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Learn All About Borates


One name, more than 100 different minerals.

What are Borates?

Borates are naturally occurring minerals containing boron, the fifth element on the Periodic Table. Trace amounts exist in rock, soil, and water. Plants need borates to grow, and people need them as an important part of a healthy diet. Borates also serve as an essential ingredient in many everyday products.

The element boron does not exist by itself in nature. Rather, it combines with oxygen and other elements to form boric acid, or inorganic salts called borates. Despite the millions of tons of industrial borates mined, processed, and distributed around the world every year, far larger quantities of boron are transferred around the planet by way of natural forces. Rain, volcanic activity, condensation, and other atmospheric activities redistribute at least twice as much boron as all commercial practices combined.

  • Borates are added to swimming pool water to stabilize the pH, reduce chlorine use, and prevent the growth of algae.
  • Borates are found in almost all plants and fruits.

Where to Find Borates

Uses for Borates

Agriculture Boron is an essential micronutrient for plants and is vital to their growth and development. Plant pollination, seeding, and fruiting are not possible without sufficient boron. In areas of acute deficiency, borate fertilizers can increase crop yields by 30 to 40 percent.
Ceramics Borates have been an essential ingredient in ceramic and enamel glazes for centuries, integral to affixing glazes or enamels and enhancing their durability and luster. Borates are an essential mineral in ceramic tile bodies, allowing manufacturers to use a wider range of clays, heighten productivity, and decrease energy use.
Cleaning & Personal Care Products Borates are used to produce laundry detergents, household or industrial cleaners, and personal care products. Their unique properties enhance stain removal, whiten and brighten fabrics, and soften water. They also control bacteria and fungi in personal care products.  
Diet People absorb boron by eating vegetables and fruit and by drinking water. There is general agreement in the scientific community that boron is nutritionally important to maintain optimal health.
Fiberglass The largest single use of borates worldwide is as an ingredient in insulation fiberglass. Boron is also used in textile fiberglass, which is used in everything from circuit boards to surfboards. In all uses, borates act as a powerful flux to lower glass batch melting temperatures. They also control the relationship between temperature, viscosity, and surface tension to create durable fiberglass.
Flame-Proofing & Anti-Corrosives Combined with zinc, borates are used to retard flames and suppress smoke in polymers. They act as a flame retardant in cellulose insulation. Borates also interact with surfaces containing iron to form a coating that protects against corrosion. They are used as additives in products as diverse as antifreeze and aerosol cans.
Glass, Cosmetics, & Coatings Borates increase the mechanical strength of glass – from cathode ray tubes to cookware – and they are used in the production of ultra-thin LCD screens and ceramic tiles and glazes. In paints, adhesives, and cosmetics, borates bond with other particles to keep different ingredients evenly dispersed and control viscosity. Fireworks and film processing solutions also rely on borates.
Polymer Additives Zinc borates are used as a fire retardant in plastics and rubber applications. They also function as smoke and afterglow suppressants, anti-tracking agents, and can be used in polymers requiring high processing temperatures. Zinc borates can be found in polymers ranging from electrical parts and automobile interiors to wall coverings and carpeting.
Wood Treamtments Borate-treated wood is a safe and long-lasting method to protect homes and other structures from wood-destroying organisms. Borate-based preservatives are used to treat solid wood, engineered wood composites, and other building materials such as studs, plywood, joists, and rafters. Borates prevent fungal decay and are deadly to termites, carpenter ants, and roaches, but are safe for people, pets, and the environment.

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