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Boron vs. Borax: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 14, 2024
Boron is a chemical element, while borax is a mineral compound containing boron.

Key Differences

Boron is a naturally occurring element found in the Earth's crust and various minerals. Borax, on the other hand, is a specific boron compound, also known as sodium borate, which is mined from evaporated lakes.
Boron is used in various industrial applications, including in fiberglass and ceramics. Borax is often used as a cleaning agent, antifungal, and an insecticide.
In agriculture, boron is vital for plant growth and is applied in trace amounts. Borax, due to its boron content, is sometimes used in small quantities as a micronutrient fertilizer.
Boron forms a range of compounds, each with unique properties. Borax is one of these compounds, recognizable for its crystalline structure and water solubility.
In the world of science, boron is of interest due to its unusual atomic structure. Borax is studied in chemistry for its role in making buffer solutions and as a precursor to other boron compounds.

Comparison Chart


Mineral Compound

Chemical Formula



In alloys, ceramics, glass production
Cleaning, insecticide, fungicide


In various minerals
In evaporated lake beds


Essential for plant growth
Used as a micronutrient in agriculture

Boron and Borax Definitions


In plants, boron is an essential micronutrient.
A deficiency of boron can lead to stunted plant growth.


Borax is commonly used as a household cleaning product.
Borax can remove tough stains from laundry.


Boron can act as a semiconductor under certain conditions.
Boron doping is used in the manufacture of solar panels.


In some cases, borax serves as a preservative.
Borax is used to preserve flowers and in taxidermy.


Boron forms various compounds, each with unique properties.
Boric acid, a compound of boron, is used as an antiseptic.


Borax is effective as a natural insecticide.
Borax is used to control ant infestations in homes.


Boron is added to steel and other alloys to enhance their properties.
Boron steel is notable for its high strength and light weight.


Borax is used to create buffer solutions in biochemistry.
Borax buffers are used in DNA extraction processes.


Boron is a chemical element with atomic number 5.
Boron is used to increase the hardness of steel.


Borax acts as a fungicide in certain applications.
Borax solutions can treat some plant fungal diseases.


A nonmetallic element that is amorphous and brown or crystalline and black, and is extracted chiefly from kernite and borax and used in flares, propellant mixtures, nuclear reactor control elements, abrasives, and hard metallic alloys. Atomic number 5; atomic weight 10.811; melting point 2,075°C; boiling point 4000°C; specific gravity (crystal) 2.34, (amorphous) 2.37; valence 3. See Periodic Table.


A hydrated sodium borate, Na2B4O7·10H2O, an ore of boron, that is used as a cleaning compound.


The chemical element (symbol B) with an atomic number of 5, which is a metalloid found in its pure form as a dark amorphous powder.


Cheap merchandise, especially tasteless furnishings
"today's glinty borax" (New Yorker).


A single atom of this element.


A white or gray/grey crystalline salt, with a slight alkaline taste, used as a flux, in soldering metals, making enamels, fixing colors/colours on porcelain, and as a soap, etc.


A nonmetallic element occurring abundantly in borax. It is reduced with difficulty to the free state, when it can be obtained in several different forms; viz., as a substance of a deep olive color, in a semimetallic form, and in colorless quadratic crystals similar to the diamond in hardness and other properties. It occurs in nature also in boracite, datolite, tourmaline, and some other minerals. Atomic number 5. Atomic weight 10.81. Symbol B.


(chemistry) The sodium salt of boric acid, Na2B4O7, either anhydrous or with 5 or 10 molecules of water of crystallization; sodium tetraborate.


A trivalent metalloid element; occurs both in a hard black crystal and in the form of a yellow or brown powder


Cheap or tawdry furniture or other works of industrial design.


(transitive) To treat with borax.


A white or gray crystalline salt, with a slight alkaline taste, used as a flux, in soldering metals, making enamels, fixing colors on porcelain, and as a soap. It occurs native in certain mineral springs, and is made from the boric acid of hot springs in Tuscany. It was originally obtained from a lake in Thibet, and was sent to Europe under the name of tincal. Borax is a pyroborate or tetraborate of sodium, Na2B4O7.10H2O.


An ore of boron consisting of hydrated sodium borate; used as a flux or cleansing agent


What is borax?

Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a mineral and a salt of boric acid.

Is boron essential for human health?

Boron has a role in human health, but it is not classified as an essential nutrient.

What is boron?

Boron is a chemical element with the symbol B and atomic number 5.

How is boron used in industry?

Boron is used in glassmaking, ceramics, and as an alloying agent in steel.

Can boron be recycled?

Some boron-containing products, like glass, can be recycled.

What are the common uses of borax?

Borax is used for cleaning, as an insecticide, and as a fungicide.

How is borax mined?

Borax is usually mined from evaporated lake beds where it crystallizes.

Can borax be consumed?

Borax is not safe for consumption and should be used only externally.

Where is boron found in nature?

Boron is found in various minerals such as borax and kernite.

Is borax eco-friendly?

Borax is generally considered eco-friendly but should be used responsibly.

Does boron conduct electricity?

Pure boron is a poor conductor, but its compounds can conduct under certain conditions.

Can borax be used in organic farming?

Borax can be used as a micronutrient in organic farming in limited amounts.

How is boron extracted?

Boron is extracted from ore or produced as a byproduct of mining.

Are there any environmental concerns with boron?

Excessive boron can be harmful to plants and ecosystems.

Is boron a metal or non-metal?

Boron is a metalloid, possessing properties of both metals and non-metals.

What is the chemical formula of borax?

The chemical formula of borax is Na2[B4O5(OH)4]·8H2O.

Can borax be used in cooking?

Borax is not safe for use in cooking or food preparation.

What is the role of boron in plants?

Boron is essential for plant cell wall strength and development.

Is borax harmful to pets?

Borax can be harmful if ingested by pets and should be used with caution.

Is borax a natural product?

Yes, borax is a naturally occurring mineral.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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