47 Facts About Borax To Help You Learn About The Chemical Compound

Aryan Khanna
Nov 21, 2022 By Aryan Khanna
Originally Published on Jan 30, 2022
Fact-checked by Pratiti Nath
47 Facts About Borax To Help You Learn About The Chemical Compound
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.4 Min

Borax is a chemical compound that is used in a variety of ways, including as a cleaning agent and in the manufacturing of glass.

Borax, which is chemically recognized as a hydrated salt of boric acid, is commonly recognized by names such as sodium borate or sodium tetraborate decahydrate. Borax is generally found as powdered borax or in granular form which is often dissolved in water to obtain an aqueous solution basic in nature.

Borax is widely used for industrial purposes as well as for domestic purposes. A large variety of cleaning products have borax as one of their ingredients.

The mineral borax is largely found in salt lakes located in arid regions. The mineral borax tends to lose water and eventually turn white as it gets exposed to air.

The mineral can also be found in the form of incrustations on alkaline marshes which lie on top of borax deposits. Interestingly, 'borax' is often used as an umbrella term for chemical compounds or minerals which differ on the basis of the crystal water content in them.

Borates and boric acid are widely used in the current day and can be derived from borax. For instance, if you carry out a controlled reaction of borax and hydrochloric acid, you will obtain boric acid.

Facts About Borax

Borax is a soluble item that can easily dissolve in water and has wide industrial applications. The substance was discovered by humans way back in the eighth century. Let's take a look at some interesting facts about borax which you are probably unaware of.

  • The chemical formula of borax isNa2B4O5(OH)4.8H2Owhich can also be regarded as sodium tetraborate octahydrate.
  • The equivalent of sodium tetraborate octahydrate is sodium tetraborate decahydrate whose chemical formula is Na2B4O7·10H2O.
  • When the composition of borax is Na2B4O7.10H2O, it is denoted by the composition name hydrous sodium borate.
  • The earliest record of borax dates back to the eighth century when borax was found in the dry lake beds of Tibet.
  • The mineral borax was then imported to the Arabian peninsula via the Silk Road.
  • Borax is formed when water from saline lakes in arid regions evaporates. This is the natural way of producing borax.
  • Borax can be formed synthetically as a by-product while carrying out mining operations involving borate deposits.
  • Large deposits of borax were later discovered in the northwestern part of the United States, and currently, it is borax from these mines which meets the entire world's industrial needs for borax.
  • Interestingly, borax is a fairly soluble substance but it is specifically insoluble if ethanol is the solvent.
  • Once borax loses the water in it, it turns into a new mineral which is known as tincalconite.
  • Interestingly, the mineral tincalconite has the exact same elements as borax but the water content in it is half of what is present in borax and the mineral also displays a different crystal system while crystallizing.
  • Hot boiling water is used in order to make borax crystals as studies have shown that hot water can contain more dissolved borax than cold water.
  • Borax deposits found in Tibet were all exported to Europe in the name of tincal, which was in a crude state itself.
  • In the United States, the southeastern parts of California - Inyo County, San Bernardino County and Death Valley - are home to considerably large deposits of borax.
  • According to researchers, countries like Peru and Chile contain massive amounts of borax.
  • Minerals such as gypsum, halite and colemanite are all deposited in a manner similar to the way in which borax is deposited.


Uses Of Borax

Borax is an integral part of the cleaning products industry. The substance is not only used by large scale manufacturers as an ingredient in their products but it is also purchased by local households for cleaning purposes. There is a wide scope of using this white powder mineral.

