Frequently Asked Questions

With the applications and benefits of borates and 20 Mule Team® Borax products spanning a dozen industries and scores of products, questions are only natural. Here, you’ll find answers to some of the queries we hear most often.

Don’t see your question below? Contact us.

Boron/Borate Chemistry and Research

Boron/Borate Usage

U.S. Borax Company and History

Boron/Borate Products/Customers

General/Consumer Questions

Boron/Borate Chemistry and Research

What is boron?
Boron is an element symbolized as B on the periodic table. It has the atomic number 5. Boron is primarily used in chemical compounds including boric acid, borax, and boric oxide.
Is boron a liquid?
Boron is a solid and is classified as a metalloid element (has properties of both metals and non-metals). Elemental boron is never found free in nature. It occurs naturally in minerals that contain boron and oxygen.
What are the boric acid chemical properties?
Boric acid is found abundantly in nature, especially in volcanic areas, such as Italian hot springs. Boric acid’s chemical formula is H3BO3. It is a weak monobasic acid. It dissolves in boiling water and forms metaboric acid when heated to temperatures higher than 170°C.
What are some other names for borax?
Borax is also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, and disodium tetraborate.
How can I acquire lab samples of your products?
To request a sample, please fill out our sample request form.
I am an agronomist or agricultural consultant looking for information on the use of boron or borates for crop health. Can you help me?
Yes, we have a wealth of information on the agriculture uses of boron at: https://agriculture.borax.com/. Please contact our global agriculture team members with your questions.

Boron/Borate Usage

What are some boron oxide uses?

Boron oxide is used in the following applications:

Does fiberglass contain boron?
Not all fiberglass contains boron, but most of it does. Boron is added to fiberglass to increase its strength. For more information, read Boric Oxide for Insulation Fiberglass.
What are the benefits of boron in laundry detergent?

Borates in laundry detergent help:

  • Improve cleaning action
  • Prevent dirt from redepositing on clothes
  • Control pH
  • Safely and effectively bleach stains

For more information, read Boron in Cleaners and Detergents.

U.S. Borax Company and History

How long has U.S. Borax been in business?
In 1872, borate deposits were discovered in California’s Death Valley. Several companies sprung up in the region to mine borates. By 1890, they were mostly consolidated into the Pacific Coast Borax Company. In 1956, the Pacific Borax Company merged with the United States Potash Corporation to form U.S. Borax.
Is U.S. Borax an independent company?
U.S. Borax was acquired by Rio Tinto Materials in 1967. The new group, called Rio Tinto Borax, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto Group.
Where do you get the borates you use in your products?
We operate California’s largest open pit mine in Boron, California.
Can I visit the U.S. Borax mine?
The mine in Boron, California is closed to the general public. But, the Borax Visitor Center is open (and free to visit), seven days a week, excluding major U.S. holidays. Learn more and plan your visit.
Can I buy products directly from U.S. Borax?
Please contact your local sales representative for more information about purchasing our products through us or one of our distributors.
Are you hiring? Where can I apply to work for U.S. Borax?
As a division of Rio Tinto, U.S. Borax has a number of positions if you are looking for a career that makes a difference. Learn more about joining the U.S. Borax team.

Boron/Borate Products/Customers

Where can I buy borax?
To buy large quantities of borax, please contact your local sales representatives.
Where can I get material safety data sheets or handling information for your products?
Search for safety data sheets [link to: http://sds.riotinto.com/search/rtm], or send us an email at rtm.msds@riotinto.com and tell us which product you’re using.
What U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approvals do you have for your products?
Send us an email at rtmproductstewardship@riotinto.com with details about your needs.
Where can I get boron cleaning products?
Boron can be found in a number of cleaning supplies available to the general public. One of the most recognizable is 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster.
Where can I find consumer products like 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster?
The Dial Corporation acquired U.S. Borax’s consumer products division in 1988 and can help you find these items in your area. You can visit their website at: www.20muleteamlaundry.com
Where can I find industrial cleaning products such as Boraxo Hand Soap?
The Dial Corporation manufactures and distributes these products and can help you find them in your area. You can visit their website at: www.dialprofessional.com
Where can I find Tim-bor Professional?
You can find more information about Tim-bor Professional on the Nisus Corporation’s website.
Can you help me register my borate-based product with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?
Send us an email at rtmproductstewardship@riotinto.com with details about your needs and interests.
What if something is wrong with my shipment?
  • For non-emergencies, contact Customer Service at (800) USBORAX (800-872-6729).
  • For emergencies, dial (800) 228-5635 extension 144.

General/Consumer Questions

Is borax or boric acid safe for home use, including crafts, food preservation, and personal care? What should I know about diverting water wash to my garden?
Please email us at rtmproductstewardship@riotinto.com with your specific application and information needs.
Can I use borates for food preservatives or for flea control?

Borax’s borate products are not intended for use in food applications and are labeled accordingly. Therefore, our borate products shall not be used as (or to manufacture) food additives or preservatives.

U.S. Borax does not sell any product into the borate/borax flea control or carpet application businesses. In keeping with our product stewardship commitment to our customers, we recommend against the use of borate products for carpet applications. These applications include boric acid, borax, or other borate-containing products intended for use on carpets as deodorizers or flea control agents.

These carpet-use patterns are different from all other borate product uses in that they present the opportunity for small children or pets to ingest borates directly from the carpets. It is not feasible to assess the extent of exposure to children and pets under all possible scenarios, due to the variety of parameters that determine exposure from carpets (e.g. variation in carpet type, borate product type, application method and rate, vacuum efficiency and frequency, and individual behavioral patterns of children or pets). Without adequate exposure information, U.S. Borax cannot determine the level of risk that may result from carpet-use patterns; therefore, we do not support the use of borate products for carpet flea control applications by anyone, especially consumers.

It should also be recognized that any compound used for the purpose of mitigating “pests” is considered to be a “pesticide” which is regulated by state and federal authorities (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Can I use borates for use as flame retardants, wood preservatives, insect/pest control, or agricultural end uses?
Send us an email at rtmproductstewardship@riotinto.com with details about your needs and interests.
Do you still make Twenty Mule Team hobby kits?
These model kits originated as a promotional program for 20 Mule Team Borax in 1954. Unfortunately, they have been discontinued.
How much is my historic Borax artifact worth?
While we’re proud of our heritage, we do not maintain records of the value of Borax posters, model kits, advertising, photography or other memorabilia.
Any other questions? Please contact us at minerals.communications@riotinto.com

Rio Tinto Borates is a global leader in the supply and science of borates - naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. Refined borates are essential nutrients for crops. We are 1,000 people serving 500 customers with over 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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