Marketing Communications Ink

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40 Little-Known Uses for WD-40 and Other Urban Legends.

Over the years, I have received a variety of questionable info from friends. The other day I received an email containing a list of things most people never knew could be done with WD-40 lubricant. The article goes on to say it is made of completely natural ingredients – fish oil to be exact.

The list  of WD-40 uses included spraying it on cows to keep away flies, wiping down your kids’ backyard slide apparatus to make their travels down the slide faster and more fun, and using it to make the pain of a fire ant’s sting go away.

WD-40 spray lubricant

WD-40 Water Displacing Lubricant, from WD-40 website

Now, I have used WD-40 Multi-Purpose Product for a few of its intended purposes – lubricating locks, hinges and so forth – and if you ever have too, you’ll know it does an excellent job, but leaves behind a distinctive odor, and I doubt was ever intended to be used on skin or clothing. So who, I ask, would actually use the stuff in the way identified in the email? I decided to check it out.

Enter Snopes.com

Thank goodness for www.Snopes.com. For those of you unfamiliar with this handy reference, Snopes researches and reports on the veracity of a wide variety of urban legends, including some very interesting background on how the stories started, where they were reported, why the stories seem to hold our interest, and so on.

The Truth About WD-40

What turns out to be true about WD-40, as reported in the email, is that it was created as a rust preventative solvent and degreaser for missile parts by technicians at the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company. Its name stems from the fact that it was their 40th attempt to create such a compound by “water displacement” – thus WD-40.

The bit about being made from fish oil turns out to be a myth, as do many of the unusual uses cited in the email including all the ones identified above. You can read the complete Snopes article on WD-40 here.

Interestingly, the official WD-40 website, www.WD40.com, says its intended uses include lubricating, penetrating rust, protecting metal against corrosion, removing dust and grime, and displacing moisture in electrical systems, and the site even features a list of over 2000 uses for their product suggested by their fan club. The manufacturer adds the warning that, “The uses …were provided…by end-users of the product, and do not constitute recommendations or suggestions for use of WD-40 by WD-40 Company. These uses have not been tested by WD-40 Company. Consumers should exercise common sense whenever using WD-40. Always follow the instructions and take heed of any warnings printed on the WD-40 packaging.”

Some Interesting Suggestions

Be that as it may, I thought I’d bring you some of the more interesting end-user suggestions, (written exactly as they appeared on WD-40’s website):

Customer-Supplied List of 2000 Uses for WD-40

  • Keeps snow from sticking to shovels
  • Removes tea stains from countertops
  • Prevents mildew growth on fountain
  • Removes ink from blue jeans
  • Cleans doggie doo from tennis shoes
  • Keeps kitty-doo from sticking to electric cat-box rakes
  • Keeps snake and reptile skins pliable in taxidermy
  • Lubricates potato guns
  • Polishes and shines seashells
  • Shines atlas missiles (author’s comment…surely they jest!)
  • Frees stuck hands from narrow bars (stairwells)
  • Lubricates valves on peck horns

The list leads me to wonder exactly what is a potato gun, and who uses it; same for peck horns. Perhaps fodder for a future blog.

In the meantime, you can find a great many other urban legends, conspiracy theories and interesting tidbits reported, and mostly debunked, on Snopes.

The Take-Away Message

So next time someone sends you info too weird, amazing or stupid to be true, try using a bit of critical thinking before blindly forwarding it on. Then check it out on Snopes.com.

WD-40® and the WD-40 logo are trademarks of WD-40 Company. Snopes® is a registered trademark of snopes.com

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2 comments on “40 Little-Known Uses for WD-40 and Other Urban Legends.

  1. Gregory LaMothe
    June 7, 2013

    Suzy, I always enjoy your posts. Original, witty and fun, but always with a good learning point. Thank you. (By the way, I taught my sons how to make a potato gun and oh did we have fun with it. It’s also called a potato cannon. It works!)

    • Suzy Kedzierski
      June 8, 2013

      Hi Gregory, Thanks so much! A true compliment coming from a marketing/sales/consulting pro and blogger, like you! So, tell me about a potato gun… do you shoot just for distance or at targets??? Is this like pumpkin chunking?

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