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                                                             on Gopher (inofficial)
   URI Visit Hacker News on the Web
       
       
       COMMENT PAGE FOR:
   URI   The History of WD-40
       
       
        unethical_ban wrote 2 days ago:
        Anecdote: Once, driving across this great state of Texas to get to
        college, the tensioner pulley on my truck started sounding a little
        noisy. I was with some friends and we wanted to get to school rather
        than wrench around, so I pulled over in the next town and bought a can
        of WD-40 and a spare pulley. I sprayed a bunch of WD-40 into the pully
        bearings, since WD-40 is a lubricant, and I hoped for the best.
        
        The pulley seized about 200 miles later. Burning rubber smell from the
        engine; loss of power steering, the whole nine yards. I pull over and
        get out the toolkit to take off the pulley. I had to use a breaker bar,
        but I finally got the danged bolt to start moving.
        
        Turns out, the bolt was reverse threaded. The whole tensioner needed
        replacing now. I called a tow truck.
        
        Don't use WD-40 as a lubricant. Also, don't slap quick fixes on
        critical  components if you could take ten minutes to do it correctly.
       
        dugditches wrote 2 days ago:
        Lot of talk about bicycle chains, not sure if they use o/x-ring chains.
        But here's a well put together video on chain lubrication. [1] There
        better stuff, sure. I use better stuff now but all the miles I got
        outta on dirtbike & bicycle chains as a kid. Handy to carry a little
        bottle in a toolkit as well.
        
        Also excellent lube when working with aluminum(drilling, machining,
        etc).
        
   URI  [1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnPYdcbcAe0
       
        AlgorithmicTime wrote 2 days ago:
        Don't use WD-40 on your guns. It leaves a shellac-ish residue when it
        dries, which is bad for them. I use Ballistol instead.
       
        bambax wrote 2 days ago:
        Engineering cheat sheet:
        
            Does it move?
            Yes
              -> Should it?
            -> Yes: no problem
            -> No: gaffer tape
            No
              -> Should it?
            -> No: no problem
            -> Yes: WD-40
       
        dghughes wrote 2 days ago:
        I bet almost nobody shakes the can before they use WD-40. It works much
        better and by that I mean the liquid works better after shaking the can
        first versus not shaking it.
       
          codingdave wrote 2 days ago:
          Why do you think nobody shakes it? It is clearly written - in all
          caps - in the instructions on the cans. Everyone I know shakes it
          first.
       
            xtiansimon wrote 2 days ago:
            Funny conversation. Thinking about this the other day.
            
            WD-40 doesn’t have a ‘pea’ [*], so I sometimes find myself
            shaking the can—because I shake all aerosol cans by habit—and
            find myself wondering if it’s necessary.
            
   URI      [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerosol_paint
       
        thrower123 wrote 2 days ago:
        As a penetrating oil, I much prefer PB Blaster
       
          officeplant wrote 2 days ago:
          PB Blaster then white lithium grease was the only thing that got the
          hood/trunk latches on my ancient 1990 Civic working properly again. 
          Also PB blaster on stubborn bolts in high heat areas.
       
        swgn wrote 2 days ago:
        My favourite WD-40 anecdote is how it saved a maiden win for the
        McLaren F1 at Le Mans in 1995
        
   URI  [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995_24_Hours_of_Le_Mans
       
        praptak wrote 2 days ago:
        Any of you noticed when they started adding menthol to WD-40? I hate
        the minty smell, am I the only one?
       
        giuliomagnifico wrote 2 days ago:
        Interesting read thanks! But I find the Weldtite TF2 with Teflon way
        superior than the WD-40 (as a cyclist).
       
          Bayart wrote 2 days ago:
          Teflon is the material of the gods.
       
            rocqua wrote 2 days ago:
            It does come with a rather insidious PFAS problem. That problem
            doesn't have a solution.
       
              giuliomagnifico wrote 2 days ago:
              Yes it’s a problem but it’s very useful. Do you know of the
              WD40 has a lower environmental impact?
       
                rocqua wrote 1 day ago:
                I guess WD-40 uses fluor-carbons. These wreck the ozone layer.
                
