Saran is a trade name currently owned by S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. for a polyethylene food wrap. The Saran trade name was once owned by Dow Chemical for polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), along with other monomers. Since its accidental discovery in 1933, polyvinylidene chloride has been used for a number of commercial and industrial products.
When formed into a thin plastic film, the principal advantages of polyvinylidene chloride, when compared to other plastics, are its ability to adhere to itself and its very low permeability to water vapor, flavor and aroma molecules, and oxygen. This oxygen barrier retards food spoilage, while the film barrier to flavor and aroma molecules helps food retain its flavor and aroma.
Polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) was discovered at Dow Chemical Company (Michigan, USA) in 1933 when a lab worker, Ralph Wiley, was having trouble washing beakers used in his process of developing a dry-cleaning product. It was initially developed into a spray that was used on US fighter planes and, later, automobile upholstery, to protect them from the elements. Dow Chemical later named the product Saran and eliminated its green hue and offensive odor.
In 1942, fused layers of original-specification PVDC were used to make woven mesh ventilating insoles for newly developed jungle or tropical combat boots made of rubber and canvas. These insoles were tested by experimental Army units in jungle exercises in Panama, Venezuela, and other countries, where they were found to increase the flow of dry outside air to the insole and base of the foot, reducing blisters and tropical ulcers. The PVDC ventilating mesh insole was later adopted by the United States Army for standard issue in its M-1945 and M-1966 Jungle Boots. In 1943, John Reilly (Ralph Wiley's boss) and Ralph Wiley of The Dow Chemical Co. completed the final work needed for introduction of PVDC, which had been invented in 1939. PVDC monofilaments were also extruded for the first time. The word "Saran" was coined by a combination of John Reilly's wife's and daughter's names, Sarah and Ann Reilly.
In 1949, Dow introduced Saran Wrap, a thin, clingy plastic wrap that was sold in rolls and used primarily for wrapping food. It quickly became popular for preserving food items stored in the refrigerator. Saran Wrap was later acquired by S. C. Johnson & Son. However, today's Saran Wrap is no longer composed of PVDC, due to cost, processing difficulties, and environmental concerns with halogenated materials, and is now made from ordinary polyethylene. However, polyethylene has a higher oxygen permeability, which in turn affects food spoilage prevention. For example, at 23 °C and 95% relative humidity polyvinylidene chloride has an oxygen permeability of 0.6 cm3 μm m−2 d−1 kPa−1 while low-density polyethylene under the same conditions has an oxygen permeability of 2000 cm3 μm m−2 d−1 kPa−1.
After the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military phased out PVDC insoles in favor of Poron®, a microcellular urethane, for its jungle and combat boots. However, the British Army continues to use PVDC insoles in its combat boots, primarily because of its insulating properties.
In some jurisdictions, the name Saran is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, while in others,[which?] it has lost trademark status and become a generic term for these polymers. In Japan, Dow's trademark rights in Saran Wrap were assigned to Asahi Kasei, which has gone back to using polyvinylidene chloride.
- Risch, Erna, The Quartermaster Corps, Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Military History, Dept. of the Army (1953), pp. 108-109
- Kearny, Cresson H. (Maj), Jungle Snafus...And Remedies, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (1996), pp. 179-183
- Report on Orinoco-Casiquiare-Negro Waterway: Venezuela-Colombia-Brazil, Volume 4, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Office of Inter-American Affairs (July 1943)
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- Office, Government of Canada, Industry Canada, Office of the Deputy Minister, Canadian Intellectual Property. "Canadian Patent Database / Base de données sur les brevets canadiens".
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- "What is the origin of the brand names Saran Wrap and Oral B?".
- Saran Frequently Asked Questions, What ingredients are in Saran Plastic Wraps?
- Westwood, E., Smith, N., and Dyson, R., Comparison of the Influence of Three Types of Military Boot Insoles Upon the Force and Loading Rates Experienced In Drop Jump Landings, Biomechanics Symposia 2001, University of San Francisco (2001), p. 30
- "What's "Saran"?". Asahi Kasei Home Products Corporation. Retrieved May 4, 2017.