Many people think of borax as a cleaner as it was advertised as the key ingredient in many products via television commercials. Borax is indeed an essential part of cleaning products from laundry detergent to teeth cleaning products but its uses are much more. First, borax has several names, disodium tetraborate, sodium borate, and sodium tetraborate. From boric acid it is a mineral, compound, and salt of boric. This is why it’s used in so many products. It is colorless and comes in the form of crystals. It dissolves in water very easily so it’s perfect for the uses it is found in. The list of uses are numerous but first more of a look at its structure.
First discovered by Tibetans in dry lake beds nearby it was then exported around the known world thanks to the famous Silk Road. It’s an Arabic word as borax had been exported to the region from Tibet as mentioned earlier. It really took on and spread as an essential mineral through the old world.
Its main benefit is that it co-complexes with other agents via its source of borate. This creates complex ions used in numerous processes. You may find borate in just about half the products in your home. From cleaning products to health related borax is one of the minerals that has greatly changed civilization for centuries.
To find borax one need only go to evaporite deposits that are created repeat evaporation of oly seasonal lakes. California is a great location for borax as are Turkey and the Atacama Desert in Chile. Some new deposites reportedly have been found in Romania. The uses of borax keep increasing and searching for the mineral has gotten easier so new deposits will eventually be found. Synthetic borax is produced by using other boron compounds.
Borax’s chemisty is expressed as B4O5(OH)4]2-. You have this expression as borax is part of a group of closely related chemical compounds and minerals designated by their crystal water content configuration. Borax, however is generally expressed as Na2B4O7.10H2O. It has two four-coordinate boron atoms and three coordinate boron atoms. This is why it is more likely to be described and formulated as Na2[B4O5(OH)4].8H2O.
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Old timers will remember how popular the name borax became via the television and radio commercials in the United States called the “20 Mule Borax Team”. These commercials were so popular that people still sing the theme songs today.