Friday, July 1, 2011

Duct Tape

It's like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side and holds the Universe together.

One of the wonders of the modern world has undoubtedly got to be Duct tape. Or Gorilla tape, or gaffers tape, I know there are different ones in different parts of the world. It's a waterproof thick tape with a fabric embeded layer. I think that duct tape is most often grey and gaff tape is mostly black, but now they come in different colours, clear and camo.

It's a multi-purpose tape and can be used for minor repairs to tents, backpacks, shoes, can remove plantar warts (I'm gonna try that use on one of my kids), covers holes in screens and nets to keep out the bugs, can be used to pull out a sting or splinter, makes a great bandaid, waterproofs your box of matches in the rain, waterproofs seams, fixes tent poles, holds on parts of your car in an emergency (not the tail pipe of course) and you can use it on ducts!

The more expensive tape brands or gaff tape tends to leave a lot less sticky residue once removed so if you use a lot of tape or are going backpacking somewhere that a replacement is not easily found, spend the money and get a whole roll of the good stuff. You won't be sorry.

On the farm there are probably 3 items I find most useful and they are 1. bailing twine 2. duct tape 3. pocket knife I can do a lot of small repairs with these items and doing a repair while it's small can prevent something from becoming a big problem later in many cases. For example, a rip in the greenhouse plastic is easily fixed with tape. But left out in the wind it will flap, the tear gets bigger and you can lose all your plants to wind damage. Better to fix the rip immediately. Also, duct tape is great for sealing your bee suit to your shoes and gloves if you're working with aggressive or unfamiliar bees. There's not much worse than having an angry bee marching determinedly up the inside of your thigh.

The motorhome and the Prowler trailer are good examples of my NOT to use duct tape outside. The stuff was covering holes in the body but was breaking down due to UV exposure leaving a sticky and stringy mess for us to clean up. Apart from that though, I could sing about the marvels of duct tape all day but it's usefulness has one limiting factor. Your resourcefulness. If you can think of a use them the tape is your friend. If not, well then it's just a roll of tape your friends borrow sometimes. So I challenge you to think outside the box.

Do you have an inventive use for Duct Tape? Send us a comment!


  1. Pet Peeve of mine: its actually Duck Tape. Named for its ability to stay stuck while troops were slogging through the swamps of Vietnam, Duck Tape is very verstatile. It is often used inappropriately as Duct Tape to seal furnace ducting, unfortunately, Duck Tape does not hold up to the rigours of heat all that well.

  2. There is a brand of tape called Duck Tape. But duct tape as a product was invented during the second world war and was used for everything from patching airplanes to sealing ammunition boxes, it's original purpose. You're right that some types of tape can become brittle when exposed to heat but there are duct tapes that withstand heat and usually the amount of heat in an air duct is not extreme. You make a good observation that people should pay attention to what they are buying and read the label.

  3. WWII, not Vietnam... Oops... my mistake.

    I will grant modern usage is trending towards calling it Duct Tape, however this is very misleading. Also the brand "Duck Tape" was created to capitalize on the use of the term (the term pre-dates the brand significantly, ~50 years).

    Given both terms have been used, everyone will have to decide for themselves, but given both terms have been around for a long time, the earliest references seem to be to Duck Tape, the material is remarkably waterproof (like a duck), and the use of the material is totally inappropriate for use on ducts (leads to fires), I'm sticking with "Duck":