Is WD40 biodegradable? (5 advantages of recycling WD40 cans) 

This article covers some important topics regarding the sustainability and environmental impact of WD40 and addresses the following questions:

  • Is WD 40 biodegradable?
  • Are the ingredients of WD40 dangerous for human health?
  • What are the impacts of WD on the environment?
  • Is the packaging of WD40 biodegradable or recyclable? 
  • What are the greener alternatives to WD40?
  • What are the applications of WD40?
  • Is the production of WD40 sustainable?
  • FAQs

Is WD40 biodegradable?

WD40 is regarded as biodegradable because all the ingredients used in making WD40 are biodegradable. Aliphatic hydrocarbons are known to be easily biodegradable due to weak bonding between carbonates. Petroleum-based oils are also known to be inherently biodegradable hence the ingredients used to make WD40 are biodegradable.

WD40 is an essential product that has many beneficial applications and is biodegradable. It must be handled as with all aerosol products so that its harmful effects may be avoided. As per the packaging of WD40, it is made of steel. Steel is non-biodegradable but recyclable. 

WD40 acts as a lubricant, rust preventer, moisture displacer and penetrant. There are several other more specialised products for these tasks but WD40 has been the number one choice due to its versatility and ease of use. 

However, the real threats to the environment can not be assessed until full details of the product recipe and production are revealed till then, it is assumed as safe for the environment based on the listed categories of ingredients. Also, the given alternatives to WD40 can also be preferred until the exact list of ingredients is revealed by the producers of WD40. 

What is WD40 and what are the main ingredients of WD40?

In order to truly decipher the environmental impact of WD40, let us delve into the basic introduction to what WD 40 is and what are its ingredients WD40. This will give us a decent idea as to what are the environmental impacts of WD40. It will also help us to build a case on the biodegradability of WD40. 

WD 40 stands for water displacement 40th. It is an aerosol spray that was developed by Rocket Chemical company around sixty years ago. It has multiple uses and is primarily designed to be used as a degreaser and lubricant. The product became so popular that the company renamed itself WD40 Company after its product.

The exact ingredients of WD40 are unknown due to the fact that the company did not file for a patent to not risk the leaking of information and to secure the safety of the recipe so it is generally more difficult to address the whole question about ingredients but the company has revealed the type of ingredients used which we will discuss.

According to the packaging, WD40 is primarily made of petrochemicals and some other substances. The list includes LVP Aliphatic hydrocarbon, Petroleum base oil, Aliphatic hydrocarbon, and Carbon dioxide.

From the list, petroleum oil and aliphatic hydrocarbons are categories that may include any one of the several compounds found in the category. For example, Aliphatic hydrocarbons include many substances such as butane, propane, methane, octane etc. So to address the exact effects of these ingredients or to know about them is difficult. 

Are the ingredients of WD40 biodegradable and toxic?

Yes, all the ingredients used in making WD40 are biodegradable. Aliphatic hydrocarbons are known to be easily biodegradable due to weak bonding between carbonates. Petroleum-based oils are also known to be inherently biodegradable hence the ingredients used to make WD40 are biodegradable.

Aliphatic hydrocarbons have been known to be toxic for humans and there have been reports of breathing problems in people who inhaled WD40 which can cause problems in the lungs due to the presence of aliphatic hydrocarbons. The toxicity of petroleum-based oils is low compared to aliphatic compounds.

Regarding the ingredients of WD40, another factor that must be considered WD40 did not reveal the exact list of ingredients which means that the exact biodegradability and toxicity of its constituents can never be known which is dependent on several factors. For example, the toxicity of butane and methane is not the same.

There are other risks associated with aliphatic hydrocarbons that are highly flammable and that is the reason WD40 is highly flammable and must be handled with care. 

What are the applications of WD40?

WD40 has vast applications that include every single type of industry and the product is used and kept in homes as an essential substance that can be needed at any time. 

It acts as a lubricant, rust preventer, moisture displacer and penetrant. There are several other more specialised products for these tasks but WD40 has been the number one choice due to its versatility and ease of use. 

WD 40 is mostly used on mechanical parts, and bolts which have caught or grease leakages as it can easily clean these. It is an excellent lubricant which allows mechanical parts to move easily when are stuck. 

There is a funny saying that “You need two things in life. Duct tape and WD40. If it is moving and it shouldn’t, use duct tape. It is not moving and it should. Use WD40”

How does WD40 impact the environment?

WD40has no impact on the environment in any significant way as it does not contain CFCs has a minute amount of carbon dioxide and does not release any gas which is harmful to the environment.

