Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Charlotte. Charlotte Wonders, “What makes duct tape sticky?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Charlotte!
In kitchen drawers and garages all over the United States, one item sits at the ready to fix a multitude of problems. That's right! We're talking about the tool that people reach for over and over again when small repairs of all types are necessary: duct tape.
Duct tape is the general term for a specific kind of durable adhesive tape with a sturdy backing that resists water. You may hear people call it “duck tape" from time to time. There's actually a specific Duck® brand of duct tape that is quite popular.
If you're wondering how many ducks it takes to make a roll of tape, the answer is zero! You can rest assured that no ducks were harmed in the production of either duct tape or Duck®-brand duct tape!
Over the years duct tape has become the go-to repair tool of millions of people. Any time you need a flexible, sturdy, and incredibly sticky tape to fix everything from cars and clothing to air ducts and leaky water pipes, just reach for a roll of duct tape.
Duct tape was invented by the Permacel division of Johnson & Johnson during World War II. Their original creation for the United States military was a green waterproof tape that could be used to seal ammunition cases to keep water out.
Soldiers soon learned that the tape was good at fixing any type of rip or tear they might encounter, whether in a tent, a vehicle seat, or a uniform. After the war, the company began to sell the tape to the public, and returning soldiers introduced it to many people back home.
One of the first uses for the tape was to repair or seal the ductwork in home heating and cooling systems. To match the color of ductwork, the company changed the color of the tape to silver and began to call it duct tape.
Many people believe that the tape was often called duck tape during World War II, because its ability to repel water reminded soldiers of the similar property of duck feathers. Others point to the fact that the new tape resembled a fabric tape already in existence, which was called cotton duck tape.
Today, duct tape can be found in many different colors, although the most popular are probably silver and black. Each year, stores sell enough duct tape to wrap around the Earth over 12 times!
Duct tape is so strong, because it's made of three different layers. The bottom layer is a strong rubber-based adhesive. The middle layer is a web of cloth fabric that adds durability. The top layer is soft, waterproof plastic.
Despite its strength, it can be torn easily by hand. This makes it very useful in repairs, since one person can quickly and easily work with the tape without the help of others.
But even though it can be torn by hand, it's still very strong. Some people claim that, if you double duct tape over and stick its adhesive sides together, you could pull a one-ton car out of a ditch!