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How To Remove Tar From Skin?

  • Post category:Skin Care
  • Post last modified:May 22, 2024
  • Reading time:11 mins read

Getting tar on your skin can be a sticky and frustrating situation. Whether you stepped in tar at a construction site, got some on your hands while doing roofing work, or encountered it from another source, acting quickly is key to removing it before it fully dries and becomes more difficult. Here are some proven methods for getting tar off skin effectively.

Identify the Type of Tar

Before attempting to remove tar from your skin, it’s important to identify what type of tar you’re dealing with. There are two main categories:

Coal Tar

Coal tar is a thick, viscous liquid derived as a byproduct of coal processing. It has a strong, unpleasant odor and can cause skin irritation. Coal tar is commonly used in roofing, paving, and other industrial applications.

Pine Tar

Pine tar is made by the destructive distillation of pine wood. It has a thinner consistency than coal tar and a distinct pine scent. Pine tar is found in some skincare products due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Knowing if you have coal tar or pine tar on your skin will help determine the best removal method.

Act Quickly

The longer tar sits on your skin, the harder it will be to remove. As soon as you get tar on yourself, take these immediate steps:

  1. Run cool water over the affected area for 15-20 minutes to rinse off any excess tar and stop it from continuing to spread.
  2. Remove any jewelry, watches or clothing that the tar has gotten on to prevent it from drying and sticking.
  3. If the tar feels hot or burning, seek medical attention as it may have caused burns.

Removal Methods for Fresh Tar

For tar that is still wet and fresh on your skin, these home remedies can be effective:

Butter or Oils

Rub a generous amount of butter, vegetable oil, baby oil, or petroleum jelly over the tarry areas. Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes to help loosen and dissolve the tar, then wipe it away with a cloth or paper towel.

Baking Soda Paste

Make a thick paste by mixing baking soda and water. Gently rub it over the tar stains using a washcloth or soft-bristled brush. The abrasive baking soda will help lift the tar off your skin.

Mayonnaise or Salad Dressing

The oils in mayonnaise and salad dressings can help break down tar. Slather it over the affected areas, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then wipe it away along with the loosened tar.

Dealing With Dried Tar

If the tar has already dried and hardened on your skin, you’ll need to take a different approach:

Freeze It

Place ice cubes or an ice pack over the dried tar for several minutes until it becomes stiff and brittle. Then use a dull knife, spoon or your fingernails to gently scrape and chip away as much of the hardened tar as possible.

Use Solvents

For stubborn dried tar that won’t come off, you may need a solvent like mineral spirits, turpentine or nail polish remover. Apply a small amount to the tar with a cloth and let it dissolve the tar before wiping it away. Use caution as these are harsh chemicals.


Make a paste with sugar or salt and apply it to the tar stains. The abrasive granules will help slough off the tar when you scrub the area. You can also try using a loofah, washcloth or soft-bristled brush along with soap and warm water.

Removing Lingering Stains

Even after using the methods above, you may be left with some tar staining on your skin. Here are some tips for fading those last traces:

  • Use a pumice stone or foot scrubber along with soapy water to gently buff away any remaining discoloration.
  • Make a paste with baking soda and lemon juice and use it as a scrub.
  • Exfoliate regularly with a loofah or dry brushing until the stain fades.

Preventing Further Issues

Once you’ve successfully removed the tar from your skin, be sure to:

  • Thoroughly wash the area with soap and warm water to remove any residue.
  • Moisturize well, as the removal process can dry out skin.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure for a few days, as tar can make skin more sensitive.
  • See a doctor if you experience excessive redness, swelling or irritation that doesn’t subside.

When to Seek Medical Attention

In some cases, it’s best to seek professional medical treatment for tar on the skin:

  • If the tar feels extremely hot or you suspect burns
  • If the targets in your eyes
  • If tar covers a large portion of your body
  • If home remedies aren’t effectively removing the tar
  • If you experience an allergic reaction like rash, hives or breathing difficulties

With some patience and the right techniques, you can successfully get stubborn tar off your skin. But don’t hesitate to see a doctor, especially for extensive tar exposure or if you have any concerns about potential burns or reactions.


To effectively remove tar from skin, several methods can be employed using common household and beauty products. These include soaking the affected area in soapy water and using a pumice stone, applying mayonnaise or cooking oil, using baby oil or suntan oil, and applying commercial solvents or lubricants. Gasoline can also be used but requires careful handling and thorough washing afterward. Other effective agents include mineral oil, butter, and products like “Goof Off” or WD-40. Each method should be followed by immediate washing with soap and water to ensure complete removal and to minimize skin irritation.


What removes tar from the skin?

Tar can be removed from the skin using common household and beauty products. Effective methods include soaking the affected area in soapy water and gently buffing it with a pumice stone, applying mayonnaise or cooking oil to loosen the tar, and using baby oil or suntan oil to break it down. Commercial solvents or lubricants can also be used, and gasoline can be applied with caution.

What home remedy removes tar?

Home remedies for removing tar from the skin include using mayonnaise, cooking oil, baby oil, or suntan oil. These oily substances help to break down and loosen the tar, making it easier to scrub off with a pumice stone or wash away. Additionally, applying ice to harden the tar and then peeling it off can be effective.

How do you remove tar fast?

To remove tar quickly, apply an oily product like baby oil, suntan oil, or cooking oil to the affected area. This helps to break down the tar. Then, use a pumice stone to gently scrub the tar off. For stubborn tar, a commercial solvent or a small amount of gasoline on a soft cloth can be used, followed by thorough washing.

What are the common causes of tar on the skin?

Common causes of tar on the skin include exposure during construction or home repair work, walking on tarred beaches, and accidental contact with tar-based products. Tar is sticky and can adhere to the skin easily, making it difficult to remove without proper methods.

What are the different types of tar and how do they affect skin?

Different types of tar include coal tar and pine tar. Coal tar is used in treating skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema but can cause skin irritation, and photosensitivity, and has carcinogenic properties. Pine tar is used for its soothing and antiseptic properties in treating dermatitis and eczema. Both types can cause skin irritation and other side effects if not used properly.