5B Boron

Year Discovered


Discovered By

Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac and L. .J. Thenard of France, and Sir Humphry Davy of England

Biological Rating

Necessary for plants.


Named from an Arabic word that possibly refers to a compound of boron. Boron is a rare non-metallic element, which has several forms. The most common is amorphous boron, an unreactive dark powder. Boron is extensively used in industry, with over a million tons-per-year consumed. Boron is used in fire-retardants, household cleansers, water softening agents and detergents. It is also used in soldering and welding as a flux, in making Pyrex glass, and in pyrotechnic flares and fireworks. A compound of boron is used as a semi-conductor in electrical applications. Boron forms a compound with carbon–boron carbide–which is nearly as hard as diamond and is used as an abrasive, and in equipment that grinds very hard substances. An isotope of boron is used in nuclear reactors as a shield and control.

Biological Benefits

Boron is an essential trace element for green algae and other higher plants. It is not believed to be required by animal life, but it might be necessary as a trace element for building muscle and bone. Certain boron compounds are thought to be treatments for arthritis, and boric acid has a widespread use in medicine as a mild antiseptic.

Role in Life Processes

Plants: Critical for life processes.
Humans: Beneficial to full health or thought to be.

Percentage Amount in the Human Body: 0.00003%


Boron is chiefly found in evaporite minerals, such as ulexite and kernite, which are mined in the USA, Chile and Argentina, and colemanite, which is mined in Turkey and in the USA. Other boron-bearing minerals include borax and datolite.