Say 'acid' and what's the image that comes to mind? A fuming liquid inside a glass jar, too dangerous to handle. We don't think of boric acid, do we? But it's among the most useful chemicals to have around the house!
Boric acid the play-maker
Boric acid is a fine white powder at room temperature. It hardly ever reacts with anything by itself. Just ask carrom players, who sprinkle it on the board without anything happening to them. It makes the surface of the carrom board smoother by reducing the friction between the puck and the board. Then the carrom pucks move much faster, making the game very exciting!
But there is a lot more to boric acid. In many industries, it is mixed with vegetable oils to make a very effective lubricant. So next time your bicycle chain needs greasing, try this out!
Try this experiment. On a carrom board, try to slide a rubber across. Does it move? (Rubber has very high friction, that's why it's used in tyres to prevent wheels from slipping.) Now put some boric acid on the board, and slide the rubber again. Did it slide easily this time?
Boric acid the killer
It's a very effective chemical to get rid of pests like ants and cockroaches. Mix a teaspoon of boric acid powder with ten teaspoons of sugar, and leave it in places where ants and cockroaches come. When they eat it, the boric acid acts as a poison and kills them (it's not poisonous to humans).
Boric powder also kills bacteria and fungi. It's often used to cure you of skin infections like acne, pimples, rashes etc. You can mix it with talcum powder and put it in the affected area. Sports-persons put boric acid in their socks, so that it stops germs growing in the spaces between their toes. If you've got an eye infection, you can use a dilute solution of boric acid as an antiseptic eye-wash.
Boric acid the preserver
Till a few years back, boric acid was also used as a food preservative. You might have noticed mom or grandmom adding it to pickles. However, now the use has been stopped, as eating too much boric acid can cause stomach ulcers.
You can also use it to protect your wooden furniture. There are boric acid gels you can get in the market, which you smear over your furniture (when it is being made). It stops pests like termites, borers and fungi from eating away at the wood.
Isn't it a really useful thing to have around home?