How to remove tar from concrete foundation? (5 steps)

This guide will answer the question, “how to remove tar from concrete foundation?” The article will provide options and step-by-step instruction on how you can remove tar in your concrete foundation. Also tips on how you can successfully accomplish the task especially in terms of safety is mentioned in this article.

How to remove tar from concrete foundation?

Tar on the concrete foundation can be the last thing you expect  that will affect the aesthetics of your home. Usually tar can be expected in concrete driveway or asphalt driveway. Nonetheless, you can still stain your concrete foundation typically constructed using hydraulic cement with tar during damp proofing of your concrete foundation. Damp proofing has the same objective as basement waterproofing which is to minimize the adherence and travel of water in your concrete membrane. Typically damp proofing involves using traditional tar or unmodified asphalt as coating.

If ever during damp proofing you stained certain areas you’re not planning to be damp proofed if ever you change your mind you want to remove the tar in your concrete foundation, there are two common solutions that can remove the tar: acid and solvent.

  • Removing tar using acid.

Using acid in removing tar is commonly used when there are a wide range of areas in your concrete in which you want to remove the tar. Take note that before proceeding with any project or problem solving involving chemicals that can be harmful read the labels and direction carefully and wear protective gear. Also, it is better to seek professional help to ensure your safety and success of your project.

What you need:

  • Prepare your protective clothing that can withstand contact with acid.
  • Slip on thick rubber gloves to protect your hands. 
  • Strap in eye protection and mask to protect your eyes and mouth from probable splatter of the chemical.
  • Muriatic acid is the main ingredient for the removal of the tar.
  • Stiff bristled brush to brush off the tar stain.
  • Prepare a bucket of water for washing and safety purposes.
  • Towel to wipe and use as absorbent of the acid mixture to avoid contact.
  • Plastic scraper to scrape persistent tar in the concrete surface.

Step-by-step instruction to remove the tar:

Step 1: Wear your protective gear.

Since you are dealing with acid which can be harsh to your skin and dangerous when it spatters to your eyes and mouth it is a must to wear a protective gear before starting the tar removal. Check and read all the labels of your protective gear making sure that you wear them properly and understand the cautions you have to do while wearing the protective gear. Wear your protective clothing, slip on your gloves, and strap in eye protection to prevent splatter and mask to prevent inhalation of the acid.

Step 2: Dilute the acid as based from the label.

Using the label as your guide on the amount of acid you can use, dilute the acid until the desired strength. Please take note that always acid to the water and never ever add water to acid. Pouring acid carefully to water prevents acid to splatter while diluting.

You can test if the solution is already enough to remove the tar in your concrete flooring and foundation by using first a weaker solution then strengthening it if necessary. When bubbles already are produced when it is applied on tar you already reached the desired acid strength. Avoid going beyond, preparing a stronger solution than this because aside from safety purposes it can already damage your concrete.

Step 3: Cover the tar with acid mixture.

Apply the acid mixture to the tar stain. Make sure to do this gradually since bubbles can be released while applying the acid mixture, you don’t want just suddenly a cloud of fumes released while doing this remedy. Also, it is preferred to work on an open environment to prevent accumulation of dangerous fumes in your working station or if not possible keep your windows and door open

Step 4: Let the acid sit in the tar for about a minute.

Allow the acid solution to dissolve the tar for about a minute. Again, pour first a small amount in the concrete enough to cover the tar and do not pour abruptly.

Step 5: Scrub the tar with a stiff brush.

Scrub the tar poured with acid area using a long-handled cleaning brush with stiff bristles. If you are having a hard time removing the tar, add another coat of acid and allow it to sit once again before scrubbing.

During scrubbing acid may splatter, so make sure you wear your safety eye glasses and masks. If you have a mask , keeping your mouth closed can be an alternative.

Step 6: Scrape the loosened tar.

Using plastic scraper scrape the loosened tat and wipe it off with a towel. You can also use the scraper to wipe off the scrub brush when it becomes too saturated with brushed off tar. Make sure to use a towel that you can just dispose of after use. Repeat scrubbing and scraping until the tar was removed.

Step 7: Rinse with water.

Rinse the scrubbed surface thoroughly with water. Be aware again of acid splatter.

Step 8: Dispose the acid.

As soon as you are done removing the tar in all tea areas you want it to be removed, dispose the acid you used immediately. Follow the acid label directions for proper disposal and cleaning up the areas that used the acid.

Step 9: Add sealant.

To have a good finish to the areas where you removed tar, you can add sealant. This is to maintain the concrete floor or foundation looks new. Apply sealant every 6 to 9 months or when a chemical cleaning such as this tar removal is done. You can also paint your concrete to cover up scratches and cracks done by the stiff brush. Also, clean your concrete with a cleaning solution and a sponge mop frequently.

  • Removing tar using solvents.

Solvents such as mineral spirits and kerosene can also remove tar for small tar stains only. It is not advisable to use solvent to remove tar for large areas because it gives off dangerous fumes and can be fire prone. Other solvents such as diesel, turps, paint thinner and xylene can repair a small stained concrete with tar. 

Apply the solvent gradually to the tarred area as well as using acid but again be extra careful in dealing with this chemical because it can ignite fire.


Removing tar in your concrete foundation seems like an easy job. It just requires preparation of your solution to pour on your tarred concrete and scrubbing and scraping. However, it is important to be aware of the safety requirement in accomplishing the task and the damage these solutions can do to your concrete.

Therefore, always read the label and instructions indicated in your chemical before proceeding to the task.

For any questions and suggestions about this article, please feel free to submit your thoughts in the comment section below.

FAQs: How to remove tar from concrete foundation?

What can dissolve tar?

There are several solvents that can be used to dissolve tar but the commonly used and accessible solvents to dissolve tar are mineral spirits and kerosene. Using a rug, soak either of this solvent and rub it off to the tar remains in your concrete slab. Be careful in doing this task, solvents give off fumes that can be dangerous once inhaled and once it contacts your skin, so wear a respirator and gloves,and work with your windows open. Also, change the rag the moment it becomes saturated and turns black.

Does vinegar remove tar?

Vinegar can remove tar by mixing it with liquid hand dishwashing detergent. Mix one tablespoon of white vinegar and one tablespoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent with two cups of warm water. Using sponge apply the solution to the tar-stained material. Keep on blotting until all the liquid is absorbed then sponge with cold water and blot dry.

Will a pressure washer remove concrete sealer?

Pressure washing can remove water-based sealer. If you originally applied a solvent-based sealer and opted to change it to water-based you have to remove the solvent-based sealer first because the water-based will not adhere to the surface. Remove any signs of peeling and chipping first from the surface before applying the solvent-based stripper like xylene to remove the sealer. Then follow it up with pressure washing to the surface and let it dry.

Does peanut butter remove tar?

Peanut butter can remove tar splatters. Just use ordinary peanut butter and not the crunchy one you will just waste for a good sandwich instead. Rub a glob of peanut butter on the spot of tar splatter and wipe it with an old towel. The oil in the peanut butter is responsible for the removal of the tar so you can also use a peanut oil.

Will rubbing alcohol remove tar?

Rubbing alcohol is another effective solution to remove tar stain. Using a clean white cotton rag gently blot the tar stain with the alcohol. However, you should be cautious in using rubbing alcohol because too much alcohol can saturate and damage your carpet compromising the latex bond.


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