Molecular Structure of Borax

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Indiana University Molecular Structure Center
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Reciprocal Net: A Distributed Crystallography Network for Researchers, Students, and the General Public
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Data, Instructional Material, Interactive
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Borax was discovered 4000 years ago. It was first brought to Europe from Kashmir and Tibet. It is deposited by the evaporation of alkaline lakes, and today is mined in California, Nevada, and Tibet. The hydrated mineral is colorless and becomes chalky white during dehydration. It is water soluble, has a sweet alkaline taste, and is brittle. Borax has no toxic fumes; it is environmentally safe and should not be ingested. This chemical is an important source of boron containing compounds such as tincalconite and kernite, and is industrially important in the manufacturing of ceramics, paint, glass, and coated paper. It is also utilized as a disinfectant, insect repellent, water softener, and a detergent. The most common detergent brand is 20 Mule Team Borax.