Fluid Film rattle cans

HerpDerp The Diary of Lupin Pooter
New can (left). Old, empty can (right).
Got new cans of Fluid Film after a long drought. On the left is one of my new cans. My last, empty can is on the right.

Fluid Film is great, but it was difficult to obtain (for yours truly) for a long while.

I’d gotten my last cans of the stuff courtesy of someone who lived on the Mainland, just across the border from Hong Kong, and commuted into the Big Lychee for work. Covid emergency-ism has been constricting the flow of people and goods (but particularly people) between China proper and Hong Kong and sourcing more Fluid Film ceased to be feasible, so I nursed the remainder of my stash for as long as possible. Eventually, I ran out.

Amazon.com et al. won’t ship aerosol cans to Hong Kong. Much of what’s on store shelves here is imported via the Mainland and goods have continued to flow in (thanks to a shrinking cadre of stoic truck drivers with saintly levels of patience in the face of pointless germ rituals: Life is unbearable: Hong Kong cross-border truck drivers endure mainland China’s tightened pandemic restrictions as Omicron infections surge [SCMP: February 20, 2022]) during the multiyear germ freakout. Retailers may be importing it directly from abroad or there might be a Hong Kong distributor. But while it’s altogether possible that Fluid Film is on sale somewhere in Hong Kong, I’ve never spotted it anywhere. It has been continued to be available on the Mainland throughout this period, a cargo-truck drive away, but whenever I’d periodically given purchasing it on Taobao.com a shot, no seller would take an order for either direct shipment to Hong Kong or shipment to the SF Express warehouse a stone’s throw across the border.

At some point in the past half year, perhaps very recently, that changed. I was able to buy cans of Fluid Film on Taobao without the seller kicking up a fuss, they shipped it to the consignment warehouse, the warehouse accepted the parcel, and it was reshipped to me here in Hong Kong.

Can bottoms. New can (left). Old can (right).
The bottoms of both cans. Note the lumpiness beneath the surface finish of the old can on the right.

I’d held onto the last, nearly-empty old FF can so that I could compare it with the new ones when they arrived. They seem identical except for a slight misalignment of the inks used for printing the recycling icon and message on the old can.

However, I noticed that the concave surface of the old can’s bottom was lumpy in a cottage-cheesey sort of way. A discontinuous ring of similar misshapenness girdles the can about an inch above the bottom edge, but doesn’t photograph well because of the finish and semigloss gray color of the sleeve of adhesive-backed material on which the label is printed.

Indications of corrosion surprised me. I’d never given much thought to how spray cans are manufactured and had somehow gotten it into my head that they’re all made of solid aluminum, which oxidizes but doesn’t rust like ferrous metals. Today I learned that some cans are made of aluminum and others are made of steel and the Internet says a tin spray coating is applied to both types. With that in mind, I suppose that my exhausted FF can is made of steel and the rust is afflicting the outer surface of the can, beneath the thin tin layer. I suspect the process began with water making its way in at the lip where the separate pieces constituting the can’s cylindrical body and its curved bottom were crimped together.

When I used my fingernail to press a Kimwipe into that joint and traced a bit of the can’s circumference, it came away marked with a smear of dull red rust.

Korean text labeling (says 'Eureka Chemical') on the inside of the cap.
The inner surface of the red caps for both cans bears some labeling in Korean. It says “Eureka Chemical”.

I noticed some Korean text (Hangul: 유레카 케미칼 [Eureka Chemical]) on the inner surface of each can’s red cap. Perhaps the caps are manufactured, separately from the cans, in Korea or they’re manufactured in China but only the Korean market requires any labeling on the cap. The body of the can is devoid of Hangul but sports the URL of the manufacturer’s Chinese-language site, chinaeureka.com. FF is a product of the Eureka Chemical Company [Operating since the early 1940’s and incorporated in 1953, the company continues as a family-owned business managed by descendants of the founding chemist.]. The contact details page on the Chinese FF site gives an address in Qingdao for American Eureka Chemical Co., Ltd. China Office Qingdao Eureka High-tech Co., Ltd., which seems like two separate but related corporate entities.

As an aside, the accepted, dictionary-specified phonetically-formulated Korean spellings of some English loanwords are slightly off. For example, the second syllable in the Korean version of eureka, the , sounds more like reh (rhymes with meh) than ri (rhymes with me). A native Korean term for the word chemical exists but maybe the phonetic Korean version of the English term is or was widely used when the Eureka company started doing business in Korea or perhaps they went with a straight sound-alike version of their company name at that time to make it more trademark-able. In any case, the vowel (the ) in the last syllable of (케미칼) isn’t right, sound-wise. For a more accurate pronunciation, the final syllable ought to have been 클.