Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ever add borax powder to your laundry?

  Or perhaps it was used by one of your historical characters in the late 1800's.                         

The concentrate is also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate. William Tell Coleman named his product 20-Mule Team Borax after the transport used to carry the powder from his Harmony Borax Works near Furnace Creek, California to the railhead at Mojave, California. Between 1883 and 1889, the teams repeatedly made this grueling 164-mile, ten-day trip across primitive roads.



  The 20-mule teams were actually teams of 18 mules and two horses. The big burly horses were usually first in line near the driver to get the wagon going, and the mules’ stamina and hard work kept it rolling. The wagons were the largest ever pulled by draft animals and were designed to carry 10 short tons of borax at a time. Thankfully and surprisingly, when the teams operated out of the Harmony Borax Works, not a single mule or wagon was lost. 
public domain map

In the 19th century, borax was an ingredient used in ceramics and gold mining, but it was also touted as a cure-all for everything from dandruff to epilepsy. First found in dry lakebeds in Tibet, for 500 years it was transported in ancient times along the Silk Road. Today borax is a component of many detergents, and cosmetics. It also ensures a good fit between the glaze or enamel, and the item it covers while adding to the brilliance of the glaze. 

The Borax Museum in Death Valley National Park, Furnace Creek, is the oldest building in Death Valley. 

There is even a movie of hard times, murder, and misplaced love, built around borax mining.

 Borax remains a component in many uses. Sometimes the "old ways" still work best.

Cleaning and Household Use: commonly used as a cleaning agent and laundry booster.

Pest Control: effective to deter ants, cockroaches, fleas, termites and other insects by disrupting their digestive systems and exoskeletons.

Preservative: has preservative properties and can be used to extend the shelf life of certain perishable goods, such as fresh-cut flowers and certain food products.

Fire Retardant: added to materials such as wood, fabrics, and cellulose insulation to reduce their flammability.

Flux: helps to lower the melting point of metals and facilitate the soldering or welding process.

Glass and Ceramic Production: Borax is an essential ingredient in the production of glass and ceramics.

Chemical Reactions and Science Experiments: used in various chemical reactions and laboratory experiments as a pH buffer.

Borax should be handled with care, especially when using it in concentrated forms or in areas accessible to children or pets. It is recommended to follow appropriate safety guidelines and instructions when using borax.


Gini's books include:

 Western Romance: Break Heart Canyon * Undercover Outlaw * Cowboys, Cattle and Cutthroats * A Cowboy’s Fate * Special Delivery.

Contemporary Romantic Thriller: Fatal Recall

Medieval Romance: The Dragon and The Rose * Iron Heart * Promise Me Christmas.

Victorian Romance: Lady Gallant * Victorian Dream

Fantasy: The Fae Warriors Trilogy: Solace * Bliss * Portence


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Julie Lence said...

I always thought of Borax as just a cleaning product. I never knew it had other uses. Thanks for sharing, Gini.

Faith V. Smith said...

Love all the information. I remember watching commercials for Borax, when I was younger! Good job!