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Boric Acid

What is boric acid powder?

Boric acid or Boric Powder, also called hydrogen borate or orthoboric acid is a white crystalline solid with the chemical formula of H3BO3. It is found in minerals and volcanic water or the end product of hydrolysis of boron halides or hydrides. Boric powder is commonly prepared by acidifying and heating borax solution in chemistry. It is commonly used as an antiseptic, insecticide, neutron absorber in the nuclear power generation process

Boric acid structure

Boric acid (H3BO3) Structure, Properties, Preparation, and Chemical uses

Each acid molecule contains boron-hydrogen chemical bond. The boron atom is the central atom (sp2 hybridized) liked with three hydroxyl groups. The overall molecular geometry of H3BO3 is the trigonal planner. The shining white polymeric crystals structure of boric acid contains B(OH)3 units linked with infinite hexagonal layers due to hydrogen bonding.

Acidity of boric acid

The water solution of the boric acid molecule shows weak acid properties (pH scale = 9.2). It does not use hydrogen ions to show an acidic character. It is a Lewis acid that accepting electron pairs from the hydroxyl ion.

The conductance in an aqueous solution of H3BO3 is very weak. It can be is enhanced by the addition of alcohol like ethanol, mannitol, glycerol, etc. For acid base titration, we added alcohol to increasing acidity then titrated by a base solution using phenolphthalein as an indicator. This reaction is the basis of the borax phenolphthalein test of glycerol in learning chemistry.

Boric acid preparation

It is commonly obtained by boiling borax with acids then crystallizing. The acid is also produced during the hydrolysis reaction of boron halides.

Na2B4O7(OH)4 + 2HCl + 3H2O → 4H3BO3 + 2NaCl
BCl3 + 3H2O → H3BO3 + 3HCl

Chemical properties of H3BO3

Dilute aqueous boric acid solution contains mononuclear compounds but various polymeric ions formed in concentrated chemical solution depending on the pH scale, concentration, and temperature. At 100°C, the acid changed to metaboric acid (HBO2), at 140°C to pyroboric acid. Finally, at a higher temperature, it is converted to boron trioxide (B2O3).

Chemical reactions

  • H3BO3 reacts with ethyl alcohol or ethanol in the presence of sulfuric acid to form alkyl or ethyl borate. It is used for quantitative chemical analysis of borates.
  • On fusion with metal oxides colored borate glasses are formed.
  • On fusion with NH4HF2 ultimately BF3 is obtained. It acts as a strong acid in anhydrous sulfuric or nitric acid solution.
  • The reaction of H3BO3 with sodium peroxide or hydrogen peroxide gives sodium or mono peroxo-borates. The structure of the peroxoborate ion, [B2(O2)2(OH)4]-2 contains sp3 hybridized boron atoms. The tetrahedral sp3 hybridized orbitals of boron linked by bridging μ-peroxo groups.

Boric acid powder uses

  • Boron and boric acid are extensively used in the modern age as reinforcement materials in space shuttles, aircraft, and the textile industry. It is also used for making borosilicate glasses.
  • For the preparation of enamels of our teeth, we use shining H3BO3 and borax powder.
  • Over a hundred years, boric acid has been used for the treatment of vaginal suppositories or infections. It is commonly used by physicians and patients as an antiseptic, antibacterial in medicine, or treatment of candidiasis and BV.
  • Sodium perborate which is prepared from H3BO3 uses for detergent preparation in the chemical industry.
  • Boron carbides and metal borides are extensively used as neutrons shielding chemicals and control rods in nuclear power plants.
  • We used boric acid in the carrom board, in the preservation of food grains like wheat and rice from the insecticides mainly cockroaches.