Though boric acid is a commonly used compound in homes and other places, a number, still does not know the various uses it can be put to. If you knew these uses, you would certainly call it a wonder chemical! …
Chemically, boric acid is H₃BO₃, which for this reason can also be called hydrogen borate. Boron itself is an element of the second row and Group IIIA of the periodic table, with an atomic number of 5. Boron is a naturally occurring compound that is always found in combination with other elements. This includes sodium that leads to formation of borax and oxygen leading to boric acid.
Borates have been used since many centuries throughout China as well as many middle-eastern countries. Most people know only a handful of uses of this chemical. Indians know it as the talc-like powder they spread on the carom boards for their strikers and carom men to move along faster. Some Mediterranean people know it as the white salt-like chemical used in preserving their foods. However, this is not all to it.
Boric crystals were first made in a lab by Wilhelm Homberg in 1702. This is why it is often called ‘Homberg’s salt’. Here’s a list of uses that boric acid can be put to, though it is not an exhaustive list by any means.
Boric acid has antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, and astringent properties. For these reasons, it finds its way in many home remedies and medicinal prescriptions.
For Eye Treatments
It is the only acid in the world that is beneficial rather than harmful for human eyes. In fact, some of the leading optical product manufacturers of the world are use boric acid as an antiseptic eyewash. Chemists do not sell this chemical to people for eye treatments, but solutions that contain this acid in them can be bought easily. Typically, it is used in the treatment of pink eye (conjunctivitis), eye infections, and discharges from the eyes.
For Ear Treatments
Swimmers use boric acid solutions to clean their ears of fungi that might have entered their ears from the water when swimming. It is also used in treating various kinds of ear infections in both humans and pets, which might occur due to various reasons.
For Skin Treatments
When topically used in specific areas such as the feet, it can reduce excessive sweating which causes smelling of the feet. It is used in the treatment of candidiasis, which is an infection of yeast in the vagina. Other skin problems that boric acid can combat, are athlete’s foot and most kinds of fungal and yeast infections on the skin. It is also useful for treating epidermal wounds on the skin, due to its antiseptic properties. It can be included in the dressings for minor wounds, such as cuts and burns.
There are several uses that boric acid can be put to around the house. One important use is controlling small insects and pests around the house. Boric powder can kill (or at least repel) insects like ants, cockroaches, silverfish, fleas and others when kept near their hiding points. Making a solution of one part of boric acid and ten parts of sugar in water and sprinkling this in the crevices around the house is a very good method of insect control. For controlling fleas and dust mites, the powder is directly sprinkled in areas such as under the furniture, behind cabinets and bookcases, in the upholstery, and under carpets, etc.
Sprinkling boric powder around the house is good to control a housefly infestation also, and this is a common activity in most Asian homes during the rainy season (also known as the housefly season!) begins to set in. Speaking of the rains, this is also the period when the house becomes damp enough for mold and mildew to think of seeking free accommodation within the house. Boric acid helps fight them off, too.
Boric acid is probably the only compound with just as many industrial uses as it has medicinal uses. Its primary industrial use in the preparation of Pyrex glass and fiberglass. It has its uses in the jewelry industry to prevent some side reactions that heated metals might undergo, such as surface oxidation. Even in manufacturing fireproof clothes, this compound has slight properties, though they are largely overshadowed by materials, such as Kevlar. Boric acid is also used in the production of LCD flat-panel display glass.
Boric acid has many preservation uses due to its insecticidal properties. Thus, helping in preservation of timber. It also prevents attack on the wood by fungal and insect attack. It is also added during the curing of sheepskins, calfskins, and cattle hides as it controls the growth of bacteria and insects.
Many pesticides and fertilizers used for farm use, contain boric powder as an ingredient, and so do most of the chemicals that are used to thwart rodents, insects, and pests from infesting the crops. Boric powder is also used in fireworks to give a greenish sparkle to the flame. These were a few everyday uses of boric acid. The potential of this white powder is greater than what appears to be, as it continues to be incorporated in daily household as well as industrial areas.