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All About Duck or Duct Tape

Updated on December 22, 2011

This Tape By Any Other Name Would Stick As Well

Whether to call it "duct" tape, or "duck" tape is a topic of great debate. Those of a historical bent insist the original name was "duck" tape, first manufactured in 1942 during WWII by Johnson and Johnson, where it was widely used by the military, and admired for its water repellent qualities (like a duck) as well as its cotton duck canvas style of weave. It was supposedly later adopted by the heating and air industry to seal and join air ducts; however, there are industry specific, fire retardant, metal backed tapes that are better suited to this application. Whatever you call it, this traditionally gray tape is extremely sticky, pressure sensitive, very strong, and reputed to have the ability to repair everything from helicopter blades to automobiles. It also has an apparently endless number of creative applications, to boot.

Non-traditional Common Uses

Practically all the uses of duct/duck tape qualify as non-traditional simply because of the many useful and creative ways in which it is employed. Just a few of the more common uses are: as packing tape, to hold down cords (a special tape, known as gaffer's tape, is actually better for this purpose, as it is formulated to not leave a sticky residue, unlike duct tape), for minor repairs and to hold together automotive fiberglass bodywork. It is used to identify luggage, to hem pants, and to delint clothing. Because it is waterproof, duct tape works well to cover anything that would be otherwise damaged by moisture. Kids use it to cover their text books. Parents put it on the bottom of their babies' shoes to keep them from slipping. Cop shows frequently feature bad guys using it to secure their victim's hands and feet, as well as to silence them, and it can be used as an emergency medical bandage to stop bleeding and to hold the edges of a wound together until a hospital can be reached. Duct tape has been lauded as a cure for warts, and is frequently used in both the sporting and automotive industries for various joining and strengthening purposes.

Creative Uses

The number of creative uses for duct tape are unending. It has been used to recover sofas, make shower curtains, prom dresses, bracelets, dog collars, hammocks and flip flops. The manufacturing industry has caught on to this trend, and now manufactures duct tape in a wide array of colors and patterns. Need something in camouflage green? No problem! Decorating for Christmas? This year duct tape comes in red and white candy cane stripes, as well as in green and gold (and in any other color you might want). Patterns for Christmas tree ornaments abound. Need to patch your leather sofa or chair? Chances are duct tape now comes in a color that closely matches the original. Wallets and purses made of duct tapes are currently hot, as well as are shopping and tote bags. Follow some of the links listed below and see for yourself!

Ode to Duct Tape

Oh, wide tape of such wondrous stick

Without whose presence, life might come unglued,

What words express my admiration thick -

The gratitude that to you I am imbued?

Oh tape of different names: duct, duck

Goose for all I care, for thou art strong,

And loyal, faithful art thou, I am struck

Anew with joy that to me thou dost belong.

Thy uses shalt be numbered by the mil -

Thy praises with delight I will proclaim,

Thy beauteous hold such inspirations thrill

For to all life's problems the answer thou'st became.

For every woe I find I may employ

A strip of thy’s most sticky, clingy gray

Thou art my love, my playfulness, my toy

And none to thou can value e'er outweigh.

The Future of Duct Tape

Duct tape has already been to the moon, in 1972 with the Apollo 17 astronauts, and performed a repair so important that the lives of those astronauts present are thought to have been saved by the humble gray tape. So where does the future lead? Only God and the creative genius He instilled in human beings know the answer to that question. It should be interesting ... we will all just have to wait and see.

Stick around.


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      Duck/duct tape is the most important item in a tool box.

      Thanks for the background on the sticky stuff.


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