[Sca-cooks] Bakers borax again

David Friedman ddfr at daviddfriedman.com
Sun Oct 14 14:01:24 PDT 2012

I've been reading al-Warraq and am still puzzled over the borax question.

According to the author and the translator, there are two kinds of 
borax: Natron and baker's borax (aka Armenian borax). The latter is used 
in food, both to make a glossy surface on bread and, apparently, as a 
leavening! The translator says that it is sodium borate, which is what 
is now called borax--and never explains the chemical difference between 
the two kinds, although she does describe their differing appearance.

But according to Wikipedia, natron doesn't have any boron in it. It's a 
mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate  and about 17% sodium 
bicarbonate--aka baking soda. Which suggests that perhaps bakers' borax 
is baking soda, or some natural mineral that consists largely of baking 

In which case we not only have a period chemical leavening, we have 
period baking soda!

-- David Friedman

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