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What is boron used for?

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Quick Answer

The element boron only has a few uses in its natural, amorphous state, with the most common uses being as an igniter for rocket fuel and as an additive to signal flares, giving them their distinctive green color. Still, there are many compounds made with boron that have many more uses, such as boric oxide, boracic acid and sodium borate or borax.

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Full Answer

These three different compounds are very widely used in a variety of eyedrops and antiseptics, and they are also a common ingredient in washing powders. Borax is especially a common ingredient in many cosmetics and soaps.

Boron is also a primary compound used in the manufacturing of borosilicate glass, which is a hardened type of safety glass commonly known as Pyrex. Boric acid is also a common ingredient in pesticides in North America, which can be used to kill silverfish, ants, cockroaches, fleas and other small insects.

The boron-10 isotope also plays a major role in the regulation of nuclear reactors, as it is especially good at absorbing neutrons. Boron is also an important part of the production of many different lightweight materials, such as those used by the aerospace industry. Doctors have also discovered that certain boron compounds may be able to help treat arthritis as well.

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