I was today years old when I learned that the “WD” in WD-40 stands for Water Displacement. And “40”? The 40th test for a penetrating oil designed to displace water and thus prevent rust.
“You only need two things in life: Duct Tape and WD-40. If it moves and shouldn’t, use Duct Tape, if it doesn’t move and should, use WD-40.”
The name is “straight out of the lab book used by the chemist who developed the product.”
Norman B. Larsen, Gordon Dawson and John B. Gregory had founded Rocket Chemical Company on 23 September 1953 with the goal of creating “rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry.”
When the 40th formula was tested, the team “got it right in a big way.”
Their first customer: Convair, an aerospace contractor. Convair used WD-40 to protect the Atlas Missile, the first operational Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) developed for the U.S. Air Force, from rust and corrosion. The Atlas had been in development since the end of World War II; Atlas A launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida in June 1957.
According to the company, some Convair “employees snuck cans of WD-40 Multi-Use Product out of the plant in their lunchboxes to use at home.”
Five years after its discovery (trade secret, not patented), WD-40 landed “on store shelves in San Diego, California.” In 1968, it went to Vietnam as part of kits handed out to soldiers.
The WD-40 Company acquired Lava® in 1999. Lava was born in 1893; it’s the heavy-duty hand cleaner that my daddy always used (he was a mechanic). And WD-40 was always in the house, too.
They created a fan club in 2008!
In 2009, the New York Times reported that about 4-in-5 U.S. homes had at least one can of WD-40. The fan club helped develop 2,000 uses for the product.
Family Handyman published 34 “out of the box” ways to use WD-40 back in April. Check it out!
#scitech, #society, #science (246/365)
Daily posts, 2022-2023