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Slices of Life

The wondrous, exciting and waterproof duct tape

October 28, 2009
Dysart Reporter


Jill Pertler

One of the greatest inventions ever (besides training wheels and sippy cups) is duct tape. No one knows for sure who invented the sticky, waterproof stuff, but a lot of people want to take credit for it. Who wouldn't?

Every mom worth her snuff has at least two rolls of duct tape in the house, another in her purse and a fourth in the minivan. You don't leave home or planet earth without duct tape; at least that's NASA's motto. The space shuttle always carries a roll or three of duct tape on board, and we all know that NASA is made up of a bunch of smart and resourceful people who just happen to look good in silver.

What makes duct tape so great? Versatility. It is one of the world's best multi-taskers. All the mothers I know appreciate a tool that can do everything from removing warts to keeping your pants up and your car running. That's versatility at its finest.

A little history on the name: Duct tape was originally called "duck" tape. It was invented by some genius (whose name has since been forgotten) at the Johnson and Johnson company during World War II when there was a need for a waterproof adhesive tape to keep moisture out of ammunition cases. Because it was waterproof, people called it duck tape.

After the war, people found numerous uses for the waterproof tape, but mostly they used it to connect heating and air conditioning ductwork together. They changed the color of the tape from green to silver to match the ductwork and they changed the name from duck to duct to match the function.

The duct or duck has been getting along swimmingly ever since. The tape now comes in a variety of colors (including neon) to match the variety of uses that simple everyday folks like me have found for it. A quick Google search on the product netted over 89,000 results, including over 500 different creative uses for that roll of goodness known as duct tape. Not bad for a $3.00 expenditure.

As a mom, I think it should be a staple in every family's first aid kit. It can be used as a protective barrier on blisters, wrist guard for Carpal tunnel syndrome, splinter remover and is darn handy when used to keep bandages from slipping. And that wart remover thing? It's legit and is even posted on WebMD. Yeah, I was surprised myself. You might want to check it out.

If your kids play sports, you need duct tape. I've used it to hold up football pants, secure shin guards and wrap hockey sticks. Wad a bunch of it up and it becomes a ball or hockey puck. This summer, we bought a few fun colors and my kids used it to re-invent their bikes. They were happy, and I avoided buying new bikes. You read it here first: duct tape saves you money on bikes.

You can patch, hem and repair clothing and shoes with duct tape. Its waterproof function makes it a perfect patch for a rain slicker. I've even used it to get more winter out of my winter boots.

You can find many more ideas online. But, before you do, a word of caution from the good people at the duct tape company. They say: "We hope that you use duct tape wisely; however in the event your duct tape enthusiasm outweighs your common sense, our lawyers would like to remind you that every consumer needs to evaluate and determine whether duct tape is fit for a particular purpose and suitable for the user's method of application."

Duct tape is every mom's best friend. However, I think the lawyers are referring to the few (tempting) uses that are best to avoid. Taping children to walls is frowned upon. Using it to secure them to their chairs at dinnertime also violates the definition of acceptable behavior for mothers. And, no matter how much they chatter (and expect you to listen) using duct tape as a mute function for your children is a no-no. This goes double for husbands.

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award winning freelance writer. She appreciates your comments and can be reached at, or you can check out her website at



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