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To the Editor:—This letter should serve as a constructive supplement to the report of Downing and his collaborators in the June 1944 issue of the Archives (page 357). The report alleges that dermatologists prefer a jet black color to their crude coal tar salve as against the greenish shade some products possess and relates clinical experience with both types of salve as revealing similar therapeutic efficacy.
There are two groups of substances in crude coal tar. Both are black; but one is stable, and the other readily turns a chocolate brown on contact with water and air (oxygen). Mixtures of black and brown give greenish shades, an olive drab color. May I suggest a simple experiment for those of my colleagues who seek experimental proof of this fact:
Add thoroughly mixed crude coal tar, to the extent of 20 per cent, to an anhydrous hydrophilic base—let us say,
Sharlit H. COAL TAR IN DERMATOLOGIC PREPARATIONS. Arch Derm Syphilol. 1944;50(2):124. doi:10.1001/archderm.1944.01510140047012
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