                However, the damage from fluor-carbons solves itself. The
                damage from PFAS is effectively eternal. So it depends on how
                much you value current damage vs future damage.
       
        aplh wrote 2 days ago:
        Please consider using Ballistol instead. It’s much more
        environmentally friendly, you can even use it for pet grooming.
       
          lqet wrote 2 days ago:
          Interestingly, Ballistol was originally also used as a disinfectant
          in the Germany army.
       
            fho wrote 2 days ago:
            I am pretty sure that it once was advertised as being usable as
            salad seasoning, but apparently that use case has dropped of the
            list at some point?
       
              lqet wrote 2 days ago:
              That was an April fools' day joke by the company that
              manufactures it [0]
              
   URI        [1]: https://www.facebook.com/ballistol/photos/ballistol-hat-...
       
          sul_tasto wrote 2 days ago:
          Alas, I was unable to find an aerosol can of Ballistol with the straw
          for focused spraying.
       
          refurb wrote 2 days ago:
          Why is it more environmentally friendly?  Both are mostly long-chain
          hydrocarbons, WD40 uses CO2 as a propellant and Ballistol uses
          propane/butane.
       
          dmos62 wrote 2 days ago:
          What are Ballistol's properties? I've not heard of it before.
       
            jcynix wrote 2 days ago:
            Ballistol is an oil of pharmaceutical quality, cf.
            
   URI      [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistol
       
              amelius wrote 2 days ago:
              Only one ingredient is of pharmaceutical quality.
       
        an1sotropy wrote 2 days ago:
        Fran Blanche has a nice little video about WD-40 that goes into more
        details about the particular design choices in the Atlas ICBM engine,
        specifically how a non-insulated soda-can type tank would build up an
        ice layer, and WD-40 helped that ice layer be shed quickly.
        
   URI  [1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTD_SBudQfY
       
        ncmncm wrote 2 days ago:
        I know! We'll sell kerosene with perfume in a spray can, at a 100x
        markup!
        
        Already done.
       
        devwastaken wrote 2 days ago:
        WD 40 is probably one of the most widely misused products out there. It
        is not a good lubricant, it will dry out too fast. Instead you want an
        actual oil or other based lubricant.
       
          solohan wrote 2 days ago:
          I use WD-40 for my bike chain specifically because it's not an oil
          and because it dries out fast. This helps prevent gunk build up and
          makes cleaning the drive train a lot easier. I clean and reapply
          after/before every ride.
          
          Will consider switching to a more environmentally friendly
          alternative though after reading this thread.
       
          usrusr wrote 2 days ago:
          Worse yet, at some point the manufacturer has rebranded as "WD-40
          Company" and started to also sell actual lubricants under that brand
          name. So whenever someone says "don't use WD-40 as a lube" some
          person will show up objecting "I use some WD-40 lubes and they are
          fine, thank you very much"
       
          amelius wrote 2 days ago:
          > It is not a good lubricant, it will dry out too fast.
          
          Yeah, that's why it is so good: people will come back for more ;)
       
          XorNot wrote 2 days ago:
          The real problem is technically it's a mild degreaser. I suspect the
          mistaken use as a lubricant is because it'll dislodge rust which
          "unsticks" things, but once it dries out what you need to do is put a
          light machine oil on the part to keep it sliding (I use one of those
          3-in-1 deals you find in hardware stores in small bottles).
       
            jacquesm wrote 2 days ago:
            Nothing quite like sewing machine oil.
       
              throwaway0a5e wrote 2 days ago:
              #0 grease
       
          DeathArrow wrote 2 days ago:
          I use silicon spray as lubricant.
       
          dzhiurgis wrote 2 days ago:
          I’ve recently discovered aerosol silicon which I’ve emptied the
          can in a week lubricating everything around the house - drawers,
          toilet seat, shower door, window hinges, sliding doors to the deck.
          Then there’s tons of stuff in the car - door handles, hinges,
          rubber seals.
       
            bipson wrote 2 days ago:
            We had handymen spraying silicone spray all over our (wooden) floor
            and furniture, because "it helps sliding in the rubber seal" on the
            doors and windows... "it might be a little slippery, but it will go
            away in the next days - and don't worry, we take care that nothing
            spills".
            