The only concern remaining is how it affects human and plant health which has already been discussed that some of its constituents are toxic to humans and must be administered in a careful manner.

However, this is not the entire picture. There are a number of other unseen factors that one can not be oblivious of. For example, the question that exists is how clean is the energy used to manufacture WD40. 

We see that in most cases, the energy source is non-renewable energy which is extracted at the expense of burning fossil fuels. This releases harmful gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.  

Are there any greener alternatives to WD40?

Yes, there are greener options that can be considered but they are for individual purposes meaning that some of them might be good for cleaning, some might be good for rust prevention but they are not as versatile as WD40, still, they are greener as they are natural.

The question arises because, with the passing of time, there is a greater shift towards sustainability and eco-friendly. That is also why we have the emergence of bioplastics that are made from natural sources and have minimal impacts as compared to conventional plastics. 

Trickshot is a similar product that is non-flammable, non-toxic and 100% biodegradable and has almost the same composition as WD40 and is claimed to do everything that WD40 can do.

As weird as it may sound, beeswax is a natural substance that can act as an excellent lubricant and can imitate the properties of WD40 for rust prevention and lubrication and is also 100% biodegradable. 

There are many other greener alternatives available on the market that claim to be almost the same in quality as WD40 but have met with little success in comparison with WD40 probably due to the fact that there are genuine or alarming points regarding the effects of WD40 on the environment which make these products more desirable than WD40.

Are the cans of WD40 recyclable? (5 advantages) 

Yes, cans of WD40 are made of steel and are recyclable like all other steel cans which are used for aerosol products. These cans are separated at a recycling facility and are recycled for them to be used again.

Recycling is an important parameter that can tell a lot about how eco-friendly and sustainable a product is. By definition, recycling means reusing a product after slight modifications. When a product or material is recycled, it means that the following benefits are ensured. These include: 

  • Resource conservation
  • Decreased LCA
  • Better waste management 
  • Decreased carbon footprint
  • Decreased waste generation

It must also be noted that the cans are made from steel and steel is a non-biodegradable material. Therefore, recycling is regarded as one of the best solutions to non-biodegradable materials such as steel because otherwise there will be unsustainable pressure on the landfills and waste management systems. 

Is the production and use of WD40 sustainable?

Production and use of WD40 can be considered sustainable due to the fact that there are not any serious concerns or risks reported regarding its use and production. The product is like any other on the market that has to be carefully used.

Currently, the production and use are not that much to be studied under markers of sustainability but these products do contribute to the life of other products that may be discarded and hence are very essential.

Conclusion

It is concluded that WD40 is regarded as biodegradable because all the ingredients used in making WD40 are biodegradable. Aliphatic hydrocarbons are known to be easily biodegradable due to weak bonding between carbonates. Petroleum-based oils are also known to be inherently biodegradable hence the ingredients used to make WD40 are biodegradable.

WD40 is an essential product that has many beneficial applications and is biodegradable. It must be handled as with all aerosol products so that its harmful effects may be avoided. As per the packaging of WD40, it is made of steel. Steel is non-biodegradable but recyclable. 

WD40 acts as a lubricant, rust preventer, moisture displacer and penetrant. There are several other more specialised products for these tasks but WD40 has been the number one choice due to its versatility and ease of use. 

However, the real threats to the environment can not be assessed until full details of the product recipe and production are revealed till then, it is assumed as safe for the environment based on the listed categories of ingredients. Also, the given alternatives to WD40 can also be preferred until the exact list of ingredients is revealed by the producers of WD40. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Is WD40 biodegradable?

Can you compost WD40?

Although WD40 is biodegradable, you can not compost WD40 because it may contain toxic materials that can harm the soil and water ecosystems. Another reason why this option can not be explored is the fact that the exact list of ingredients has not been revealed by the manufacturers of WD40. 

What is WD40 used for?

WD40 acts as a lubricant, rust preventer, moisture displacer and penetrant. There are several other more specialised products for these tasks but WD40 has been the number one choice due to its versatility and ease of use. 

References:

  • Glynn, K. P., & Gale, N. A. (1990). Exogenous lipoid pneumonia due to inhalation of spray lubricant (WD-40 lung). Chest, 97(5), 1265-1266.
  • Artham, T., & Doble, M. (2008). Biodegradation of aliphatic and aromatic polycarbonates. Macromolecular Bioscience, 8(1), 14-24.
  • The alternatives to WD40. Retrieved from https://www.thefiltery.com/is-wd40-toxic-alternatives/ 

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