BORAX: one of the most useful of chemicals. The world's supply formerly came from Asia, principally Thibet and Persia, but the United States now furnishes a consider able share of it, the largest deposits being those discovered in the middle and latter part of the last century in California and Nevada. The most famous are those of "Death Valley" in California, the borax being generally found in depressions which were probably lakes in prehistoric times. The borax there is generally in the shape of balls, from the smallest possible size to others as large as pumpkins, and usually stuck in clay around the depressions or "marshes"—technically so called though a ma jority of them have been dry as dust for ages and the others hold water only during the rainy season. When these balls are broken they show a white crystal interior, which changes to a hard dull grey on further exposure to the air. In other parts, the borax
is mixed with sand on the surface and in masses under ground.
In its powdered and refined form and as boric or boracic acid, which is borax decom posed by sulphuric or hydrochloric acid, borax has an extraordinarily wide field of use fulness. It is largely used in the silk and textile trades, in paper making and various other manufactures, as a substitute for and in the composition of soap, in the making of shampoo and other hair preparations, for preserving foods and liquids Of all kinds, in the sick room and nursery, for the extermination of all manner of bugs and vermin, etc.
Adulterations were formerly very common but the bulk of the borax sold to-day is pure. To test it, add to the powder a few drops of strong vinegar—if it effervesces, it is not pure. The most commonly used adulterant is bicarbonate of sodium.