  • In the medical sector, borax is used as a product in the process of making antiseptics.
  • Borax is used in the process of welding metals and soldering brass.
  • Some amount of borax is used by cosmetic manufacturing companies in certain products.
  • Boron is employed in the manufacturing of integrated circuits in solid-state electronics.
  • Boron carbide, a substance which is well known for its durability and strength, is derived from boron.
  • These days, borax is required in large amounts so commercial production of borax is carried out which requires colemanite as the primary substance. Colemanite has a host of uses such as making glass and enamels, acting as a preservative and manufacturing colored glazes.
  • For cleaning purposes, if you combine two spoons of borax with around four cups of warm water, four spoons of vinegar and some amount of dish soap, the solution obtained can be used for cleaning windows, tabletops and appliances.
  • Borax is used by industries that undertake the production of ceramics, coated paper, paint and glass.
  • Interestingly, if you combine borax with water, the alkaline solution obtained can be used as a detergent or disinfectant.
  • If you have bug infestations in your house, you can mix borax and white sugar in equal proportions and sprinkle some near the bug-infested area. Ants will consume the sugar along with borax which will kill these insects.
  • If you have stains on your countertops or in your sinks, you can mix a cup of borax with a quarter cup of lemon juice to form a paste which can then be used to clean the stained areas.
  • People who have unwanted weed growth in their backyard can mix a cup of borax powder with a couple of gallons of water to obtain a solution that, when sprayed, eliminates all weeds.
  • You can eliminate a foul smell from your shoes if you soak them in a solution of mineral borax and water.
  • A paste formed by the mixture of borax, lemon juice and warm water has the ability to remove rust from tools.
A solution of mineral borax and warm water can replace the majority of your house's cleaning supplies.

Dangers Of Borax

Irrespective of how useful or harmless a chemical might seem, it should always be handled with care as it is dangerous in some way or another. Borax is no different and despite all its uses, it too needs to be handled with care.

On the upside, it is perhaps not the most toxic or dangerous of all minerals but it has a fair share of negative aspects. Let's take a look at some of those and understand how to use borax without inflicting any harm.

  • Generally, borax can lead to skin irritation, health toxicity and hormone issues if you come in contact with it in an unsafe situation.
  • If your eyes or skin are exposed to borax, it can cause severe irritation depending upon the amount of borax you are dealing with. Skin rash, eye irritation and mouth infection are some of the most common symptoms after coming in contact with borax.
  • If mistakenly you inhale some borax in its powdery form, it can harm your body. You may experience vomiting, respiratory problems and nausea.
  • If your body is exposed to high amounts of boric acid or borax for a long period of time, it can lead to disruptions in your body's hormone levels.
  • Accidental inhalation or consumption even in low amounts can lead to internal organ damage.
  • You must be extremely careful with dealing with hydrous sodium borate when there are children around as if a child consumes merely 0.17-0.35 oz (5-10 g) of borax, he or she can severely fall ill and in extreme cases, it can lead to death.
  • The European Union and Canada have restricted the usage of borax as ingredients in any cosmetic or health product due to its health effects.
  • In case of any emergency situation involving borax where someone has inhaled or accidentally drank harmful amounts of borax, you must contact your local poison control center for immediate help.


Properties Of Borax

Borax is one of the commonly found minerals in nature. It is the salt of boric acid and is also known by the names of sodium borate, disodium tetraborate and sodium tetraborate.

According to scientists, borax is an important compound of boron. Interestingly, the anhydrous form of borax is also known as borax. Let's now take a look at some of the properties of this naturally found mineral.

  • The mineral borax is translucent when initially found but turns opaque as it gets exposed to air and loses its water content.
  • The anhydrous state of borax has a molar mass of 202.22 while decahydrate borax has a molar mass of 381.38.
  • The boiling point of anhydrous borax is 2,867 F (1,575 C) and it is fully soluble in water.
  • Borax is an inflammable substance and produces a yellow-green colored flame when burnt.
  • Borax is quite soluble in ethylene glycol but not so in acetone.
  • The melting point of this salt of boric acid is 1,369.4 F (743 C) when it is in its anhydrous state but the melting point falls down to 167 F (75 C) when it is in its decahydrate state.

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Written by Aryan Khanna

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Aryan Khanna picture

Aryan KhannaBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

A dedicated and hardworking content writer currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Management Studies from St. Xavier's University, Kolkata. Aryan aims to gain corporate exposure and enhance his skills while creating well-researched and engaging content that is SEO-friendly. Aryan is a talented individual who puts in the effort to overcome any obstacle in his way.

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Fact-checked by Pratiti Nath

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology, Masters of Science specializing in Biotechnology

Pratiti Nath picture

Pratiti NathBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology, Masters of Science specializing in Biotechnology

A Master's in Biotechnology from Presidency University and a Bachelor's in Microbiology from Calcutta University. Pratiti holds expertise in writing science and healthcare articles, and their inputs and feedback help writers create insightful content. They have interests in heritage, history, and climate change issues and have written articles for various websites across multiple subjects. Their experience also includes working with eco-friendly startups and climate-related NGOs.

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