Change Gears to a Proven Asphalt Emulsion Sealcoat

By Nicole Larsen, Robert Archie

Usually we take a family photo for the cover to bring a little fun to the industry. But this year, we thought Pitch Black® asphalt emulsion sealcoat deserved the spotlight. It’s the first time we’ve shown the concentrate version of Pitch Black® on a cover. We want contractors to see how thick and black true high-quality sealcoat should look when you buy it in concentrated form. Obviously, you add water to it pending climate conditions. “Just add water” is NOT a new concept for sealcoat. But if your manufacturer can’t show you sealcoat like this, you need to change. If they’re overwatering it, you need to change. Our manufacturers love showing Pitch Black® in it’s true form. Whether you’re switching from coal tar or another asphalt emulsion sealcoat, you need to get all the facts and dispel the myths.

What’s the Difference Between Coal Tar Emulsion and Asphalt Emulsion Sealcoat?
First off, “coal tar” is called “coal tar emulsion”. To simplify, if you’re forcing coal tar to mix with water, you’re creating an emulsion as well. But are they the same? Not even close. We’ll break down the differences below.

Demand is Up and Plants are Booking Out
Last year we predicted an asphalt emulsion sealcoat plant might be the next gold mine. This year, it might be one of the only sealcoat plants you can buy. With new sealcoat bans and product shortages, many contractors have already made the switch. Manufacturers have been racing to get asphalt emulsion sealcoat out the door, some booking out weeks or months. But make sure you have all the right info before you transition. Making the switch from coal tar to asphalt emulsion sealcoat may seem complicated or expensive. It’s not, if you get the right one.


You Don’t Need to Buy All New Equipment
Your tanker stays the same. Your spray wands stay the same. Your mix paddles stay the same. You might have to change your filter basket, pump and get larger spray tips. You will need to bring up your pressure to 85 psi or a little higher. Pitch Black® is a viscous material, as all sealcoats should be. Not tack coat and water! But lessening the liability for your crew and company by moving to a non-toxic sealcoat material = PRICELESS. For the most part, you don’t have to change much of your equipment to make the switch.

Application is the Same
Asphalt emulsion sealcoat can be sprayed, squeegeed, brushed, etc. Applying two coats is the industry standard. Period. If you’re doing less, chances are your coal tar jobs weren’t up to par either.

Durability is the Same
The myth that coal tar is stronger than asphalt emulsion sealcoat is just plain bull. Pitch Black® (and other good quality asphalt emulsion sealcoats) are used to slurry city streets, on airports, high-traffic parking lots, schools and climates ranging from 100+ degrees in Arizona to – freezing temps in Alaska. Switching doesn’t mean you lose durability IF you choose the right brand.


Your Drying Times
Asphalt emulsion sealcoat dries fast and the second coat can usually be applied within two hours. It also doesn’t run down the driveway while you’re edging! Line-striping is a breeze. It can usually be done later in the day, after you’ve sealed the asphalt surface. You can also seal over new asphalt much sooner than coal tar, which means you’ll be done with jobs faster, save on crews and get paid faster.

Your Line-Striping Paint Options
You’ll now be able to use oil-based traffic paint, whereas with coal tar, it would have turned brown. In a world of constant shortages lately, this will help expand your options to both water-based and oil-based paint.

Your Cleanup
Asphalt emulsion sealcoat is easy to clean up with non-hazardous chemicals such as Oil Flo, and it leaves no yellow stain! Cleaning up coal tar is a nightmare! It’s very difficult to remove from unwanted surfaces without harsh chemicals and permanent staining.

Your Worries About PAHs Bans & Regulations
Your sealcoat must have less than 1,000 parts per million PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons), to pass government bans and be considered a safe seal coat. Many sealcoats won’t pass that test. Some have as much as 50,000 PAHs, while others still have 16,000 PAHs or more. We just had Pitch Black® tested again, it has 0.00% PAHs. You don’t have to have PAHs to have a great sealcoat.

Your Employees’ and Customers’ Health & Safety
The fumes from coal tar alone are overwhelming and being inhaled into the lungs. Coal tar can burn your skin if left on too long. Getting coal tar off the skin requires dangerous chemicals that can also burn to remove it. Tracking coal tar into homes, schools, daycares, etc. isn’t something you want to worry about.

Your Customer Base
Not only will you be able to take on the same jobs you did before, but imagine pursuing more school districts, more parks, city projects, etc. With an odor-free job that is truly black (doesn’t dry blue), lasts and passes regulations, you’ll grow your customer base faster by marketing your product on quality AND safety.

Your Expectations
For far too long, the industry has been shrouded in secrecy. Let’s lift the veil to help sealcoat contractors see the type of quality and safety they should expect in sealcoat. Pitch Black® will continue to remain transparent with our material. It’s what we do. No toxic chemicals. No bull.

ABOUT PITCH BLACK®: The Archie family got its start in asphalt in the 1920s with Robb Archie’s grandfather, Joe Archie, in Western New York. Archie’s dad, Earl Archie, learned the trade from his dad during the 1940s and 50s and taught it to his son, Robb Archie, who carried that knowledge from the 1960s and 70s to make Pitch Black® in the 1980s. The family secret formula has only been licensed to Pitch Black® manufacturers during the last 17 years, but Pitch Black® has been used for over 40 years. For More Information, please visit or email

ABOUT THE WRITERS: Nicole Larsen has contributed cover articles on behalf of U.S. Seal International, Inc. (Pitch Black®) since 2013. She is also Director of Marketing for U.S. Seal International and founder of marketing agency, Busy Ave, Inc. Robert Archie, inventor of Pitch Black® sealcoat, is also currently president of U.S. Seal International, Inc. and ASMA-USA (Asphalt Sealcoat Manufacturers Association).