. In the traditional version of this pyrolysis process, called charcoal burning, often by forming a charcoal kiln, the heat is supplied by burning part of the starting material itself, with a limited supply of oxygen. The material can also be heated in a closed retort. Modern "charcoal" briquettes used for outdoor cooking may contain many other additives, e.g. coal.
Petroleum naphtha is an intermediate hydrocarbon liquid stream derived from the refining of crude oil with CAS-no 64742-48-9. It is most usually desulfurized and then catalytically reformed, which rearranges or restructures the hydrocarbon molecules in the naphtha as well as breaking some of the molecules into smaller molecules to produce a high-octane component of gasoline.
Pyrobitumen is a type of solid, amorphous organic matter. Pyrobitumen is mostly insoluble in carbon disulfide and other organic solvents as a result of molecular cross-linking, which renders previously soluble organic matter insoluble. Not all solid bitumens are pyrobitumens, in that some solid bitumens are soluble in common organic solvents, including CS
2, dichloromethane, and benzene-methanol mixtures.
Luther Atwood was an American chemist. He is known for creating new chemical products from the distillation of coal and petroleum.