Many of us have heard the sage advise:

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.

About a week ago, we had an episode where a few days of warm (for winter), wet/humid weather was followed by an overnight sub-zero plunge. In the morning, the garage door was not moving – the weather seal had frozen to the concrete – it wasn’t particularly icy out, but there was enough moisture between the two surfaces to freeze and trap one of our family cars in the garage. Following the above above advise I sprayed the seal with WD-40 and voila! The door was working as expected.

The kids were naturally curious: what exactly is WD-40?

To this day, per the brand’s website, the formula is a secret. Contrary to a popular myth, it is not made from fish oil. Per their FAQs, it also doesn’t contain silicone, kerosene, water, graphite, or chlorofluorocarbons.

While we may never know what exactly is in WD-40, we can learn about it’s original purpose and other relevant facts from the History page at the WD-40 company website:

  • First, the WD stand for “Water Displacement”
  • Second, the 40 stand for 40th attempt. They got it wrong 39 times before getting it right – according to another legend, Edison could only wish to have been so fortunate when developing his light bulb.
  • It was developed in 1953 by Rocket Chemical Company as a rust preventative solvent and degreaser for the aerospace industry. It’s first use was to protect the skin of the Atlas Missle.
  • It made its first consumer appearance as “WD-40” in 1958 in San Diego.
  • In 1969, Rocket Chemical Company renamed itself after its only product: WD-40.
  • In 1973, WD-40 Company, Inc. went public, and it’s legend continues…

The uses for WD-40 are probably as many as there are people on Earth, maybe more. While I may have been able to use something more efficient to loosen the garage door from the ground, it wouldn’t have been anymore effective, and certainly not as handy as the can of WD-40 always sitting on the garage workbench.

Has WD-40 ever saved the day for you? Do you have a unique use for it? Do you you use it everyday? Have you found a viable alternative? Please share in the comments.