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Andreas Preuss

Borax a as a wood stabilizer?

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Borax does dissolve in hot water to varying degrees depending on what form its in. The stuff  in nature is crystallized from hot springs ,lake beds etc. Sand or silica wont dissolve in water unless its very caustic ie. waterglass.

Some of the borax will produce boric acid when applied to wood with any moisture content.

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1 hour ago, uguntde said:

My other concern would be that wetting the wood after all the effort to reduce its humidity, and then covering the wet wood with varnish, cannot be a smart idea. The Borax would either have to be applied before drying the wood, or in an oil matrix (like pummice in a ground).

 

Bound water in the wood cells and water introduced after seasoning are completely different things. So you would season the wood (which would take a year in a warm dry climate), then treat it, then wait a day or so for this free water to dry off ...

The bound water takes a lot of time and effort to get out of the wood, but once the wood arrives at EMC (equilibrium moisture content ie. as dry as the atmosphere around it), it will happily take on moisture and shed it ad infinitum. 

Borax has been used as a woodworm treatment sine time immemorial, and having used it myself I can say that the household crystals dissolve very well in hot water, and that the required treatment using the solution is more of a surface coating than a deep steeping. It does sometimes leave a bit of a furry residue.

In the greater scheme of things I can't imagine that the deliquescent or otherwise properties of borax would affect the acoustic properties of a violin, but I do think that the whole issue of wood treatment, seasoning, handling is one of the things that must be different about early violins.

I would speculate that treatment with borax or some similar insecticide might cause the wood to age slightly differently from equlivalent untreated wood.

 

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One thing that may be missing from this conversation is that the use of borax may have an accidental acoustic benefit. I looked up the sound velocity of Boron and its quite high at 16,000 m/s.  That's triple the speed through spruce. 

-chris

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On 9/29/2019 at 1:28 PM, chrispiano said:

One thing that may be missing from this conversation is that the use of borax may have an accidental acoustic benefit. I looked up the sound velocity of Boron and its quite high at 16,000 m/s.  That's triple the speed through spruce. 

-chris

 

On 9/29/2019 at 1:28 PM, chrispiano said:

One thing that may be missing from this conversation is that the use of borax may have an accidental acoustic benefit. I looked up the sound velocity of Boron and its quite high at 16,000 m/s.  That's triple the speed through spruce. 

-chris

No.  That speed of sound is for elemental boron not the compound borax.

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2 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Could someone cite a primary source for the use of borax in Renaissance times? I need a good citation for my notes.

Thanks.

The B10 /B11 isotope ratio varies with its geological borax source.  A  good laboratory could identify where samples came from.

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3 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Could someone cite a primary source for the use of borax in Renaissance times? I need a good citation for my notes.

Thanks.

From a Paduan MS translated in Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Art of Painting, Mary P. Merrifield, p 694 of the Dover edition, in a recipe for "the finest Indian varnish"...

Happy to scan and post the recipe if anyone wants it.

Edited by Julian Cossmann Cooke

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3 hours ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

From a Paduan MS translated in Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Art of Painting, Mary P. Merrifield, p 694 of the Dover edition, in a recipe for "the finest Indian varnish"...

Happy to scan and post the recipe if anyone wants it.

Found it. The Panduan MS dates from the late 16th to mid-17th century. Perfect.

Grazie mille. 

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Actually, the person who is leading the research project reported to me that the boron application had a negative effect on the sound.

To make matters clear. The experiment was conducted on white Chinese made instruments where the top was immersed into the solution while still attached to the body of the instrument. The negative effect was determined by the the sound speed in the wood comparing it with the sound speed before the treatment. (Can't remember right now which concentration of borax to water was used.)

I had some reservations about the treatment itself as well as for the way the experiment was made. So from my viewpoint it simply didn't bring any significant new insights. 

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8 hours ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

From a Paduan MS translated in Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Art of Painting, Mary P. Merrifield, p 694 of the Dover edition, in a recipe for "the finest Indian varnish"...

Happy to scan and post the recipe if anyone wants it.

Hi Julian,

I would be interested in the recipe.

 

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I recall Nagyvary once touted borax as a magical treatment.  I tried it for a while, forcing a solution into the wood with vacuum and pressure (it wouldn't get into the spruce otherwise).  Initial tests seemed to indicate that damping was reduced slightly, although the residual borax (which is impossible to get out) added a little weight and didn't do anything good for speed of sound.  Repeating the tests did NOT verify the initial result, so I have abandoned it.  I do, however, put a light coating on the inside of the instrument with a casein/borate solution, with the borate there for possible insect protection rather than any acoustic reason.

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On 6/4/2018 at 6:33 AM, uguntde said:

Borax occurs as a mineral that does not dissolve in water. Chemically it is similar to silicate, as B and Si are neighbours in the periodic system. Silica gel is a porous form of silicates. Boron does however have its very own chemistry due its 3-bonded nature.

The Borax that is sold as a liquid which I assume is a boric acid solution.

Sand consists of borosilicates, and glass consists of borosilicates.

Do you agree?

Absolutely NOT on all counts!!! I spent 34 years as a chemist, and  have rarely seen anything so off base. 

Borax is Sodium Tetraborate, no matter what form it's in. Boric Acid is a totally different formula (does not contain Sodium). Sand is mostly Silicon Dioxide, and does not contain Boron! Pyrex glass is a borosilicate glass, and that isn't sand.

 

 

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17 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Hi Julian,

I would be interested in the recipe.

 

Sorry I couldn't flatten the book any further, Andreas.  A paperback with a strong binding.  Imagine that!  Still should be legible.  If not, let me know and I'll post the missing words.

Indian varnish2.pdf Indian varnish.pdf

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On October 8, 31 Heisei at 2:46 AM, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

Sorry I couldn't flatten the book any further, Andreas.  A paperback with a strong binding.  Imagine that!  Still should be legible.  If not, let me know and I'll post the missing words.

Indian varnish2.pdf 478.42 kB · 7 downloads Indian varnish.pdf 434.7 kB · 5 downloads

Thanks Julian! 

Needed some quiet Moment to read it slowly. 

There are two things I find interesting: Broadly speaking the notion that all varnishes before 1800 have been oil based seems to be a distorted view. 

Secondly I find it interesting that materials have been used which definitely don't dissolve in alcohol and those 'foreign' materials could actually influence some sound characteristics. Boron in a varnish is quite interesting.

if you ever made one of those varnishes I would suggest to put it on your spirit varnish thread. 

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Thanks Julian! 

Needed some quiet Moment to read it slowly. 

There are two things I find interesting: Broadly speaking the notion that all varnishes before 1800 have been oil based seems to be a distorted view. 

Secondly I find it interesting that materials have been used which definitely don't dissolve in alcohol and those 'foreign' materials could actually influence some sound characteristics. Boron in a varnish is quite interesting.

if you ever made one of those varnishes I would suggest to put it on your spirit varnish thread. 

 

 

Agreed, Andreas.  Not sure where this fits into my research agenda, but I will certainly add it to the list and share the results when I finally get to it.

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