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What is borax: In the UK, Borax also called sodium tetraborate decahydrate, is sold as a naturally occurring mineral compound best known as a laundry booster and water softener. Borax is also excellent as a multi-purpose household cleaner with many uses throughout the house including craft projects.
Although it has numerous industrial uses, in the home borax is used as a natural laundry booster, for cleaning, fungicide, preservative, insecticide (ants, fleas etc), disinfectant, desiccant, and ingredient in making "slime". Borax crystals are odourless, whitish and alkaline. Borax is not flammable and is not reactive. It can be mixed with most other cleaning agents, including chlorine bleach.
Please Note: This product has been reclassified by the ECHA as Reprotoxic Category 2 and as such is not available to the general public. Borax can only be purchased by Professionals and by trade and business users or for scientific research.
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Borax has many chemical properties that contribute to its cleaning power. Borax and other borates clean and bleach by converting some water molecules to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). This reaction is more favorable in hotter water. The pH of borax is about 9.5, so it produces a basic solution in water, thereby increasing the effectiveness of bleach and other cleaners. In other chemical reactions, borax acts as a buffer, maintaining a stable pH needed to maintain cleansing chemical reactions. The boron, salt, and/or oxygen of boron inhibit the metabolic processes of many organisms. This characteristic allows borax to disinfect and kill unwanted pests. Borates bonds with other particles to keep ingredients dispersed evenly in a mixture, which maximizes the surface area of active particles to enhance cleaning power.
Even though it best known as a laundry booster, borax does much more, and once you discover how many things it is good for, you will want to keep a box handy. Here are just some of the everyday tasks it can handle:
Cleaning with borax
Borax to prevent brown heart in turnips
Borax is used to protect turnips against brown heart. it should be applied as a solution of 15g per litre of water and applied at a rate of 1 litre per 10 sq m.
Borax in cosmetics
Borax is used in many areas including cosmetics and toiletries. It is also used as a crosslinking agent to emulsify waxes and other paraffins used as a base for lotions, creams and ointments. How to prepare an emulsion: heat the oils in a double boiler. Dissolve the borax in hot water. Add the borax solution slowly to the hot oil, constantly stirring in one direction. Keep stirring until the creamy white emulsion has formed.
Borax as a buffering agent
Dissolved in water, Borax hydrolyzes to give a mildly alkaline solution and can be used to neutralise acids. It can be used in combination with strong alkilies to produce chemical compounds of lower pH. The relatively constant pH of Borax (approx pH 9.2) Dedahydrate solutions makes it an excellent buffering agent.
Borax in adhesives
Borax Decahydrate is part of the starch adhesive formulation for corrugated paper and paperboard, and is a peptising agent in the manufacture of casein-based and dextrin-based adhesives. It greatly improves the tack and green strength of the adhesive by crosslinking conjugated hydroxyl groups.
Borax in metallurgy
Borax Decahydrate has the ability to dissolve metal oxides and is exploited in the recovery of metals such as brass, copper, lead and zinc from scrap or smelting slag. In Iron metallurgy, Borax Decahydrate is used as a flux to prevent oxidation at the surface of the molten iron. In other metal working processes like welding, brazing, and soldering, Borax is used to cover the metal surfaces. This prevents any oxidation occuring by excuding air and moisture contact. It also can be used as a cleaning agent.
A mixture of borax and ammonium chloride is used as a flux when welding iron and steel. It lowers the melting point of the unwanted iron oxide, scale, allowing it to run off. Borax is also used mixed with water as a flux when soldering jewellery metals such as gold or silver. It allows the molten solder to flow evenly over the joint in question. Borax is also a good flux for "pre-tinning" tungsten with zinc – making the tungsten soft-solderable. Borax is often used as a flux for forge welding.
Borax for corrosion prevention
Borax finds many uses as a corrosion inhibitor in aqueous sytems as it can prevent oxidation of ferrous / Iron metals. Typical applications are in engine coolants, antifreezes and water treatments. Borax is highly soluble in MEG / ethylene glycol and can neutralise acids that are produced from the decomposition of the MEG prevention acidic corrosion of the metal surface.
Other industrial uses for borax
Borax is used: In the extraction of gold from metals. As a flame retardant and for putting out small fires without the risks of flare-up. A carrier for herbicides. As a stbiliser and bonding agent for specialist abrasives. As a neutraliser and carrier in the production of metal wire.
To make a Borax solution with a maximum Boron content of 300mg/Kg
Borax contains 11.3% boron which equates to 113mg of boron in 1g of Borax. To make a 1 litre of borax solution ensuring that the maximum boron concentration does not excess 300mg per Kg would allow for a maximum of 2.65g of Borax in 1 Litre of water.
Health & Safety:
PLEASE NOTE: This product is not for human or animal consumption.
Dissolve 1 part borax in 3 parts of cold water. For example to make 75ml of solution mix 25g in 75ml water.
People have been using balls as toys for a long time, but the bouncy ball is a more recent innovation. Bouncy balls were originally made of natural rubber, though now bouncy balls can be made of plastics and other polymers or even treated leather. You can use chemistry to make your own bouncy ball. Once you understand the basic technique, you can alter the recipe for the ball to see how the chemical composition affects the bounciness of the ball, as well as other characteristics.
The bouncy ball in this activity is made from a polymer. Polymers are molecules made up of repeating chemical units. Glue contains the polymer polyvinyl acetate (PVA), which cross-links to itself when reacted with borax. Please Note that children must not be allowed to touch Borax.
Using the following instructions you can dry flowers with borax to make flower arrangements.
With a few basic ingredients one make a homemade Silly Putty solution out of white glue and Borax. Not only is this an enjoyable activity, but one can also learn a lesson about polymer materials and how molecules work in polymers. Please Note that children must not be allowed to touch Borax.
1. Pour 240ml of warm water into a medium-size jar, add 1 tbsp. of borax and gently shake it up until powder dissolves. Label the jar for storage identity and future use. Set aside until ready for use.
2. Put 1 tsp. of water into a litre size, zipper bag along with 1 tbsp. of glue. Add a drop of food colouring to the mix to make your homemade Silly Putty colourful
3. Add 1 tbsp. of borax mixture to the glue and water. Zip the bag shut and squeeze the ingredients between your fingers until it forms a putty-like substance.
4. Remove from the bag after two minutes, squeeze it with your hands to desired consistency and enjoy the new Silly Putty.
5. Place the homemade silly putty in a clean zipper bag and store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. Make a new batch from the stored Borax and water mixture as often as you like.