            It was everywhere after my MIL wiped the whole house down. That
            spray was strictly not approved for indoor use, and it did not go
            away ever. My mother finally found a cleaning product that seemed
            to help, but this was a huge PITA for months and we were so mad. We
            thought about redoing all wooden floors for ~7k € (in a rented
            place after all).
            
            I was also angry at me, because I know that several larger
            production facilities have strictly banned silicone based products
            from their premises, because it will contaminate everything it
            touches (and everything that thing touches) for the further
            production steps, e.g. painting. You will never ever get that
            product off these surfaces again, and it will continue to
            contaminate until you throw everything in the bin.
            
            All the professionals we talked to were convinced that they know no
            way to get rid of silicone on surfaces (especially indoors in
            living quarters with small kids present), and sanding the floor
            down would probably just spread it - cross-contaminating the
            surfaces again.
            
            There are uses for silicone spray (bicycle maintenance, outdoors,
            cars, etc.), and I would have one at home for these cases - but
            that whole product line is strictly forbidden at our home forever.
       
            jacquesm wrote 2 days ago:
            Until you need to remove it, which needs a special application.
       
            idd-nl wrote 2 days ago:
            Please be careful using silicone oil near things you want to paint
            later on: everywhere there is a trace of the silicone oil, even
            years later, you will get "fish eyes" in the new paint. This is the
            reason I've banned it from my house, the overspray will get on
            literally everything and it's difficult to prevent and remove.
            
            Silicone will make plastic on the outside of your car appear like
            new again but the effect is short-lived, like two weeks, and
            there'll be a period after that where it looks blotchy. Door
            rubbers are OK with silicone but I've used vaseline to similar
            effect.
       
          cmrdporcupine wrote 2 days ago:
          I use it to clean, and then I use a lubricant after.
       
          lookalike74 wrote 2 days ago:
          Yep, it's a solvent more than it is a lubricant.
       
          systemvoltage wrote 2 days ago:
          What is it for if not for lubricating things? I've asked this
          question to many people and they never had a good response. Most
          people secretely just use it as a shitty lubricant.
       
            nh2 wrote 2 days ago:
            > I've asked this question to many people and they never had a good
            response.
            
            One might suggest:
            
            A) Reading what it says on the tin can what it is for
            
            B) Consulting its Wikipedia page, which states in the first
            sentence that it is a [1] , and that article further explains what
            those are good at, and what not.
            
   URI      [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penetrating_oil
       
            xtiansimon wrote 2 days ago:
            As the article states in the first paragraphs—nudge, nudge—WD
            stands for ‘water displacement’ and was formulated in the
            aeronautics industry for the prevention of rust.
            
            I use it to winterize my motorcycle in winter months giving the
            metal parts a thin film of WD-40 (being careful to avoid the brake
            calipers and rotor).
       
            dale_glass wrote 2 days ago:
            It's a solvent and a penetrating oil. It works for cleaning,
            getting something unstuck, or making sure something has no water on
            it (the "WD" is for "Water Displacement"). But it evaporates
            quickly and that's not good for anything you want to stay
            lubricated. It's okay for getting a rusty bolt moving because it's
            thin and easily gets where something thicker would not. It's not
            suitable for machinery that needs oil permanently on it. Also not
            good for locks, since it tends to gum them up.
            
