What’s Borax?

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Borax is a mineral and refined compound with various uses, including food preservation, pottery glazes, and cleaning. It can cause skin reactions and ingestion is not recommended. Borax is used in flame retardants, antiseptics, and fungicides, and can be used as a buffer in chemical reactions. Borax is refined by mixing it with water and a catalyst. Borax can become boric acid when mixed with sulfuric acid, which is used in cleaning and as an antiseptic.

The term “borax” is used to refer to both a mineral and a refined compound with numerous applications. The mineral takes the form of colorless to white soft crystals, which can sometimes be tinged with brown, yellow, or green. When struck against another material, borax leaves a brittle white streak. The substance is also known as sodium tetraborate or disodium tetraborate and has been known to man for thousands of years. The mineral is a chemical compound of the element boron and the chemical formula is Na2B4O7*10H2O.

The name comes from a Persian word, burak, which was used to refer to borax and other borate salts in the Middle East, taken over by the Romans and adopted by Middle English. Borax and its salts were used in the preservation of both food and mummies, as well as making glazes for pottery in China and as a cleaning material. In medieval Europe, it was used as a flux in welding, to clean the metal before it was welded together. Borax is still used today for similar purposes, although it is more heavily refined for purity.

While borax is not violently toxic, it can cause skin reactions. Ingestion is also not recommended, as even small amounts are not beneficial to human health. At home, it can be useful for cleaning, freshening up the laundry and as an insecticide or pesticide. Borax is also used in the production of flame retardants, antiseptics and fungicides. In the laboratory, the compound can be used as a buffer for chemical reactions, as it is a non-reactive base and will keep chemical solutions stable.

Natural borax has a high percentage of water. As the water evaporates, the mineral becomes whiter and more brittle. If left to dehydrate, it will turn into tinchalconite. Once refined for use, borax is usually broken down and mixed with water, along with a catalyst that will cause the mineral to dissolve. The pure crystals of borax reform and are ready for packaging or further refinement with other chemicals. Kernite, another chemical compound that contains boron, is also refined into borax.

When mixed with sulfuric acid, borax becomes boric acid. used in a number of industrial applications, including cleaning and storage. It is also used as a mild antiseptic and as an eye solution for people suffering from eye irritation. Boric acid is also marketed as an alternative insecticide, as it is milder than some chemical compounds.

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