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The following is an articles published in the Panama Herald, November 28, 1936



Former Chemist Prepared Enlightening Account That is Illustration of the Initiative and Resourcefulness He Displayed


A few days before his untimely death, on Nov. 22nd, C.A. Clemens, Chief Chemist of the Commissary Division's Industrial Laboratory at Mount Hope, prepared an enlightening account of his aims and techniques of the Laboratory. Mr. Clemens' article is significant, not only as evidence of the importance of the work, but as an illustration of how much initiative and resourcefulness he brought to his duties over a period of twelve years. His contribution is as follows:

"Among the warehouses and plants of the Commissary Division probably the Industrial Laboratory is the most interesting. Here are centered a variety of activities which may be classified under three headings: First, the production for sale of a large number and variety of items; secondly, the chemical control and examination of many products for the Industrial Laboratory and other units of the Division to aid in manufacturing processes, to serve as a guide in purchasing supplies, and to determine the soundness of complaints received on merchandise handled and sold; and thirdly, the development of new items for production of the Industrial Laboratory.


Cecil Clemens' laboratory in the Panama Canal Zone. The person in the picture is not identified.

"Visitors to the Industrial Laboratory most frequently ask about the methods used in the development work and consequently a few illustrations may be of interest to show the character of adopted procedures.

"The most common reason for the selection of items for study is the differential between the average industrial laboratory's production cost and the selling price of similar items on the market. There are many products on the market today which are merely modifications of well-known formulas and which sell for disproportionate prices. In this field very little, if any, experimental work is required to produce at Mount Hope certain drug-store products commonly used in practically every household.

"In emulating a standardized product a sample is prepared and then if it needs modification the quantities of various ingredients and modes of procedure are varied until a suitable mixture is obtained. For example, a widely advertised mouth wash is made from a slightly modified formula of the National Formulary and sells throughout the United States for 65, per 14-ounce bottle, while the Laboratory at Mount Hope makes a similar item which is sold at 35 for a 32-ounce bottle.

"In the case of such products as talcum powders, bath dusting powders, face powders, toilet creams, shaving creams, tooth powders, prepared waxes, etc. the same general technique is followed.

"By tracing the development of "P.C." face powders, one may understand the procedure. At first several hundred formulas for face powders were gathered together from books and magazines. A study of these showed that only a comparatively few basic materials were used, the multiplicity of formulas being due to various combinations and proportions of the common ingredients. A number of the suggested materials were immediately discarded as either unsuitable or dangerous to use.

"Samples of the remaining ingredients were then obtained from various suppliers, who also furnished formulas and suggestions. They were examined physically and chemically in order to select the ones best suited for the patrons of the Commissary Division. By placing in new formulas, desirable ingredients, samples were prepared and examined for their degree of slip, covering power, transparency, adhesiveness and moisture resistance.

"During the original tests twenty women volunteered their services to consider the quality of various face powders prepared at the Laboratory. At the end of a year of experimentation, which included tests to obtain desired shades and perfumes, a satisfactory powder was developed and placed in the Commissaries at a reasonable price.

"In other instances products are developed which are entirely different from those on the market. The Panama Canal Health Department suggested that a powder containing sodium thiosulfate be prepared for treatment of tropical itches. Several formulas were made up and samples submitted to the Gorgas Hospital for trial. The most effective one is now on sale.

"Although a "P.C." product is on sale for retarding the growth of mildew on leathers and bookbindings, experiments are now under way to improve the effectiveness of this product. Wax solutions containing fungicides are being applied to leather and to coatings of gelatine on wood. In connection with this experiment, observations will be made to determine accurate comparisons between treated and untreated surfaces. Such work requires a great deal of time before conclusions can be reached."

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