            In general if you need to lubricate anything important, you should
            look into what the official documents recommend. The right
            lubricant varies a lot depending on the application. Some stuff
            uses thin oils. Some uses sticky oils. Some wants grease. The right
            thing to use depends on things like manufacturing tolerances, the
            presence of oiling systems and the operating environment, so best
            to just check the manual.
       
              acd10j wrote 2 days ago:
              I have used WD40 plenty of times to clean and lubricant rusty
              locks, in my opinion it works better then most other lubricants
              out there. And No my lock did not had manual about right
              lubricant.
       
                rtikulit wrote 2 days ago:
                Many years ago I tried Super Lube® Multi-Purpose Synthetic
                Lubricant for locks exposed to weather 24x7, including one that
                spends 3 months a year buried in snow, and it is far superior
                to WD-40, as in multiple years of smooth operation without
                further maintenance. I might clean a lock with WD-40, but i am
                always going to lubricate outdoor locks with Super Lube. I have
                no idea if it works so well because of the base oils or the
                teflon additive or the combination, but it is really good
                stuff. This summer I used it to rehab my rusted grindy 38 year
                old Swing-A-Way can opener, which is now butter smooth, and to
                fix a seized outdoor A/C condenser fan. For both I had no
                direct access to the bearings and had to flood Super Lube down
                the shafts. Worked amazingly well.
       
                skeeter2020 wrote 2 days ago:
                you're using it to help break a stiff or rusty lock, but it's
                not lubricating anything.
       
            hyperman1 wrote 2 days ago:
            AFAIK, It's what you use before lubricating things, if the thing in
            question has not seen a lubricant in a long time.  Once the movable
            parts are moving again, other lubricants are better.
       
            Nursie wrote 2 days ago:
            It's pretty good to start things moving, IMHO. Bit of WD40 at first
            then apply a proper lubricating oil.
            
            I've also used it on bike chains, to clean off a lot of the old
            nasty before reapplication of a purpose-created lube.
       
            ggm wrote 2 days ago:
            It's not bad at cleaning kitchen grease off range hoods if you've
            got stainless steel. And you get a great "manly" scent.
            
            I used to use it as a carburettor aide for rarely used lawnmowers
            to kick start them into life but this is probably bad for the
            engine. There are real products for this.
            
            Penetrative oil for mildly rusted on screws and bolts.
            
            And.. a really bad chain lube, or hinge de-squeeler. Basically
            these things deserve proper lube molybdenum/disulphide stuff.
            You're depending on the graphite (I think) in wd40 to do the job
            before the solvent strips all the real lube out.
       
              dmos62 wrote 2 days ago:
              You made me laugh with the manly scent part.
       
                ggm wrote 2 days ago:
                As a kid, I thought washing my hands with "swarfega" is what
                grown ups just did. I truly do have very happy memories of the
                smell. And clean hot machine oil and electronics has a fine
                scent all of its own.
       
            gattilorenz wrote 2 days ago:
            Water and humidity displacer, and a penetrating oil to help unlock
            rusted/stuck nuts and bolts.
            
            Especially the second thing depends I guess on capillary
            properties, which other lubricants (e.g. silicon oil) don't
            necessarily have?
       
          stinos wrote 2 days ago:
          It's the typcial 'one-stop for everything' problem: it's not bad and
          even pretty good in some things it does, but for each of its uses one
          can probably find a dedicated better product. Something which makes
          no sense for a typical household though, hence the popularity.
          
          Wrt lubricating properties: there's numerous threads of cyclists
          going all religious over this. One side just saying "it's not (or a
          poor) a lubricant" and the other side mechanics claiming "for my
          customers I use expensive fancy lubricants but for myself I only use
          WD-40 and my chain is cleaner and runs smoother". Because of the
          amount of testimonies like that I got curious and tried it and it
          undeniably has something going for it: no, it's not a pure lubricant,
          but that doesn't mean it cannot work at all on bicycle chains.
          Because of the penetrating/cleaning/anti-rust properties combined it
          has the tendency to give a super clean chain with not a lot of dirt
          in it (unlike any other pure lubricant since those just attract and
          accumulate dirt). And just enough lubricating properties to get some
          mileage out of it (don't remember, 200km or so), as long as it
          doesn't rain.
       
            twic wrote 2 days ago:
            > Because of the penetrating/cleaning/anti-rust properties combined
            it has the tendency to give a super clean chain with not a lot of
            dirt in it (unlike any other pure lubricant since those just
            attract and accumulate dirt). And just enough lubricating
            properties to get some mileage out of it (don't remember, 200km or
            so), as long as it doesn't rain.
            
