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Boric acid, is also called hydrogen borate or boracic acid, orthoboric acid or acidum boricum. It is a weak acid of boron and is often used as an antiseptic, insecticide, flame retardant, neutron absorber, or precursor to other chemical compounds. It has the chemical formula B(OH)3, and exists as colorless crystals or white powder that dissolves in water. When occurring as a mineral, it is called sassolite.
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Boric acid may be prepared by reacting borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) with a mineral acid, such as hydrochloric acid:
Na2B4O7·10H2O + 2 HCl → 4 B(OH)3 + 2 NaCl + 5 H2O
It is also formed as a by-product of hydrolysis of boron trihalides and diborane:
B2H6 + 6 H2O → 2 B(OH)3 + 6 H2
BX3 + 3 H2O → B(OH)3 + 3 HX (X = Cl, Br, I)
Borates are particularly valuable in the production of technical glasses, where there is a requirement to lower or control thermal expansion or achieve chemical durability and neutrality. These glasses are made to fulfill very specific properties for a wide range of applications, including insulation fiberglass, glass ceramics, manufacture of composites (fiberglass reinforced plastics) and woven fabrics for electrical and fire / heat resistant applications, cooking and tableware, laboratory and process plant, lighting, sealing, pharmaceutical, optical, fire resistant glazing, borosilicate glass (need high B2O3), lighting glass, sealing glasses, neutral glasses (ampoules, vials, cosmetic containers, and vacuum flasks), and many other types of glasses.
Boric acid can be used to produce laundry care items or even industrial cleaner. It is often used as a suplement in detergent and soap and able to enhance stain removal and bleaching, stabilize enzyme, and act as an emulsify for waxes and oils.
In the production of leather, boric acid can be used to neutralize the lime before tanning.
In cosmetics and personal care products, boric acid is used in the formulation of a wide variety of product types including creams and lotions and bath, hair and skin products. Boric acid prevents or retards bacterial growth, and thus protects cosmetics and personal care products from spoilage. It is also used to control pH and to minimize the change in the pH of a solution when an acid or a base is added. Boric acid also helps to keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components. It is also used to alter the thickness of liquid cosmetics and personal care products.
The primary industrial use of boric acid is in the manufacture of monofilament fiberglass usually referred to as textile fiberglass. Textile fiberglass is used to reinforce plastics in applications that range from boats, to industrial piping to computer circuit boards.
Boric acid can be used as an antiseptic for minor burns or cuts and is sometimes used in dressings or salves. Boric acid is applied in a very dilute solution as an eye wash. As an antibacterial compound, boric acid can also be used as an acne treatment. It is also used as prevention of athlete's foot, by inserting powder in the socks or stockings.
Disinfectant and cleansing agents
In combination with its use as an insecticide, boric acid also prevents and destroys existing wet and dry rot in timbers. It can be used in combination with an ethylene glycol carrier to treat external wood against fungal and insect attack. Boric acid is added to salt in the curing of cattle hides, calfskins, and sheepskins. This helps to control bacteria development, and helps to control insects.