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How to Remove Tar from Concrete

Concrete flooring, just like any other flooring option, is not exempted from common flooring issues. In fact, concrete with its naturally porous structure—particularly if not properly sealed—makes it prone to stubborn stains. 

Take tar, for example.

Tar is a sticky brown or black substance that is produced by wood, petroleum, and coal through destructive distillation. And unlike the typical food and drink stain, removing tar from concrete is a laborious and time-consuming process. In fact, one will need more than wipes and a dry towel to clean the substance.

But the good thing is that it is definitely possible to remove tar off concrete thanks to tar removing mixtures like muriatic acid, solvents, and commercial solutions specifically formulated for tar.

A Step-by-step Guide to Lifting Tar Off Concrete

Tar has always been acknowledged as an extremely difficult-to-lift type of stain no matter the type of surface. On concrete flooring, however, it is even more demanding than harsh mixtures are necessary to lift it off.

That said, removing tar from concrete is typically done in two methods. The first is through the use of acid solutions and the second is through the use of natural or Prosoco’s formulated solvents

Here’s how:

Method 1: Using an Acid Solution

Acis solutions such as muriatic acid are the common go-to product home and building owners use to remove tar from concrete. It is particularly used when the stained surface is huge or is spread from one area to another. 

However, do take note that acid solutions are harsh and toxic and wearing protective gear—like gloves and goggles—and clothing is crucial. Although you can seek a professional too, especially if you are not familiar with such things. 

Having said that, here’s what you will need:

  • Muriatic acid or commercial acid solution
  • Brush with stiff bristles
  • Plastic scraper
  • A bucket of water
  • Dry towel
  • Protective clothing
  • Rubber gloves, mask, and eye protection

Step 1: Dilute the acid. The first step is to dilute the acid based on the amount of strength that is needed to dissolve tar. These products also usually come with instructions—including the amount of mixture to infuse—that you can use as a guide. 

When diluting, however, keep in mind to pour it into the water and not the other way around to avoid acid splatters. 

Test the strength of the acid by applying a weak diluted solution. Then add more until bubbles start to appear when applied to the affected area. It means that it has already reached the required strength to dissolve the tar. 

Step 2: Apply the solution to the tar-stained area. Next, carefully apply the solution to the -tar-stained surface(s). Spread it slowly to keep the bubble fumes at a moderate level. You will then notice that the tar begins to dissolve gradually. Continue to let the acid sit in further to completely dissolve the substance. 

Step 3: Scrub the tar using a brush with stiff bristles.

Once enough time has passed, start scrubbing off the surface using a brush with stiff bristles. You can use either a small hand-held brush or one with a long handle, whichever you prefer. 

However, if you notice that the tar has not completely dissolved yet, then allow the solution to sit in for a few more minutes. It is important to carefully scrub the area too to avoid acid splatter. 

Step 4: Scrape the remaining stains.

After that, scrape the loosened tar using a plastic scraper. Then wipe it off with a dry towel. Don’t forget to use a disposable towel too, as it would be another laborious challenge to take tar off clothes. 

Once done, rinse the floor off acid using warm or lukewarm water. Do it gradually to avoid acid splatter.

Step 5: Add a sealant. Lastly, give your floor the final touch by finishing it. Simply apply a sealant to the affected surface. It will give your concrete a new and fresh look after all that cleaning. It is extremely important as well to seal your concrete flooring every 8-9 months to help it stay looking new. 

Method 2: Using Solvents

While folks typically use muriatic acid or other acid solutions to remove tar from concrete, some home and building owners also opt for solvents such as kerosene and natural minerals. Diesel, paint thinner, turps, and even xylene can also lift tar off the concrete.

The only downside to using these types of solvents is that they are highly flammable. As such, professionals recommend using it in small tar stains only.

However, if you want to use solvents with less risk, commercially formulated tar removing solutions is a go-to. Prosoco’s SureKlean Asphalt and Tar Remover, for instance, is a safe-to-use multi-purpose masonry cleaner. It does not contain methylene chloride which is harmful to the heart and liver and can cause skin and eye irritation with prolonged exposure.

To use it, simply apply your choice of solvent on the tar-stained surface gradually. The procedure is the same as how you would apply the solution. Just make sure to be extra careful when using solvents as these are riskier to use compared to acid. 

Method 3: Home Remedies

Acid solutions and solvents are often recommended for large and deep-seated tar stains. As such, if the stain is small and has not thoroughly seeped into the concrete, home remedies are a go-to.

  • Vinegar and dishwashing liquid. Vinegar, for example, can help clean and dissolve tar from concrete. Simply mix one tablespoon of vinegar into the water (two cups) together with a dishwashing liquid. Using a sponge, apply the solution to the surface and blot it continuously. Keep blotting it until the sponge has completely absorbed the substance.
  • Peanut butter. Surprisingly, peanut butter can also help. But keep in mind that it is only effective for tar splatters. Use an ordinary butter too, preferably not the crunchy but oily one as oil can lift off fresh tar spill. Just rub a good amount of peanut butter on the affected surface, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a dry towel.
  • Rubbing alcohol. Alcohol can also help remove fresh tar stains. Simply apply the alcohol using cotton. Then rub it gently until the stain is lifted. Be careful not to use too much alcohol as it could saturate your flooring and may cause damage.

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