Synthetic detergent, left, produces billowy suds in hard water, while soap, right, forms insoluble curds. DuPont introduced the synthetics in America in 1933. Now the Organic Chemicals Department produces a number of synthetic detergents and other surface-action agents which find wide application in the textile industry.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (originator), Rittase, William M., 1894-1968 (photographer)
Within the last few years, the chemist has developed a new kind of soap. Starting with ordinary vegetable and animal oils, the chemist now makes fatty alcohols which, in combination with sulfuric acid and other chemicals gives a new class of compounds known fatty alcohol sulfates. Although chemically quite different from ordinary soap certain of the fatty alcohol sulfates are the best detergents know. That is, they are similar to ordinary soap in cleansing properties but are better in that they work just as well in hard water as in soft water. Even with briny ocean water they form billows of foaming suds. Nor do they injure the most delicate fabric or tender skin. Because of their compatibility with hard water, these new soapless soaps are now finding wide application. This photographs shows a scene of what is known as a Gardinol flaker at the Deepwater Point New Jersey plant of E.I. du Pont Nemours & Company. The final step in manufacturing this synthetic detergent is processing through flaker rolls such as these.
To make a test of the new salt water soap developed for the Army say Louise Feldman left, and Frances Montgomery, chemists in the DuPont Technical Laboratory at Deepwater Point, New Jersey. Miss Montgomery, using the new soap khaki colored for camouflage, got the heavy fuel oil off her hand quicker and more easily that Miss Feldman who used ordinary soap. Secret of the new soap's success is a special synthetic detergent, know n only as MP-646, developed by DuPont chemists. Both the laboratory basins contain salt water, often the only kid available to soldiers for bathing and laundry in some theaters of war.
The cylinder on the left contains hard water (0.04% or calcium chloride) to which a small amount of one of the new soapless soaps based on fatty alcohol sulfates has been added. Note the foamy suds extending all the way to the top of the cylinder. To the water in the cylinder on the right has been added an equal amount of ordinary soap. Note that the water has a milky appearance due to the formation of insoluble, sticky lime soaps, and that there are practically no suds.