The boric acid is a chemical formula H 3 BO 3 . Its molecule has the element boron as its central atom. In nature, boric acid is found where there are mineral or boron accumulations, generally in volcanic areas , and to a lesser extent in the oceans. It should not be confused with borax , which is a salt whose name is sodium tetrahydroborate.Boric acid comes as a white powder that is soluble in water and looks similar to baking soda or table salt. It is toxic and poisonous to many insects, which is why it is used as a home insecticide to combat the invasion of cockroaches, ants, mealybugs and termites.Boric acid is widely used in the industrial field, as its antibacterial, fungicidal and insecticidal properties are useful for the production of different products, from antiseptics to insecticides. It is also characterized by its fire retardant effects and its ability to absorb neutrons in radiation from nuclear accidents.

What is boric acid for?

Boric acid has multiple functions, which are related to health, medical care, industrial production, chemical reactivity, action against insect invasions and measures to mitigate radioactive catastrophes.

It serves to:

  • Fulfill specific functions in various fields
  • Treat skin problems, athlete’s foot, and fungus
  • Treat minor wounds, infections, and burns
  • Make powders, deodorants and cleaning products
  • Cases of nuclear disasters and radioactive contamination
  • Prepare insecticides and agricultural products
  • Extinguish fires and retard fire
  • Add to chemical reactions

Fulfill specific functions in various fields

Boric acid is used as an insecticide and fungicide

Boric acid is an extremely versatile substance that is useful for a multitude of tasks, such as:

  • Antiseptic purposes
  • Disinfectant purposes
  • Heal wounds
  • Fungicidal purposes
  • Bactericidal purposes
  • Eliminate bad odors
  • Deep cleanings
  • Vaginal showers
  • Prepare eye solutions
  • Make anti-sweating products
  • Prepare ointments against athlete’s foot
  • Prepare medicated lotions
  • Disinfect minor burns
  • Treat acne
  • Treat eczema
  • Treat skin problems
  • make cosmetics
  • Making drying powders
  • Prepare color stabilizers
  • Create flame retardant products
  • Produce thermal insulators
  • Regulate the pH of other chemicals
  • Soften the hard waters
  • Glaze ceramic
  • Thermal glass production
  • Treat woods
  • Make thermal paints
  • Prepare explosives
  • Produce chemical weapons
  • Achieve radioactive cleanups
  • Control nuclear accidents
  • Add to metallurgical processes
  • Add in alloys
  • Harden the steel
  • Add on nickel plating
  • Prepare insecticides
  • Make foliar fertilizers
  • Add to tanneries
  • Prepare boron-derived products

Treat skin problems, athlete’s foot, and fungus

Boric acid has been widely used for centuries to treat infections and skin problems , as it is a weak acid that, in addition to having bactericidal and fungicidal properties, helps keep skin soft.

For this reason, it has been used for medicinal baths, vaginal douches and in ointments against athlete’s foot, ringworm and other skin infections, such as erysipelas, ulcers, sores and eczema. It is used as a disinfectant in the form of ointments, talcum, liquid solution and as a pure powder.

The safety of its use in skin products is currently being discussed, and therefore some brands have removed this chemical component from the ingredients of their products.

Treat minor wounds, infections, and burns

Many antiseptic products contain boric acid as the main disinfectant, as this substance, in addition to being a microbicide, helps the healing of minor wounds. Boric acid was originally used in creams and ointments to help heal diaper rashes in babies, but it was discontinued due to its toxicity, which can be lethal in low doses .

In the case of wounds and burns, it is recommended never to use it on exposed injuries, as its toxicity can be activated in the bloodstream. Currently, the use of products only for external application and in low concentrations is sought.

Make powders, deodorants and cleaning products

Boric acid has the property of eliminating bad odors, which is why it has been used as part of the ingredients of deodorants, anti-odor powders and many cleaning products, both for personal and household hygiene.

Cases of nuclear disasters and radioactive contamination

The chemical action of boric acid serves to solve a variety of problems

The cooling properties of boric acid and its power to absorb neutrons have been used to help reduce radioactive contamination in nuclear power plant accidents. For example, in the cases of Chernobyl and Fukushima, boric acid was injected and sprayed with water to try to avoid possible nuclear fission.

Prepare insecticides and agricultural products

Boric acid is very toxic, deadly for insects; For this reason, it has been used since ancient times to combat pests, especially creeping ones such as:

  • Cockroaches
  • Ants
  • Termites
  • Flies

In many countries, cockroach infestations are controlled by spreading boric acid dust in the places where these insects pass most frequently. Because it is a poisonous powder, animals and children who come into contact with it can suffer poisoning and die; for that reason its use is not advised without the due precautions.

To avoid environmental imbalance, it is not advisable to use boric acid against fauna and beneficial insects, such as:

  • Bees
  • Butterflies
  • Other pollinating insects

Some fertilizers include boric acid as an ingredient, especially foliar fertilizers , which are special fertilizers to promote leaf growth in plant species.

Extinguish fires and retard fire

One of the ways that fire is prevented from spreading is by sprinkling powdered boric acid over the flames. Some people use boric acid to turn a fire green ; Burning the boric acid turns the flames bright green.

Add to chemical reactions

Several of the industrial uses of boric acid are related to its chemical activity, among them are:

  • Neutralize alkaline chemical species
  • Harden steel in foundries
  • Prepare better quality metal alloys
  • Prepare explosives
  • Manufacture fire resistant materials

Boric acid side effects

Although many people believe that boric acid is harmless, it turns out to be highly toxic if ingested or enters the bloodstream through open wounds or inhalation. It can cause adverse effects such as:

  • Greenish vomiting
  • Sickness
  • Diarrhea
  • Kidney damage
  • Dermatitis
  • Circulatory insufficiency
  • Blisters
  • Fever
  • Heaviness
  • Fainting
  • Daze
  • Seizures
  • Spasms
  • Coma
  • Death

For all of them, many production plants have withdrawn it from their products, especially food and pharmaceuticals.

Boric acid used to reduce nuclear accidents in turn becomes a very abundant and dangerous source of radioactive contamination, especially when it dissolves and leaks into groundwater.

Boric acid used in medicines for external use is present in a very low percentage, less than 3%. Still, it is not convenient to put it on open wounds. It is very important to wear gloves and a mask when handling pure boric acid, and never leave it near infants, animals, or pregnant women.

This article is informational in nature and is not a substitute for professional medical opinion. Consult a doctor.

Samantha Robson
 | Website

Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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