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Twenty MuleTeam Borax

A quick question. Is borax the same substance sold as Twenty
MuleTeam Borax, a washing and cleaning product?

Thanks in advance.
Respectfully yours,
J. Russell

Twenty Mule team is a coarser grain of borax than the borax sold by
jewelry supply houses.

You can use the Twenty Mule team borax mixed with water as a flux
for soldering but if you are casting it is better to use the finer
grain borax sold at the Jewelry supply houses.

Greg DeMark
email: greg@demarkjewelry.com
Website:www.demarkjewelry.com
Website: www.outdrs.net/~demark

It has been many years since I was into that but I believe the stuff
was called borax glass and is not a detergent product.Sorry I don’t
remember where I got it.

Best Regards
Harry

    . . .  Is borax the same substance sold as Twenty MuleTeam
Borax, a washing and cleaning product? 

Hi J.; Yep, except that 20 MuleTeam has some added stuff to keep it
from clumping in the box. Possibly there are some other additives to
make it work better as a laundry product. It’s usable, but I prefer
something purer, like the borax most jewelry tool suppliers sell for
use in casting. Ceramic supply houses carry borax also, and they’ll
have “anhydrous” borax, which is real nice because it doesn’t foam up
and blow away when you drop it on hot metal, it just smoothes out to
a nice glaze.

David L. Huffman

Yup. The stuff works great for pre-treating crucibles and is also a
great detergent booster.

Ken

Hi,

 Is borax the same substance sold as Twenty MuleTeam Borax, a
washing and cleaning product? 

They’re one & the same.

The 20 Mule Team Borax box purchased from the Safeway grocery store
lists the ingredients as: sodium tetra-borate decahydrate.

Dave

From the manufacturer’s website FAQ:

How much Borax is in 20 Mule Team?

20 Mule Team Borax is comprised of 99.5% pure borax, a naturally
occurring mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. (The
scientific name for borax is sodium tetraborate decahydrate.) The
remaining 0.5% is composed of trace minerals.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR afn03234@afn.org

You can purchase fine boric acid over the counter at a pharmacy for
about 25% the price of a jewelry supply house, and it’s just as good
or better in my opinion than the commercially packaged boric acid.

Karen in Kansas

You can make anhydrous borax from 20 Mule team Borax. Just pour it
on to a cookie sheet and bake it in the oven. Can’t give a specific
time or temp. Seems like I did it at around 500F for a half hour or
so. What you are doing is cooking the water out of it. I then used
it as flux to make some cable damascus (steel cable forge welded
together).

Brian

As far as I can tell from the box, Twenty Mule Team Borax is pure
borax.

Beth in SC

David ,

There is a persistent rumor that 20 mule team borax has additives
for anti caking etc. but a call to the manufacturer reveals it is
pure borax. If you want a finer grain size like the stuff from the
jewelers supply use a mortar and pestle and grind it. It is much
cheaper than the stuff from the chemical supply house or the jewelry
supply house. Anhydrous borax will only remain that way if you keep
it in a air tight container as it will absorb moisture from the air
quite rapidly.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau

    sodium tetraborate decahydrate 

Lets ask ourselves if these are really the same thing by finding the
makeup of chemical compounds:

1.) Borax is Na2 B4 O7 10H2O (also known as sodium borate
decahydrate; sodium pyroborate; birax; sodium tetraborate
decahydrate; sodium biborate) a natural mineral compound

2.) boric acid is H3BO3

Now, lets ask ourselves what are the pH [meaning “parts hydrogen”]
properties of these two substances? Remembering neutral is 7.0
Distilled water! Do they tend to be either an “acid” or a “base”:

1.) The pH of borax is about 9.3 or 9.5

2.) The ph of boric acid is about 5.0 - a clue: it has the word
"acid" in it’s name.

Remember the pH scale goes from (0) zero (most acidic) at the low
end of the pH spectrum and 14 at the most (base) alkaline at the high
end of the pH spectrum; the smaller the pH number the more acidic -
conversely, the higher the pH number the more alkalinity.

Thinking this through; we do not want to unintentionally make our
studios into little laboratory experiements. We all know the smell of
vinegar (pH of about 3.0) is different from the smell of ammonia (pH
of about 12).

So, in closing; black coffee is about a 5.0 on the pH scale. Lemon
juice is about pH 2.0.- therefore, boric acid is about as acidic as
black coffee and borax is more…yes… more alkaline. Something must
be making it these two things “different”.

Regards,
Mark

    There is a persistent rumor that 20 mule team borax has
additives for anti caking etc. but a call to the manufacturer
reveals it is pure borax. 

Thanks, Jim;

I gathered that from yours and another’s post on the subject. I had
taken that verbatim from some of the experts doing
pattern welded steel. We always went for the anhydrous stuff, just a
lot easier to apply. Didn’t think you could drive off the water from
the regular stuff without melting it down completely to a liquid mass
and re-grinding it when it solidified.

David L. Huffman

If you use the 20 Mule Team you can put the moisture packets you get
in medicines to keep the moisture out

Continue from:
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/twenty-muleteam-borax

   Lets ask ourselves if these are really the same thing by
finding the makeup of chemical compounds: 

Well I am not sure who brought Boric Acid into the conversation but
they both do the same thing for the metalsmith that is they dissolve
metal oxides and convert them into soluble metaborates. Both form a
viscous covering on the metal that inhibits further oxidation from
taking place. They both break down upon heating into boron trioxide
B2O3 which reacts with metallic oxides and converts them into
metaborates. The biggest difference for us is that borax melts into
a fluid form at 700 C while Boric Acid starts to fuse into a fibrous
matt at 577 C it will not convert into a fluid form and start
dissolving oxides below 900 C. So borax is much more useful at lower
temperatures for dissolving oxides.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau

... Didn't think you could drive off the water from the regular
stuff without melting it down completely to a liquid mass and
re-grinding it when it solidified. 

Hello David,

A recent experiment would tend to make me agree with that. I tried
baking regular borax at 500C for 40 minutes, reground it, dropped
some in alcohol and then put the torch to it and it puffs like crazy!
Even more than ever it seemed.

I fully accept that I may have messed something up somewhere but it
does demonstrate that no-puff borax flux isn’t quite that easy to
achieve.

Cheers,
Trevor F.

Jim, Not sure I agree with you about the temperature variations
between borax and boric acid. Borax, I believe provides the high
heat protection from around 700 degrees F to its fusing temperature
of 1350 degrees F. Boric acid, on the other hand, provides surface
protection at temperatures between 270 and 400 degrees F, a critical
range in which the metal is absorbing large amounts of heat and
oxygen. That is one reason, I believe, both are included in the
Prip’s flux formula.

What say some of the chemists on the list?

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2

Why would you put it in alcohol? Try using it after you regrind it.
That is how I used it for forge welding and it worked great.

Brian

Putting anhydrous borax in alcohol does defeat the purpose of
making it anhydrous. It will dehydrate the alcohol and become the
hydrated borax .

jesse

Hi Don,

The temperatures and reactions I quoted are from "The Theory and

Practice of Goldsmithing" by Brephol and I have verified the melting
points of both compounds in a temperature controlled electric kiln
in my research into making molten salt baths for annealing.

Neither one is an effective flux at the low temperatures you quote.
Read Dr. Brepols book for an in depth explanation of how they work
and for some formulas for somewhat lower melting point fluxes

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau