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The importance of WD-40

WD-40 was created in 1953 by three technicians at the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company. The product began from a search for a rust preventative solvent and de-greaser to protect missile parts. It’s name comes from the project that was to find a “water displacement” compound. They were successful with the 40th formulation, thus WD-40.

The Convair company bought it in bulk to protect their Atlas Missile parts. The workers were so pleased with the product, they began smuggling (also known as shrinkage or stealing) it out to use at home. The executives decided there might be a consumer market for it and put it in aerosol cans. The rest is history.

It is a carefully guarded recipe known only to four people. Only one of them is the “brew master.” There are 2.5 million-plus gallons of the stuff manufactured each year. It gets it’s distinctive smell from a fragrance that is added to the brew. There is nothing in the formula that would hurt you.

Here are some uses:

• Protects silver from tarnishing.
• Gets oil spots off concrete driveways.
• Keeps flies off cows.
• Removes lipstick stains.
• Removes stains from stainless steel sinks.
• Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill.
• Keeps glass shower doors free from water spots.
• Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors.
• Gives a children’s play gym slide a shine for a super fast slide.
• Spraying an umbrellas stem makes it easier to open and close.
• Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.
• Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
• Removes splattered grease on stoves.
• Keeps bathroom mirrors from fogging.
• Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
• Removes all traces of duct tape.

Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than­ 20 years and is an advanced Master Gardener.

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