Tar

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Description:
Tar is modified pitch produced primarily from the wood and roots of pine by destructive distillation under pyrolysis. Production and trade in tar was a major contributor in the economies of Northern Europe and Colonial America. Its main use was in preserving wooden vessels against rot. The largest user was the Royal Navy. Demand for tar declined with the advent of iron and steel ships.

Tar-like products can also be produced from other forms of organic matter such as peat. Mineral products resembling tar can be produced from fossil hydrocarbon including petroleum. Coal tar is produced from coal as a byproduct of coke production. Bitumen is a term used for natural deposits of oil "tar" - such as at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Production

In Northern Europe, the word "tar" refers primarily to a substance that is derived from the wood and roots of pine. In earlier times it was often used as a water repellent coating for boats, ships, and roofs. It is still used as an additive in the flavoring of candy, alcohol and other foods. Wood tar is microbicidal and has a pleasant odor — a sweet musky scent much like that of barbecue. Producing tar from wood was known in ancient Greece, and has probably been used in Scandinavia since the Iron Age. 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. Production nearly stopped in...
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