Borax Versus Boric Acid
Borax and boric acid are chemical compounds that contain the boron element. The chemical name of Borax is sodium tetraborate decahydrate, and the molecular formula is B4Na2O7 • 10H2O. The molecular formula of boric acid is BH3O3. There are many similarities between borax and boric acids such as appearance, uses, and toxicity, and even some physical properties.
Borax and boric acid are supplied as toilets, colourless, transparent crystals or white granules or powder.
Neither borax nor boric acid is combustible. The melting point of the borax is 75 degrees C (167 degrees F), and the boiling point is 320 degrees C (608 degrees F). The melting point of boric acid is 169 degrees C (336 degrees F), and the boiling point is 300 degrees C (572 degrees F). It is possible to dissolve 6 g of borax in 100 mL of water at 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) and 4.7 g of boric acid in 100 mL of water at 20 degrees C (68 degrees F). Borax is also soluble in glycerol, but it is not soluble in ethanol or isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol). Boric acid is soluble in ammonia, acetone, ethanol, methanol and glycerol. The pH of a 0.1 molar solution of boric acid is 5.1.
Acute exposure to borax or boric acid due to ingestion or absorption through injured or worn skin can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, a fall in body temperature, rash, headache, restlessness, weakness, kidney damage, circulatory collapse, shock, and death. Chronic borax or boric acid exposure due to ingestion, dermal absorption or absorption through the mucous membranes can cause loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, hair loss, convulsions, and anaemia.
It is estimated that ingestion of 15 to 20 g of borax can be fatal. Ingestion of 5 to 15 g of boric acid can also be fatal. Within the European Union, borax and boric acid are considered potential reproductive toxins that can impair fertility and cause fetal harm.
Borax occurs in nature, such as natural borate sodium, colemanite and tourmaline minerals, which are extracted and then refined into pure borax. Boric acid occurs in nature as the sassolite mineral.
Borax is used to artificially add wood, to make fire-resistant fabrics and wood, to prepare welding, enamels and glazed, to cure and preserve skins, in the manufacture of glass, cleaning products, as a corrosion inhibitor in antifreeze, in adhesives, in metal alloys and to prevent mildew in citrus fruits.
Boric acid is used to make water-resistant wood, in the manufacture of cement, as a water-cooling nuclear reactor additive, such as insecticide, as a preservative, in flow welding, to impregnate wicks, in soap making, In the heat-resistant glass, in heat-resistant glass and in processes of manufacture of other boron compounds.