Sodium perborate is a chemical with the formula NaBo3. It’s a water soluble chemical which also happens to be white in color and has no odor. When dry, it forms different types of crystals, as it’s a salt. Sodium perborate is a strong oxidizing agent. This is due to the fact that when mixed with water, this product produces hydrogen peroxide.
To produce sodium perborate, the prescribed method is to react with three different compounds: hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide and disodium tetraborate pentahydrate. Sodium perborate is mainly used in the manufacture of cleaning agents such as detergents and bleaches. This can be ascribed to its property of releasing hydrogen peroxide when mixed with water as a result of a hydrolysis reaction. The hydrogen peroxide performs functions such as reacting with various dirt molecules, making it easier to remove them.
However, as a bleaching agent, the main mechanism of action of sodium perborate is by combining with stains and then donating reactive oxygen species to them, making the fabric much cleaner. For this reason, sodium perborate can be used in a wide variety of products such as bleaches and detergents. One notable use of the chemical is as a tooth bleaching formula in cosmetic dentistry. For this, the sodium perborate is placed in the tooth and then left there for a period of time, so as to allow it to permeate the tooth. The fact that it’s placed in the tooth also means that the chemical has to bleach the tooth from the inside out.
When compared to other detergents such as sodium hypochlorite, this particular compound is milder, and causes less damage to textiles when used for laundry. It can therefore be used as an alternative for those clothes that are sensitive to other mainstream bleaches.