Alternate Names: Sodium TetraBorate Decahydrate, Borax 10-hydrate, 10 Mol Borax, Neobor, Borax
Borax Decahydrate is the refined form of natural sodium borate. Composed of boric oxide (B2O3), sodium oxide, and water, it is a mild, alkaline salt, white and crystalline, with excellent buffering and fluxing properties. Borax Decahydrate is an important multifunctional source of B2O3 (e.g. frits), particularly for processes in which the simultaneous presence of sodium is beneficial.
Borax is available in large crystal, powder, and granular form, the latter being the most practical for ceramic use. Although the 10 molecules of water in the theoretical formula vary somewhat, they are the source of the designation "10 Mol Borax". The water content can vary with storage (it tends to loose water with time). Where precision is required, it is necessary to measure the water content just before use.
It begins to melt in its own water of crystallization at 60.8C. It is soluble in water, acids, glycol and other solvents. Almost all American borax comes from deposits of the crystalline precipitate mineral tincal in the Mohave Desert of California (Asian borax is called Tincal).
The solubility of borax normally disqualifies it for use in clay bodies and glazes (since during drying it will come to the surface with the water and be concentrated there). Actually, this phenomena can be used to advantage to make self glazing products like Egyptian Paste and it can produce a hardened surface in non-fired products. In addition, the migration issue during drying can be tolerated in some circumstances, borax can be employed in a traditional ceramic slip or glaze blend as a low-cost super-flux to produce a glaze or slip for low temperatures.
Rio Tinto Borax has many technical, granular and powder grades of this material. "20 Mule Team" borax is this material. It is also produced at the Bandirma Borax Plant in Turkey.
The two top clay bars contain 15% hydrous borax. At cone 06, a very low temperature, it has already melted and drained out of the bars, running down over the others as a glass.
Data Sheet Etibor
Data Sheet US Borax
|Oxides||P2O5 - Phosphorus Pentoxide|
|Oxides||B2O3 - Boric Oxide|
|Materials||Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate|
|Suppliers||ETI Holding A.S.|
|Hazards||Boron Compounds and Their Toxicity|
Generic materials are those with no brand name. Normally they are theoretical, the chemistry portrays what a specimen would be if it had no contamination. Generic materials are helpful in educational situations where students need to study material theory (later they graduate to dealing with real world materials). They are also helpful where the chemistry of an actual material is not known. Often the accuracy of calculations is sufficient using generic materials.
Materials that source Na2O, K2O, Li2O, CaO, MgO and other fluxes but are not feldspars or frits. Remember that materials can be flux sources but also perform many other roles. For example, talc is a flux in high temperature glazes, but a matting agent in low temperatures ones. It can also be a flux, a filler and an expansion increaser in bodies.