Boron was named from borax, the mineral that contains boron in large quantities. It is a component of the gemstone tourmalines. It was discovered by the French chemists Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jaques Thnard in 1808, the same year that it was also discovered by the English chemist, Sir Humphry Davy. All of them isolated boron by mixing potassium with boric acid. Today, boron is extracted from borax by using carbon.
Boron has the atomic number 5, an atomic weight of 10.811 and is a solid at room temperature. Its name comes from the word for borax from both the Arabic and Persian word- Buraq and Burah, respectively. It has a melting point of 348 K (2075C or 3767F), a boiling point of 4273 K (4000C or 7232F) and a density of 2.37 grams per cubic centimeter. It is a semi-metal in group 13, and period two.
Boron looks like carbon because it is the only element that can bond with another element into a structure of twenty equal sized planes. These twenty planes are linked to the five equal sided plane structure. Boron is the fifth element in the periodic table. It has a tendency to form long chains, as do carbon and silica.
When boron is mixed with steel, it makes steel stronger. Borax was added to soap in the past and also to water softeners, to make the soap dissolve better.
Agricultural use of boron is in fertilizers and in pesticides. If soil is deficient of boron, it will harden and vegetables will get dry rot, especially beets. You will also see pitting in apples and other fruit from a boron deficiency.
In medicine, boron is used to treat arthritis. It is also in use in homeopathic medicine. The patient who needs homeopathic boron is sensitive to noise and aggravated by going down stairs. They can be confused about their identity and easily discouraged. They have difficulty committing themselves, and are jumpy and fearful. They can even have multiple personalities.
Sodium borate decahydrate is the most important commercial use of boron. This compound is used in manufacturing fiberglass insulation. Another compound, boric acid, is used to manufacture fiberglass textiles and is a flame retardant. Borax, the laundry compound, is made from boron and sodium, hydrogen and oxygen. Boron can also be used in glass, and enamels. Boron-10, the isotope, is a naturally occurring isotope that is used in nuclear reactors, and as a radiation shield because it absorbs neutrons easily. Filaments made of boron are lightweight and strong and in use in making airplanes.