Friday, June 15, 2012

The Scoop on Borates

Most of us have heard of borax; in fact the brand 20 Mule Team Borax is a household name. Chemically known as sodium borate, sodium tetra borate, and disodium tetraborate, it is used for cleaning, fire retardation, and fluxing in metallurgy.

Did you know that a similar product to borax, disodium octoborate tetrahydrate, is commonly used in the preservation of wood structures? Like borax, disodium octoborate tetrahydrate is a white powder that dissolves easily in water, making it nearly clear when applying to a substrate. Because of its nature as a fungicide and toxicity to wood-boring insects, it has become a standard in preventative treatment for log homes.

Disodium octoborate tetrahydrate is easily dissolved in water, which makes application of the powder a cinch. After your application dries, there may be some residual white crystals on the surface. This is easily brushed off. Because the borate powder is water-soluable, it requires a wood stain or sealer over top or else a few rain showers and the white crystals will be pulled right back out of the wood.

It is more commonly and easily known by its brand names, including Armor Guard, PeneTreat and Timbor. They are easy to mix and apply for both preventative and remedial purposes. It must go on bare wood, and as a relatively inexpensive and easy step to preserve your wood, it is well-worth consideration before staining your wood!