Super-Hydrophobic Spray Makes All Your Stuff Liquid-Proof

It should start showing up on store shelves in a few weeks.

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It’s definitely weird to watch the NeverWet chemists pump chocolate syrup onto a pair of white canvas shoes and to see the syrup roll off in ribbons. Or how about when the researchers dunk an iPhone into a beaker of water and then pull out the phone and use it?

NeverWet is a set of two ultra-hydrophobic sprays, including a base coat and top coat, that you can use to treat paper, fabric, metal and other materials. When local news site Lancaster Online first posted a video about NeverWet—invented by chemists based near Lancaster, Pennsylvania—the video garnered almost 1.4 million views. Now, two years later, it’ll finally be available commercially. NeverWet will sell for $19.97 at Home Depot, Lancaster Online reports in an updated story.

Rust-Oleum, a manufacturing company that’s licensed to sell NeverWet, has a video describing how to use it. Rust-Oleum advertises the spray for building materials and shoes:

Meanwhile, NeverWet’s Lancaster creators are less conservative about their invention. In video interviews with Lancaster Online, they sprayed a cardboard box to turn it into a makeshift cooler and even demonstrated how to waterproof an iPhone. We haven’t tried it here, so we can’t say for sure if it’s a good idea to spray NeverWet onto your phone, nor does it seem Rust-Oleum officially endorses protecting electronics with the product.

We also can’t say if you’ll be able to pick it up immediately when it comes out. Rust-Oleum wouldn’t tell Lancaster Online how much NeverWet will be made and which Home Depots will carry it. It will start appearing on store shelves in a few weeks, the news site reported. The spray set does seem to be for sale on Home Depot’s website. (Thanks, ComputerDan!)

NeverWet scientists first stumbled upon the stuff while trying to make a coating to protect steel from corrosion. They ended up with a spray that forms a very high angle of contact for any water that touches it, Lancaster Online explained. A material with a contact angle of zero will make a drop of water lie flat. Human skin has a contact angle of 75 to 90 degrees. Car wax has a contact angle of 95 degrees. NeverWet creates a contact angle of 165 degrees. If the contact angle were 180 degrees, any water touching it would form a perfect sphere.

June 20: I updated this post with some more information from Rust-Oleum. I also added that you can find NeverWet on the Home Depot website.

Lancaster Online