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Borax which is also known as Sodium Borate, can be used as a component in some developer formulas.
Borax acts as an alkali (accelerator), this shortens developing time for practical purposes. Development will still take place in the absence of an alkali but it will take considerably longer.
Developing agents work more effectively in an alkaline environment hence the addition of an alkali in the developer formula substantially reduces the development time and the subsequent use of an acid stop bath halts development abruptly by neutralizing the alkali and producing an acid environment.
In 1988 the Dial (soap) Corporation bought the exclusive rights to make and sell such home pantry staples as 20-Mule-Team Borax all-purpose cleaner, Borateem stain remover and Boraxo powdered hand soap.
At the time the U.S. president is Ronald Reagan, fondly remembered as the host of "Death Valley Days" once sponsored on TV by Borax.
Photographers' Formulary 10-0261 5LB Specs
Biborate of soda Biborate of sodium Borate of soda Borate of sodium Purified borax Pyroborate of soda Sodium biborate Sodium borate Sodium pyroborate Sodium tetraborate Tetraborate of soda 20 Mule Team Borax
Pure white crystalline powder
As a mild alkali accelerator in fine-grain developers and those of low activity In certain fixing baths In some acid hardeners, especially those intended for prints that are to be dried through heated belt driers In gold toning baths to render them alkaline and to increase the rate of deposition of gold
Borax is available as borax, pentahydrate, but most commonly as borax, decahydrate, the form used in photographic formulas. The old term for decahydrate is crystalline. Borax, decahydrate, and 20 Mule Team Borax are one and the same.