Coal tar pitch

Did my first tearoff of this gunk yesterday. How long till the eye burning subsides? and what are the tips to avoid this next time?

Depending on the age and degradation of the tar, you should be fine in a few days.

There’s no escaping the burn unless you don’t tear them off or install them.

Once encountered, you will never forget the smell of pitch.
First experience was tossing the roof cutter squares from the cart off the roof to the dumpster. Wind was blowing the dust back up at me all day. Got burned real bad, face was red and puffy and eyes almost swelled shut.

There is a pitch cream you can apply to your skin before you start your tear off. Supposed to seal your pores I guess. Never helped much and the dust just seemed to stick to it. You could always were goggles to keep the dust out of your eyes. Then you’d get goggle marks where they rubbed it in to your face. Foggy too.

Try to avoid the dust is my only advice


Pitch rip & replace I specialize in. Get a good pair of dirtbike or ski goggles, never rub your eyes, & lots of beer like rooferj said. Im pretty dark, black irish so it really dont bother me. If your fair skinned or light skinned you better cover up. Remember to charge more for these jobs too, everyone else does too because nobody wants to do them.

We have a winner!

Yes, the only true cure for pitch-burn is . . . alcohol! Yep, after a few beers the burn will subside enough for you to go to sleep.

Okay, here are some tips for you from an old-time pitch roofer:

  1. Don’t hover over the kettle, and stay out of the smoke as much as possible. You were tearing off, so this does not apply to you. But if you are the kettle man or the mop-man, avoiding the smoke can be interesting at times. I remember graveling the Nissan Truck Plant with CTP and slag, and when I’d stop running the chain mop I’d duck so the trail of smoke would blow over me. Of course, I couldn’t help but get a breath or two of the lingering smoke. Blah!

  2. During tear-offs keep the dust down to a minimum. Don’t touch your face with your hands. Use a clean, cold, wet, rag to wipe your face if you have to, and I suggest blotting. You can go to extremes and wear a pillow case or similar over your head with the eyes cut out, but I never could handle doing that. Didn’t care for pitch-cream or vaseline or anything else that would potentially make the dust stick to my skin.

  3. Remember, the sun and heat will activate the pitch, so you usually won’t know you are getting burned until around mid-morning. It will first feel like a light mist is hitting you, a tingling feeling; the burning comes shortly thereafter.

  4. If you are tearing off stone aggregate in a pitch flood coat, try misting the roof down as you tear-off and/or start very, very early in the morning.

  5. Once you are burned, you know, under the eyes, beneath the nose, and around your neck, aloe will help just a little, but not much. But whatever you do, and this is very important, DO NOT USE ANYTHING THAT CONTAINS ALCOHOL OR PERFUME/SCENT, as that usually will make the burning worse. Drink alcohol, yes. Apply alcohol based product on pitch-burned skin, NO!

Of course, a nice cold shower when you get home helps too.

My favorite part about pitch-burn was the drive home. When it was bad, I can remember my eyes burned when opened, and stung when closed! :roll: It always made the drive home very interesting.

Good Luck!

when we run into a nasty pitch rip we request to do our tear-off process at night. previous experience with owners, towns and gov. projects is that they are skeptical at first until the first customer, student or employee smells or has thier skin affected by the pitch and they shut you down for the day. although a night rip may sound like an inconvenience to some, it vastly improves production and saves your men thier layers of skin. little to no manpower dropoffs for the next night. we have had some cases where you would have never known you were ripping ctp except for the smell.
if this is not an option for you, apply heavy doses of aloe lotion to your face over night to heal and invest in a pitch mask i find them to work the best. they can be found at some roofing equiptment suppliers.

Sorry, but all I can picture is KKK.

I remeber driving home in a company truck years ago with my head out the freekin window. :o

I have been so burned that when on a golf outing for the company’s largest client, the president of the client corporation’s wife kept buying me drinks and asking is I was ok cuz I looked like I needed a doctor.

Looked like an alligator, and had to explain that I was just fine, and I will gladly take that drink.

Ahhh the good old days…

Slice a potato in half placing the raw ends over your eyes for up to an hour. It seems to draw the CTPV from your pours.

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Shangle Nailer, What are you doing ripping pitch?! That’s a way different animal for you shingle guys! Constantly mist the roof with a garden hose, wear ski goggles, don’t rub your eyes, douche them out a lot with Visine, stay in the dark tonight & drink a lot of Bud! Ripping it all morning & then putting it back all afternoon is great! The haze of green smoke. Reminds me of Boca Chica Navel/Air Station & Homestead Air Force Base in '92 after Hurricane Andrew & The Navy Seal Base on Panama City Beach after Hurricane Irin & Opal in '96. Atleast it was all Federal prevailing wage! There’s not a lot of coal tar pitch roofs left. Too expensive for the materials these days. Everything’s going single ply. Once in awhile I’ll get one under a E.P.D.M. roof.

As TheTinMan024 said with the potato, it works quite well, it doesnt burn my skin so not sure what to tell you about the skin aspect of it, aloe lotions would work well i assume, just make sure its just plain aloe with no chemecals. Drink you plenty of beer too thats by far the most used and by far my most favorite.

Do I put whit my eyes closed or open the potatoe