Posted by Madhu
Although the names boron and borax sound nearly similar, they are different from each other according to the chemical nature. Let us discuss more details on them.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Boron
3. What is Borax
4. Side by Side Comparison – Boron vs Borax in Tabular Form
What is Boron?
Boron is a chemical element having the symbol B and atomic number 5. Its abundance in the earth’s crust is very low, and it is a trace element in the solar system as well. It is a metalloid and most of the times, and it does not naturally occur. Moreover, boron is in the group 13 and period 2 of the periodic table. Therefore, it is the first member of the p Block. This is because it has a single electron in the 2p orbital. At standard pressure and temperature, it exists as a solid. The melting point and boiling point are 2076°C and 3927°C respectively.
Figure 01: Boron Molecular Structures
Boron can form molecular networks similar to carbon. These structures have covalent bonds between boron atoms. These structures are the allotropes of boron. The chemical behavior of this element resembles silicon. Crystalline boron is highly unreactive; thus it does not react with HF or HCl upon heating. Moreover, boron forms oxides, sulfides, nitrides and halides with its most common oxidation state; +3 oxidation state.
What is Borax?
Borax is an inorganic compound having the chemical formula Na2B4O7·10H2O. It is a salt of boric acid. It exists as a white solid consist of soft, colorless crystals. These crystals are water soluble. Usually, this compound exists as the decahydrate form. The IUPAC name of this compound is Sodium tetraborate decahydrate. The molar mass of the decahydrate form is 381.4 g/mol. The melting point and boiling points are 743°C and 1,575°C respectively.
Figure 02: Borax Crystals
The name borax refers to a collection of compounds which includes anhydrous and hydrated forms of borax. Ex: pentahydrate form, decahydrate form. It reacts with HCl acid forming boric acid.
Na2B4O7·10H2O + 2 HCl → 4 H3BO3 + 2 NaCl + 5 H2O
This compound naturally occurs in evaporite deposits; these deposits form due to repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes. We can refine this compound via recrystallization. In addition to that, this compound is useful as a cleaning agent, to make buffers, as a source of borate ions to act as a co-complexing agent, etc.
What is the Difference between Boron and Borax?
Boron is a chemical element having the symbol B and atomic number 5 while Borax is an inorganic compound having the chemical formula Na2B4O7·10H2O. Therefore, the key difference is that the boron is a chemical element whereas borax is a chemical compound. Moreover, the melting point and boiling points of boron are 2076°C and 3927°C respectively. On the other hand, the melting point and boiling points of borax are 743°C and 1,575°C respectively. The below infographic presents more details on the difference between boron and borax.
Summary –Boron vs Borax
Borax is a compound of boron. However, they are very different from each other in the chemical nature. The key difference between boron and borax is that the boron is a chemical element whereas the borax is a chemical compound.