What is Borax?

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral deposit produced by the repeated evaporation of lakes and riverbeds. The term Borax loosely refers to several different chemical compounds based around the Sodium Tetraborate structure with varying number of water molecules attached to it. The most commonly occurring Borax compounds are: Borax Anhydrous (Anhydrous means “without water”), Borax Pentahydrate (Pentahydrate means 5 water molecules), Borax Decahydrate (Decahydrate means 10 water molecules). An example of the Borate anion structure which bonds ionically to Sodium (Na) and any water molecules is shown to the right.

Borax Properties

Borax (in any form) is a white crystalline solid at room temperature and is chemically stable under normal storage conditions; Borax Decahydrate has a molar mass of 381.38, its melting point is 1016 Kelvin (743 C) and its boiling point is 1848 Kelvin (1575 C). The solubility of Borax increases with water temperature; at 0C water temperature Borax will dissolve to produce a maximum % by weight saturated solution of 1.99% in contrast at 100C water temperature this increases to 65.64%. When dissolved in water Borax hydrolyses to produce a mildly alkaline solution which maintains a constant pH level.

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