Application of Boron and Borates

An essential part of industry—and everyday life

As an essential element, boron’s unique properties make it the best choice for a wealth of applications across multiple industries. From auto glass to lumber, insulation to agriculture—refined boron and borates from U.S. Borax are indispensable to many of the products we depend on for modern living.

Applications of Borax

Boron in Agriculture

To meet the challenges of global population growth, we must optimize our use of agricultural resources, science, and technology. More efficient, effective use of nutrients holds promise for those striving to grow the greatest yield of high-quality food on the limited land available. Research is discovering that micronutrients—like boron—play a key role in protecting soil health, supporting sustainable farming, and increasing both the nutrition and yield of crops.

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Boron in Wood Protection and Biocides

One of the most promising applications of borates today is in the treatment and protection of wood and wood products. Wood construction offers a multitude of benefits, but its use has traditionally been limited in areas that face high humidity, fungi, and pests like the Formosan subterranean termite.

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Borosilicate glass

Boron in Glass and Fiberglass

From cell phones to solar energy arrays, borosilicate glass—made with silica and boron trioxide—is a primary use of boron and borates. Heat resistant, chemical resistant, scratch and shock resistant, this glass provides strength and durability across a range of products we use every day in our homes, offices, cars, and energy fields.

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More Applications of Boron and Borates

Adhesives, Caulks, and Sealants

Borates' ability to affect alkalinity and its chemical cross-linking capabilities make them an excellent component of starch adhesives and a peptizing agent in the manufacture of casein- and dextrin-based adhesives. Read More

Batteries and Capacitors

Borates are components in the electrolyte of lithium ion batteries and supercapacitors and have been investigated in the surface treatment of graphite anodes for lithium ion batteries. Read More

Ceramics, Enamels, and Glazes

Borates can be incorporated into frits—glassy, silica-rich materials that are used in the manufacture of glazes and enamels—to make them insoluble and to impart benefits such as the reduction of glass viscosity. This improves fit, luster, durability, and chemical resistance. Read More

Cleaners and Detergents

For decades, borates have been a primary source of cleaning power. By enhancing stain removal and bleaching capabilities, stabilizing enzymes, buffering alkalinity, softening water, and boosting surfactant performance, borates’ cleaning uses extend beyond clothing and into the industrial workplace. Read More

Industrial Fluids and Lubricants

Borates’ anticorrosive, antimicrobial, and pH-balancing capabilities make them useful components in industrial fluid formulations. From cleaning compounds to gear lubricants to metallurgy, borates keep numerous manufacturing processes running smoothly. Read More

Insulation and Polymers

Insulation fiberglass (aka glass wool) benefits from borates’ ability to absorb infrared light, significantly increasing the performance of the insulation. But borates do more than improve insulation’s performance and safety—they also improve its manufacturing process. Borates’ fire-retardant properties are also put to good use in cellulosic insulation products. Read More

Metals and Gold

Borates anticorrosive capabilities help protect ferrous metals from oxidation and are excellent fluxes. In refractories, borates help stabilize and extend the useful life of bonded firebricks and castables. Borates help harden steel and are used in the production of numerous alloys, amorphous metals, and rare-earth magnets, such as those used in wind power turbines. And, boron-hardened steel improves the safety of automobile frames. Read More

Nuclear Energy

Borates play a key role in the operation of nuclear power plants and are essential in the safety and control of pressurized water reactors (PWRs). Boron carbide is also used in control rods, and borates are used as corrosion inhibitors and as a key safety feature of the emergency core cooling system. Read More

Oil and Gas Production

Borates’ cross-linking capabilities make them useful in the oil and gas industry. High-viscosity oil-well fluids made with borates and other substances can help in oil recovery. Read More

Other Applications

Borate solutions are an important component in a multitude of other products, including fire-resistant coatings, personal care products, patented partial borate autocausticizing (PBAC) technology, automotives, leather, gypsum board, wires, dyed nylon carpets, and water-treatment chemicals. Read More

As you can see, boron and borates are amazing substances, useful across a vast range of applications. If you have questions that aren’t answered here or on our individual Applications pages, you can visit our list of frequently asked questions (FAQ).

U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 500 customers with more than 1,700 delivery locations globally. We supply 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles.  Learn more about Rio Tinto

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