WD-40 – The Name Explained

The other day I picked up a can of WD-40, and I got to thinking. I know WD stands for “water displacement,” but what does the 40 stand for? This started to play on my mind so I had to find out. Thanks to this new-fangled thing, call the internet and Google it was not long before I had my answer.

In 1953, a small company called the Rocket Chemical Company was trying to come up with a rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry. After 39 failed attempts the hit pay dirt on the 40th attempt. WD-40 was used by Convair on the outer skin of the Atlas Missiles to protect them from rust and corrosion.

A few years later in 1958 company founder Norm Larsen experimented with putting WD-40 into spray cans, thinking  that consumers might find a use for the product at home as some of the employees had. The product made its first appearance on store shelves in San Diego. In 1969, the company was renamed after its one and only product. What started out as the Rocket Chemical Company is now known as WD-40 Company, Inc. With about 1 million cans of WD-40 are sold each week I think it is safe to say WD-40 will be around for years to come.



  1. I remember watching a TV show on discovery or one of those channels years ago about WD-40 but I have forgot why it was called WD-40 now I know.TIA

  2. Great on on the write up Carroll!! We’ve also used wd-40 to clean up my uncles grave stone and it comes out pretty nice. T.I.A!!!!

  3. cool stuff.. its amazing that a product can be relevant for 62 years and still be selling so strong! 1 million cans a week!! thats crazy!

  4. its actually really crazy, give that are much better products out there. but everyone knows and trusts WD-40.

  5. Dont forget nowadays they have much more than good ole WD-40 under the WD-40 umbrella as far as types of things offered,their WD-40 specialist line is pretty awesome.


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