Chestnut Hill inventor Solomon Rosenblatt, 90, has created “IoWipe,” a black sponge cloth that comes in a 7” x 7” wipe for use on hands, car interiors, grocery carts and all kitchen, office and restaurant surfaces. (Photo by Max Rivers)

By Stacia Friedman

Solomon Rosenblatt’s resume reads like a sci-fi novel. A chemist, inventor and entrepreneur, he has more than 10 patents to his name and, at 90, is still inventing. My dad’s been an inventor as long as I can remember,” said his daughter, Elise C. Rivers, founder and owner of Community Acupuncture in Mt. Airy. “He just submitted his latest invention to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this past January.”

Rosenblatt, who moved to Chestnut Hill seven years ago with his wife, Vicky, to be near their daughter and son-in-law, grew up in Brooklyn and had a chemistry lab in his basement before earning a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at City College of New York. 

One of his first jobs was as a paint chemist for the Ford Motor Company, where he invented a water-based enamel. After marrying Vicky in 1954, Sol moved to Sacramento, CA, to build a lab for AeroJet General in preparation for the Polaris nuclear submarine. (In the movie version of his life, Harrison Ford would no doubt play the lead.)

Moving back to the East Coast, Rosenblatt worked on the space capsule for the Apollo program. He went on to invent a porous Teflon filter which was used for poison gas detection by the U.S. Navy. Later, he adapted his Teflon invention for the bio-medical industry, including angiogram catheters.

In the 1960s, Rosenblatt co-founded Merocel, a company that manufactured his innovative lint-free surgical sponges. Vicky, who speaks both French and Italian, served as manager of international sales. Today, 30 years later, Merocel is still used in many medical applications.

Retirement from Merocel in 1995 did not stop Rosenblatt’s inventive streak. Aware that the overuse of antibiotics in animals and humans has led to resistance in their effectiveness, Rosenblatt developed an antimicrobial bandage called IoPlex for chronic wounds that would not heal due to resistant microbes.

He took a commonly available ingredient, iodine, and did something with it that had never been done before. “Though known to be an extremely effective antimicrobial, until now iodine was not able to be used in open wounds because scientists had not figured out how to dose it sufficiently so as not to damage healthy tissue.

“My dad’s invention bypassed that limitation, so iodine could be safely used in wound care without toxic side effects” said his daughter. “IoPlex has helped thousands of patients recover from chronic wounds which could not heal due to infectious microbes that would not respond to current antibiotics,” said Rosenblatt.

How do you top that? If you are Sol Rosenblatt, you invent IoWipe, which is an eco-friendly, self-sanitizing wipe with the same antimicrobial properties as IoPlex. Though the invention was created years ago, an intensive need for it didn’t seem to exist until the COVID-19 global pandemic. The product came into existence in late 2019, just before the need materialized.

IoWipe is a black sponge cloth that comes in a 7” x 7” wipe for use on hands, car interiors, grocery carts and all kitchen, office and restaurant surfaces, etc. It also comes as a  3.5” x 3.5” wipe for use on phones and electronics.  Rather than throwing the IoWipe out, one can returned it to the company for recycling and a discount on your next purchase.

“It has such broad application, is so convenient and cost-effective to use. It can help people keep their personal environment sanitized,” said Rosenblatt, who in 2015 at age 86 was honored by the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia.

“There is a definite need now for IoWipe in light of the global pandemic and future pandemics, which are likely to occur more frequently. It is a personal, convenient, reusable, cost-effective wipe that releases iodine in safe amounts. I believe it is a superior option, as compared to alcohol gels and disposable wipes.”

The fact that they can be reused and recycled is key to their uniqueness. We need to move away from one-time throw away products. (At this time, IoWipe is only sold on the internet at Iowipe.com.) Next on Rosenblatt’s agenda is a second generation of IoPlex, an insert for any face mask that makes the mask longer lasting and antimicrobial.

Behind every great man is an even greater woman. At 87, “Vicky has done and continues to do correspondence, internet and telephone communications and helps in the writing of patents. I do all the technical and chemistry work, and she does all the rest. We’re a team,” he said.

The Rosenblatts are currently in Key West, staying safe, and looking forward to returning to Chestnut Hill later this Spring.

Stacia Friedman, a Mt. Airy resident, is an author and freelance contributor to websites and local publications.

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