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Borosilicate Glass : Boron is Amazing

Borosilicate Beakers : Image via Link
You touch it everyday, the top surface of your smartphone or tablet, or touchscreen laptop surface, the boron makes the glass super strong, it also makes scientific glassware thermal shock resistant & tough! You can get OXO bakeware made of Borosilicate Too! 


My wife was heating water in the microwave in an 4qt "pyrex" measure cup glassware, when she pulled it out and was pouring it into a french press filled with ground coffee, the entire thing exploded into broken glass pieces. A further inspection determined that this "pyrex" was indeed soda lime glass, cheap fragile glass that has no place in kitchen cooking. The "PYREX" is borosilicate : while "pyrex" is soda lime glass, look at the bottom before you buy to make sure its all capital letters!

Borosilicate glass is amazingly thermal shock resistant to freezing cold or boiling hot, or quick transitions between freezing cold and boiling hot. When we were at Bed Bath and Beyond the other day I picked up an 8"x8" OXO Good Grip Freezer to Over Safe baking dish! It is microwave, dishwasher & freezer safe, made of the amazing borosilicate glass. I think it was $12.99!

Any time I hear or  "boron" or "borosilicate" I am reminded of a trip to the Boron Mine in Boron CA. I was in the region to work on the programmable logic controls of a new autoclave installation at an aerospace company back in July of 2014. Once upon a time I worked for an autoclave manufacturer as a consultant. I made a trip to the Boron Mine Visitors center on a  Saturday afternoon where I was the only person there, arriving at 4pm, it closes around 5pm. Free Admission, also the only exciting thing to do in town aside from sleeping and dreaming, or watching wind turbines spin... I met a lovely kind woman manning the battle station, she gave me a sample of TV' Rock, Ulexite, a boron optical fiber mineral rock that can move light like fiber optics, the small sample in a plastic bag with a paper explaining the name of the mineral and its function lifting the text of the paper explanation to the surface of the bag so you can see the optical function right as soon as you look at the little TV rock! I can not recall her name, she also gave me a tour of the visitors center and told me about the mine. It is a massive complex owned by Rio Tinto, a gigantic mineral mining conglomerate at the forefront of mining technology! Boron mineral mining in California started a long time ago, long before mergers and acquisitions absorbed the operation. Its a huge open pit mine that can be easily seen from the ISS, ( International Space Station. )

Borax Mine, Boron Ca : view from ISS : Image via Link

I knew about borosilicate glass because my dad taught me about it when I was a young boy. He created a chemistry set, and on Saturday afternoons we would do chemistry experiments together. The late Ken Schwarz was an amazing dad! He did an excellent job teaching me all sorts of cool manly skills and inspired me to become a scientist, a philosopher, a thinker, passionate about ethics, eco-friendly living, energy conservation, organic food, and health lifestyle where toxics are slowly phased out with non-toxic products, soaps, detergents, solvents, eco-friendly non toxic products of all kinds. I went on to use borosilicate glass in college, in chemistry classes, especially organic synthesis, and inorganic chemical extraction, reactions, and associated procedures. Glass is awesome because it is chemical inert to most chemicals, except hydrofluoric acid which can etch glass. When boron is added to glass made of silica, the boron fills in the molecular gaps, making the silica stronger. Borosilicate gets all of its amazing properties from boron!

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