7 WD-40 Substitutes To Use In a Pinch + DIY Homemade Options

You’d be hard-pressed to find a household that doesn’t have a can of WD40 lurking somewhere within it. Created as a rust-prevention solvent and degreaser for the aerospace industry, WD40 has been around since 1953, helping people lubricate hinges and loosen rusty joints worldwide.

While the usefulness of WD-40 is undeniable, there are a few reasons you may want to leave it off your bug-out bag checklist. It’s highly flammable, for a start, and contains hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, and petroleum-based oil, none of which are very friendly to the environment.

If you feel you can’t survive without your WD40 but would prefer not to risk burning down your survival shelter, could you try one of these substitutes?

Lubricants To Use Instead Of WD-40

#1 Trick Shot Penetrating Lubricant

This product is very similar to WD40 but is non-flammable, non-toxic, and 100% biodegradable. It can do everything WD40 can do, from loosening stiff locks to cleaning pine sap off your cooking utensils.

#2 Petroleum Jelly

Commonly used to treat dry skin conditions, petroleum jelly’s powers as a lubricant are often overlooked. Smear a little onto a rusty chain or sticky joint, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it loosens things up.

Despite its name, petroleum jelly isn’t flammable and will simply melt if it gets too hot. Surprisingly enough, it’s also great for starting fires, as you can see from this video.

Unfortunately, petroleum jelly is only a little more environmentally friendly than WD40. As a byproduct of oil refining, petroleum jelly does not biodegrade. Drop a large dollop of it on the forest floor, and the soil underneath will be unable to breathe, causing negative consequences for the organisms within it.

#3 Beeswax

Instead of packing a tub of petroleum jelly into your bug-out bag, why not opt for a natural substance with similar properties, like beeswax?

Not only is beeswax completely biodegradable, but it’s also an effective lubricant and, as it doesn’t retain moisture, can also prevent rust.

#4 Plumber’s Grease

As its name suggests, it’s most commonly used for plumbing, as its silicone base makes it more effective than petroleum-based lubricants in wet conditions.

Some brands of plumber’s grease are non-toxic and 100% biodegradable, making it a good substitute for WD-40.

#5 Homemade WD40 Substitute

Making your own WD40 substitute is straightforward and surprisingly effective.

While there are a couple of different recipes to choose from, the most effective one comprises 90% vegetable oil and 10% acetone. As both of these products are organic and biodegradable, you can use them without causing any harm to the environment.

Not only is the lubricant safe, but it’s just as effective as WD40.

Engineering students at Drexel University in Philadelphia assessed the two products as they tried to identify a WD-40 alternative that could loosen rusted bolts effectively while keeping production costs to a minimum.

During their research, they conducted a series of tests. They concluded that vegetable oil and acetone mixture might be better than WD-40 in terms of both lubrication and rust prevention.

Vegetable oil is something most preppers consider essential, and if you know how to store cooking oil for the long term, it will be readily available when disaster strikes.

Acetone is most commonly found in nail varnish remover, which doesn’t usually appear on a survivalist’s bug-out bag checklist, even though it probably should.

Not only can you use it to make a WD-40 substitute, but it’s also great for starting fires and is essential for making chloroform. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering quite why you might need chloroform in a survival situation, so I found out for you.

Chloroform can be used as an anesthetic to make a person lose consciousness, which could come in handy in a serious medical emergency. Who knew nail varnish remover was so useful?

Two Ways To Make A WD-40 Substitute

Method 1: Fill a spray bottle with one part water and three parts organic vegetable oil. Shake to mix. Apply as you would WD-40.

Method 2: Mix 90% organic vegetable oil with 10% acetone and shake to combine.

Uses For Your Homemade WD-40

While at home, you may want to remove rust from your lawnmower blades or stop a squeak in your electric fan, but these problems won’t arise when living in a survival shelter.

Fortunately, homemade WD-40 has even more uses than the real thing, including:

  • Loosening nuts and screws
  • Fixing stuck tent zippers
  • Preventing rust from accumulating on essential bushcraft tools
  • Soothing sore muscles and joints
  • Repelling insects, wasps, and other creepy crawlies
  • Preventing snow from sticking to a shovel
  • Untangling a fishing line
  • Removing burs from an animal’s hair

I can’t imagine anyone wanting to use WD-40 as a massage oil, so that’s one significant advantage to making your own, especially considering how tough life in the wilderness can be.


As helpful as WD-40 is, it isn’t necessarily something you want bouncing around in your bug-out bag. It’s highly flammable and not particularly friendly to the world around you.

While other commercial lubricants are non-flammable and, in some cases, also non-toxic and biodegradable, they aren’t as versatile as the homemade alternative.

Making your own WD-40 will save you money, be kinder to the environment, and provide you with a more versatile substance that can keep insects at bay and soothe sore muscles just as effectively as it can prevent rust and loosen stuck zippers.

Also see our list of interesting WD-40 facts.

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