Borates in chemistry are chemical compounds containing boron bonded to three oxygen atoms written as B(OR)3. In B(OR)4- anions, this number increases to four.
The borate ion is BO33-. it forms salts with metallic elements. Boron found in nature is commonly as a borate mineral. Boron is also found combined with silicate to form complex borosilicate minerals such as the tourmalines.
Borate exists in many forms. In acid and near-neutral conditions, it is boric acid, commonly written as H3BO3 but more correctly B(OH)3. The pKa of boric acid is 9.14 at 25C. Boric acid does not dissociate in aqueous solution, but is acidic due to its interaction with water molecules, forming tetrahydroxyborate:
Lithium borate can be used in the laboratory as buffer for gel electrophoresis of DNA and RNA. It has a lower conductivity, produces crisper resolution, and can be run at higher speeds than can gels made from TBE or TAE (5-50V/cm as compared to 5-10V/cm). At a given voltage, the heat generation and thus the gel temperature is much lower than with TBE/TAE buffers, therefore the voltage can be increased to speed up electrophoresis so that a gel run takes only a fraction of the usual time. Downstream applications, such as isolation of DNA from a gel slice or Southern blot analysis, work as expected with lithium boric acid gels. Lithium borate is also an ingredient for use in making glasses and ceramics.
Inhalation: Causes irritation to the respiratory tract. Symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath. Volatile hydrides are particularly dangerous because of their ease of entry into the body and their ability to destroy red blood cells. Inhalation may result in symptoms and problems similar to ingestion.
Ingestion: Boron compounds can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscular spasms, dullness, lethargy, circulatory depression, central nervous system depression, shock, kidney damage, coma, and death.
Skin Contact: Causes irritation to skin. Symptoms include redness, itching, and pain. May cause burns to skin tissue upon contact.
Eye Contact: Causes irritation, redness, and pain. May cause burns.
Chronic Exposure: Prolonged or repeated ingestion or skin absorption of boron compounds may cause anorexia, weight loss, vomiting, mild diarrhea, skin rash, convulsions, and anemia.
Borax (from Persian burah), also called sodium borate, or sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. It is usually a white powder consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve easily in water.
Borax has a wide variety of uses. It is a component of many detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. It is also used to make buffer solutions in biochemistry, as a fire retardant, as an anti-fungal compound for fiberglass, as an insecticide, as a flux in metallurgy, and as a precursor for other boron compounds.
The term borax is used for a number of closely related minerals or chemical compounds that differ in their crystal water content, but usually refers to the decahydrate. Commercially sold borax is usually partially dehydrated.