            This is basically the theory behind Rock'n'Roll's lubes [1] (and
            perhaps other dry lubes, i don't know):
            
            > Rock'N'Roll chain lubes are formulated to clean and lube at the
            same time when applied. EXTREME, ABSOLUTE DRY and GOLD go deep down
            into the links, trapping dirt and floating it to the surface where
            you can wipe it off. Rock'N'Roll chain lubes create a protective
            membrane that keeps new dirt out and the lube inside, where it's
            needed.
            
            So you douse the chain with it, run it round to work it in, then
            wipe off as much as you can - the stuff you wipe off carries away
            loads of filth, and the bit that stays behind dries to leave a
            wax/teflon layer on the working surfaces of the links. Or
            something. Whatever it does, it seems to work pretty well!
            
   URI      [1]: https://rocklube.eu/en/12-chain-lubes
       
            KennyBlanken wrote 2 days ago:
            > It's the typcial 'one-stop for everything' problem: it's not bad
            a
            
            It absolutely is bad. It's mineral oil with a few random additives
            thrown in. [1] Popular Mechanics tested WD-40 in five popular uses
            and found it to be the worst choice in every case. [2] > Wrt
            lubricating properties: there's numerous threads of cyclists going
            all religious over this.
            
            The cycling community overwhelmingly has been telling generations
            of newbie cyclists to stop hosing down their chains with wd40 and
            use a proper oil. There are a few people who swear by it, but
            they're people who have never tried anything else, or not actually
            looked at their chain wear.
            
            > Because of the penetrating/cleaning/anti-rust properties combined
            it has the tendency to give a super clean chain with not a lot of
            dirt in it
            
            WD-40 does not have any special penetrating abilities. Further, the
            gaps in a bike chain between the various parts are not so small
            that one needs a penetrating lubricant.
            
            What is important is wear, not how clean the chain looks. Wear
            happens on the pins, inside rollers, and the holes on the chain
            plates. The chain lengthening means wear on the sprockets, which
            are significantly more expensive than the chain. A 10-speed chain
            is maybe $50 at most for a pretty nice one, and chainrings plus
            cassette can be significantly more than that.
            
            The proper chain lube to use depends on the intended conditions,
            but any lubricant needs to have sufficient film strength - ie keep
            metal from directly contacting metal.
            
            WD-40 has virtually zero film strength. There are a thousand
            lubricants out there that are better.
            
            >  (unlike any other pure lubricant since those just attract and
            accumulate dirt).
            
            I'm not sure what "pure lubricant" means, but there are plenty of
            dry lubricants suitable for chain use. They are designed for dry
            conditions, especially dusty ones.
            
            Riding in wet conditions usually means you're using a fairly thick
            chain lubricant.
            
            Periodically measure the chain with a ruler to check for chain
            stretch and replace before wear gets too high that it starts
            destroying your cogs.
            
            Editing to add:
            
            If you want to use a wet lubricant for chains, bar and chain oil
            (ie chainsaw oil) will work just fine.
            
            If you want a dry lubricant for chains, use something like Finish
            Line PTFE. Dupont themselves also sell a PTFE spray, as do several
            other companies.
            
            If you want a crazy penetrating lubricant, McLube's Sailkoat is
            pretty crazy stuff, but a large spray can is $20+.
            
            If you want rust prevention/protection, LPS-3.
            
