The Interesting History Behind WD-40
There probably isn't one home that doesn't contain a can of WD-40. The origins though of the wonder product may not be well known and its history is fascinating.
I think one thing I picked up from my Dad was my love of history. I love history of all kinds and so it would go that one of my favorite shows is "Mysteries at the Museum." I've watched the show for years and have seen most episodes, but never the piece on WD-40.
It's a very interesting story and you may already know how it came to be, if not, read on.
The product, like many (Silly Putty being in the same category) was an accident when you come right down to it, and it all started with the Cold War back in 1953.
A small company by the name of the Rocket Chemical Company was contracted to try and come up with a product they could use on the Atlas Missile to keep it from rusting. The Atlas Missile was our answer to the first long range missile that could be launched and fly thousands of miles (over Russia) without having to launch from a much shorter distance which would require a plane flying in the actual business end of an atomic bomb.
The issue though was corrosion at higher altitudes where water was present and then heat when firing the rocket so Convair, who was an aerospace contractor with NASA, needed something to displace the water so rust wouldn't form.
The Rocket Chemical Company was the brain child of Norm Larsen who had two employees based out of San Diego, California. The trio tried and tried and tried and while on the verge of giving up, finally came across the right combination.
After seeking permission from NASA and Convair, the small company was allowed to market the product themselves and decided to call it WD for "water displacement" and then added "40" because it was on their 40th attempt they found that right combination of chemicals. The one stipulation was that they were to never disclose the exact recipe of WD-40, hence it has no patent on it or all ingredients would have to be listed.
By 1969, the only product ever developed by the Rocket Chemical Company was WD-40 so they officially changed their name and the rest is history.
As the old saying goes..."If it moves and shouldn't, use duct tape and if it doesn't move and should, use WD-40."