Uses of Borax


Borax is a type of natural mineral and one of the most signification compounds of boron. Its chemical formula is $\mathrm{Na_2B_4O_7.10H_2O}$ that is present in both anhydrous and decahydrate states. It is available in hand soaps, laundry boosters and sometimes in toothpaste. The products are powdered hand soap, 20 Mule Team Borax and tooth bleaching formulas.

What is Borax?

Figure 1: Structure of anhydrous Borax

Borax is a solid crystal type of boron compound that is also called sodium tetra borate or sodium borate. This compound easily gets dissolved in water and it is soft and colourless. Borax has one borate ion and 3 positive ions. There are various almost similar minerals like decahydrate, pentahydrate and octahydrate salts that are also known as borax. Below is the list of the formula for these borax salts −

IUPAC NameFormula
Sodium Tetraborate (Anhydrous)$\mathrm{Na_2B_4O_7}$
Sodium Tetraborate pentahydrate$\mathrm{Na_2B_4O_7.5H_20}$
Sodium Tetraborate octahydrate$\mathrm{Na_2[B_4O_5(OH)_4].8H_2O}$
Sodium Tetraborate decahydrate$\mathrm{Na_2B_4O_7.10H_2O}$

Table 1: Different Types of Borax Minerals

Borax: Discovery

Borax was first got discovered in the year 1856 in the Tehama County of Northern California in North America. The official discovery of Borax had first happened by Aaron and Rosie Winters. They found it as they dropped alcohol and sulphuric acid into ore in the Death Valley. Mining started happening after the year 1880.

Properties of Borax

Borox has a few distinctive chemical and physical properties. Both properties of Borox are discussed below.

Chemical Properties

Borax is highly flammable as well as the colour of its flame is yellow-green. It has a high solubility in ethylene glycol and a low level of solubility in acetone. Borax gets easily transformed into boric acid by reacting with acids. The reaction is −


It reacts with sodium hydroxide. The reaction is −

$$\mathrm{ Na_2B_4O_7 + 7H_2O + 2NaOH\:\rightarrow\:4Na[B(OH)_4] }$$

Physical Properties

Borax is a white colour or colourless solid compound that is easily soluble in Aquas. The molar mass of borax is 202.22 when in an anhydrous state and 381.38 when in a decahydrate state. It has a density of 2.4g/cm3 and 1.73 g/cm3 in the anhydrous and decahydrate state respectively. Borax has a melting point of 743°C in an anhydrous state and 75°C in a decahydrate state. The boiling point of its anhydrous state is 1575°C.

Borax and Boron

Figure 2: Borax and Boric acid

Borax and boric acid both are made from boron. Borax is a type of salt that helps to create boric acid. It is a type of natural mineral that is present in the mines. It can be collected from evaporating deposits. Boric acid (H3BO3) is the purified form of borax. Borax and boric acid both can be used for insect control and creating slime purposes.

Uses of Borax

Borax has various useful applications in the modern world and different industries. Some of the major uses are −

  • Borax can be used as an alkali by photographic developers.

  • It is a widely used compound for metallurgy.

  • It can be used for food decoration purposes by using it as a texturing agent.

  • It can be used to kill fungi for its antifungal properties. It helps to cure different types of foot infections due to this quality.

  • It helps to cure thrush which is a bacterial infection that happens to horses.

  • It helps to treat timber and other wood products that are infected by woodworms.

  • Some detergents and cosmetic products also contain borax.

  • It can be also used as a flame retardant.

  • Borax can be used both as an insecticide and as a fertilizer.

  • Borax is used for vitamin supplement production. It is an important chemical substance that is required in the body.

  • It is used in the forge welding process widely by blacksmiths.

  • It can be also used as a preservative in taxidermy.

  • It is used in swimming pools to maintain their pH level.

  • This compound can be to create teeth bleaching products and enamel glazes.

  • Borax gets used in glass, ceramics and pottery-making purposes.

Effects of Borax

The sodium tetraborate decahydrate form of borax is not acutely toxic and U.S EPA stated it is a moderately safe chemical compound in the year 2006. Following are some benefits caused by the use of borax.

  • Borax helps to prevent arthritis.

  • It can be helpful for the healing of sore tongues and swollen mouths & throats.

  • It helps to cure swollen red eye.

  • It cures urinary infections and menstrual problems. In addition, it helps to deal with any sort of womb inflammation.

  • It increases both male and female libido.

  • It helps in cancer treatment.

However, borax has some health risks as well. Long-time exposure to borax can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea. Long-time exposure can also cause infertility and cancer, problems that can be treated only by the measured exposure to borax.


Borax is a water colour compound and it is high soluble in water. The main chemical element of borax is boron that is denoted as the symbol B in the periodic table. The atomic number and atomic weight of boron are 5 and 10.81 amu respectively. Borax or also known as Sodium tetraborate is very useful to prevent fungus due to its antifungal properties.


Q1. Is borax a base or an acid?

Ans. Borax is a type of weak base mostly used for buffer solutions and photographic developments. Boric acid gets subtracted from borax with the help of various strong acid reactions.

Q2. What is the pH level of borax?

Ans. Borax is also known as sodium tetraborate decahydrate that hydrolyses to boric acid and OH- ions when it is dissolved into the water. Therefore, its pH is about 9.13.

Q3. Is borax and baking soda the same?

Ans. Borax and baking soda are not the same. Borax is known as sodium tetraborate whereas baking soda is known as sodium bicarbonate. The pH of baking soda is 8.

Updated on: 14-Apr-2023


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