Boric Acid: Overview

Boric acid is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula H3BO3. It is a weak acid with antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties; which was first prepared from borax by Wilhelm Homberg in the year 1702. Boric acid appears a colorless crystal or white powdery substance under standard conditions, and shows complete solubility in water, and doesn’t have any characteristics odor.

Boric acid is one of the most commonly used borates among others. It is widely used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and nutritional industries, along with its predominant use in the production of wood preservatives and glass manufacturing. The growing use of boric acid has led to an increase in its market size which is estimated to reach $8.5 billion by the end of 2028.

Key players of the boric acid market include:

  • 3M
  • BASF
  • Avantor Performance Materials
  • Eti Maden
  • Gujarat Boron Derivatives

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What are the natural sources of boric acid?

Boric acid is a naturally occurring chemical compound that forms the constituent of minerals namely borax, boracite, borontrocaicite, and colemanite. It is naturally found in certain volcanic districts such as The Lipari Islands, Tuscany, and Nevada; it is called saaolite when it occurs as a mineral. Boric acid can be found in salt, water, seawater, plants, and almost all fruits. It is a water-soluble chemical that dissolves completely in water and percolates through the soil; it is found to reach even the ground water under certain conditions of pressure and temperature.

Preparation of boric acid

Boric acid is commonly prepared by reacting borax with any mineral acid such as hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, or nitric acid.

Na2B4O7.10H2O + 2HCl → 4H3BO3 + 5H2O + 2NaCl

Borax                         Boric acid                Salt

Boric acid can also be prepared from the hydrolysis of boron trihalides and diborane.

BX3 + 3 H2O → B(OH)3 + 3 HX (X = Cl, Br, I)

Trihalides        Boric acid        Mineral acid

B2H6 + 6 H2O → 2 B(OH)3 + 6 H2

Diborane              Boric acid

What is boric acid made of?

Boric acid (H3BO3) is a Lewis acid that four atoms of oxygen, one atom of boron, and three atoms of hydrogen. Each boric acid molecule contains boron-oxygen single bonds; the boron atom occupies a central position and linked to three hydroxide groups, give the overall molecular geometry a trigonal planar structure.

Medical Uses of Boric Acid

Boric acid has a wide range of medical applications, some of them include:

  • It is used as an antiseptic to treat minor cuts and burns
  • The antibacterial properties of boric acid have made them popular for the treatment of acne
  • A highly diluted solution of boric acid is used as an eyewash
  • It is used in medical dressings and salves
  • Powdered boric acid is sprinkled into socks and shoes to prevent a condition called tinea pedis, commonly referred to as athlete’s feet
  • Vaginal boric acid is used to restore the vaginal acidity and balancing vaginal bacteria

It is important to consult the doctor before using boric acid for medical purposes; self-medication is harmful. Inform your doctor about all your medical conditions, allergies, and also the medicines you are currently taking. Follow all directions suggested by the doctor and read the medicine label and package thoroughly before use.

In addition to medical use, boric acid is commonly used in:

  • Electroplating
  • Production of glass for LCD displays
  • Manufacturing of monofilament fiberglass
  • Fire retarding agent
  • Manufacturing of ramming mass
  • Used to neutralize hydrochloric acid
  • Used for welding flux
  • Used to prevent or clear the rots in timber
  • Used in nuclear plants as a neutron poison
  • Used as an insecticide

Boric Acid Safe for Humans?

Boric acid is an important chemical compound that offers a wide range of industrial and medicinal applications. But it is found to be toxic if directly consumed or inhaled in larger quantities. It is also proved to severely damage the kidney if the person has prolonged exposure to boric acid. It is important to use care while dealing with it.

First-aid measures

Eye contact: In the event of contact with eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of cold water, also under the eyelids, for at least 15 minutes. Get medical attention.

Skin contact: When the chemical is exposed to skin, wash off immediately with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. Get medical attention if any symptoms occur.

Inhalation: Immediately move the person to fresh air, and get medical help if required. Avoid using the mouth-to-mouth method if the victim has ingested or inhaled the substance; give artificial respiration using a pocket mask equipped with a one-way valve or other proper respiratory medical device. If symptoms persist, seek medical help.

Ingestion: Ingestion can be harmful; hence, it is suggested to call the doctor immediately. Do NOT induce vomiting.

Where to buy Boric Acid?

Boric acid can be easily purchased from any chemical manufacturer, supplier, or dealer in India. Whether you are looking for a smaller quantity or have a bulk requirement, you can easily get it from any manufacturer, supplier, or dealer. This is the trend that is being followed from the beginning and dominated the way we buy or sell chemicals. Indian chemical industry is the largest industry in the world and recognized as the 7th largest producer of chemicals in the world and the 3rd largest producer in Asia. With such a huge and diversified market, the industry still follows the outdated trend of chemical procurement. The current trend, which is popularly followed, is a tedious process; it involves challenges of finding a genuine seller, getting the required quantity, sometimes compromising on the purity, invest in the transportation cost if the seller is not from the nearby location, and the list goes on. The incorporation of digitization has eased the chemical process and made the entire process simple and efficient.

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