            If you need a penetrant or rust breaker for bolts, you can try the
            following: Mouse Milk ($$$), Kroil. Mouse Milk is weird stuff, I
            believe mostly d-limolene (so don't use it near waterways!) but
            apparently popular for lubricating very high temperature stuff
            (turbo wastegates, for example) because it does not leave
            ash/residue behind.
            
   URI      [1]: https://www.wired.com/2009/04/st-whatsinside-6/
   URI      [2]: https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/a6064/wd-40-v...
       
              stinos wrote 2 days ago:
              It absolutely is bad. It's mineral oil with a few random
              additives thrown in
              
              Please quote properly: I said it's not bad at what it does and
              'not bad' does not mean good. Also: if the metric of what's
              inside is what we'd be using, most of the other products you
              mention would also be pretty bad :)
              
              For the rest, same as my other reply: I'm sorry if I gave the
              impression that I somehow agree it's in general a good idea to
              use WD-40 as chain lube. I still do not, and I don't use it
              myself as such because the other dedicated options are better.
              But thanks for listing a bunch of them.
       
            laputan_machine wrote 2 days ago:
            I wouldn't trust a bike mechanic that uses WD-40 as a chain
            lubricant. The only possible scenario I can think of is if they
            live in an extremely dry place with minimal chance of rust. I live
            in the UK, if you use WD-40 as a lubricant your chain will be rusty
            by the end of the week. Use an oil lube (e.g. I use Finish Line
            Wet).
            
            Edit: And it's not "going all religious", it's because I do 6,000km
            on my bike every year. I know through my own mistakes that WD-40 is
            not a good chain lube.
       
              VVertigo wrote 2 days ago:
              I do use it on shift cables and derailleur mechanisms. Mostly
              because I haven't figured out anything that is a better solution.
       
              stinos wrote 2 days ago:
              Just to clarify: I agree that it's not a very good chain lube in
              general (and I don't use it myself anymore after having tested
              it), but I'm also not going to distrust people applying it as
              such because depending on the situation it is actually usable.
              Also see sibling comment.
       
              beefield wrote 2 days ago:
              I know an (e)bike rental operation that uses wd40 almost
              exclusively as chain "lube". Their current ebikes have something
              like 4-5k on the odo, powertrains still the original ones. But
              they clean/apply the wd40 to the chain between every rental, I
              guess that makes a difference. So my guess is that if you use
              wd40 often enough, it is fine.
       
                skeeter2020 wrote 2 days ago:
                WD-40 IS good for cleaning chains and other parts of the
                drivetrain but not great as a lube. My guess is the convenience
                of a quick spray and turn of the pedals, then back out to rent
                outweighs what a bike mechanic would do for their own ride.
       
                KennyBlanken wrote 2 days ago:
                WD-40 does not have sufficient film strength. Constantly
                renewing it won't fix that.
                
                It likely works for that e-bike rental operation because
                there's almost zero load on the chain; tourists renting e-bikes
                are soft-pedaling and letting the hub motors do all the work.
                
                My guess is that WD-40 is being used just to keep the chains
                clean so tourists don't complain about greasy marks on their
                legs...or because they see the sparkling chain and think the
                bikes are "well maintained." Being so light, it would also be
                easy to wipe off various parts of the bike, again helping it
                look "well maintained."
       
                  beefield wrote 2 days ago:
                  Center motor, so if anything, the load is higher on the chain
                  than normal bikes.
                  
                  I am not sure how much more than 5k you can realistically
                  expect for a lifetime for an ebike drivetrain regardless how
                  you maintain it. You need to clean the bike anyway between
                  the customers. If a quick wipe with wd40 gives you 5k, I am
                  not sure if the extra miles on the drivetrain justify the
                  extra work and extra cost of a fancier maintenance.
       
                  wbl wrote 2 days ago:
                  A belt would solve those problems or a chain guard.
       
                cjrp wrote 2 days ago:
                Are you sure it's WD40 and not WD40-branded chain lube? I use
                that on my motorbike, and it's nothing to do with the WD40
                spray - just the same parent company.
       
       
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