Recently I came across the following question:-

Preparation of Sodium Peroxoborate- Equations

The term peroxoborate came from the fact that it has the peroxo bond $\ce{-O-O}-$. So, it should be strictly called peroxoborate. But some books says peroxoborate while other books say perborate. Is it true?

I googled sodium perborate. Wikipedia recognizes the compound as sodium perborate. Then, I googled sodium peroxoborate, the following message appear:-

enter image description here

So, is peroxoborate and perborate the same thing? If so, why some book says peroxoborate while othe books perborate? It should be strictly called peroxoborate since it contains the peroxo bond $\ce{-O-O}-$.


This is what written in Weller, M.; Overton, T.; Rourke, J.; Armstrong, F. Inorganic Chemistry, 6th ed:-

Sodium perborate is used as a bleach in laundry powder, automatic dishwasher powders, and whitening toothpastes. Although the formula is given as $\ce{NaBO3.H2O}$ or $\ce{NaBO3.4H2O}$, the compound contains th peroxide anion, $\ce{O2^{2-}}$ and is more accurately given by $\ce{Na2[B2(O2)2(OH)4].6H2O}$.

But this is what written in Lee, J.D. Inorganic chemistry

$$\ce{2NaBO2 + 2H2O2 + 6H2O -> Na2[B2(O2)2(OH)4].6H2O }$$ Sodium peroxoborate is used as a brightener in washing powder. It is compatible with enzymes which are added to some biological powders.

So, what is the correct name:- sodium perborate or sodium peroxoborate?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ unfortunately, there is no consistency between individual cases in the matter. Sometimes "per- " prefix denotes peroxo compound (like per-sulfate, per-borate); and sometimes it doesn't (per-chlorate, per-bromate). $\endgroup$ – permeakra Feb 10 '16 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, this is the question that came in my mind. But I modified the question. Why there are certain flaws in the suffixes or prefixes or any other rules in the naming of compounds though it is accepted universally? $\endgroup$ – Nilay Ghosh Feb 11 '16 at 3:03

TL; DR: Yes, perborate and peroxoborate are both the same thing. Perborate is just more popular, but peroxoborate is a more literate name for the $\ce{[B2(O2)2(OH)4]^2-}$ ion.

A perborate is a name attributed historically in XIX century to the compounds containing $\ce{BO3-}$ anion (see e.g. an overview [1]). In 1900s it quickly gained a foothold in the market and remained there since, as sodium perborate quickly became a popular additive for cleaning products. For instance, the name of the popular laudry detergent Persil, which Henkel introduced in 1907, is a syllabic abbreviation formed combining German words "Perborat" (sodium perborate, bleaching agent) and "Silikat" (sodium silicate, dirt remover).

If we take another look at Google Ngram Viewer listing exclusively for peroxoborate, we'll notice that this term emerged only after 1961:

Ngram peroxoborate

The reason is that in 1961 Hansson et al. [2] published a refined crystal structure of a controversial sodium perborate which was previously denoted with either $\ce{NaBO2 · H2O2 · 3 H2O}$ or $\ce{NaBO3 · 4 H2O}$ formula, and it was demonstrated that the correct formula unit is $\ce{Na2B2(O2)2(OH)4 · 6 H2O}$ and the name should indeed be sodium peroxoborate due to the presence of "the double peroxo bridge connecting two boron atoms" (I suggest having a look at this short communication from 1961: it's a great example of a concise and literal data presentation with effective illustrations).

A comment left in section "Per-acids of non-metals" in Wells' Structural Inorganic Chemistry [3, p. 422] is also quite peculiar (reference number updated; emphasis mine):

The demonstration that the sodium peroxoborate, originally written $\ce{NaBO3 · 4 H2O}$ or $\ce{NaBO2 · H2O2 · 3 H2O}$, is in fact $\ce{Na2[B2(O2)2(OH)4] · 6 H2O}$ [2] containing the cyclic ion of Fig. 11.2(a), with $\ce{O-O},$ 1.47 Å as in $\ce{H2O2},$ suggests that speculation about the structures of these compounds is less profitable than X-ray crystallographic examination.

Fig. 11.2(a)

More recent textbooks also often make a note that it's more correctly to use peroxoborate, yet perborate is a more popular name due to above-mentioned historical background of borates in cleaning industry. For example:

  • Büchel's Industrial Inorganic Chemistry [4, p. 24]:

    Sodium perborate (more correctly sodium peroxoborate) …

  • Structure and Bonding, vol. 105 [5, p. 35]:

    Peroxoborate salts, commonly referred to as perborates, …


  1. Tanatar, S. Perborate Und Ihre Konstitution. Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie 1898, 26U (1). https://doi.org/10/ggbdvm. (in German)
  2. Arne Hansson; Fredga, A.; Sjöberg, B.; Dam, H.; Sjöberg, B.; Toft, J. On the Crystal Structure of Hydrated Sodium Peroxoborate. Acta Chem. Scand. 1961, 15, 934–935. https://doi.org/10/bhnnth. (Free Access: PDF)
  3. Wells, A. F. Structural Inorganic Chemistry, 4th ed.; Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1975. ISBN 978-0-19-855354-0.
  4. Büchel, K. H. Industrial Inorganic Chemistry, 2nd, completed rev. ed ed.; Wiley-VCH: Weinheim ; New York, 2000. ISBN 978-3-527-29849-5.
  5. Group 13 Chemistry III; Roesky, H. W., Atwood, D. A., Eds.; Structure and Bonding; Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg, 2006; Vol. 105. https://doi.org/10.1007/3-540-46110-8.
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This is necessarily not a chemistry answer but is a continuation of aventurin's answer.

Google ngram viewer is an online search engine h that charts frequencies of any word or short sentence found in the sources printed between 1800 and 2012 in American English, British English etc.

So, here is the Google ngram for peroxoborate and perborate. enter image description here

So, you can see that perborate is more often used than peroxoborate. Though, the correct name (IUPAC name) is tetrahydroxidodi-µ-peroxido-diborate, people often mention the compound sodium perborate. Sodium peroxoborate seems to be obsolete.

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The correct IUPAC name is disodium tetrahydroxidodi-µ-peroxido-diborate.

This name describes the structure with two bridging peroxido groups.

Source: Wikipedia

However, perborate or peroxoborate are well known and more often used.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but which is more often used: perborate or peroxoborate? $\endgroup$ – Nilay Ghosh May 17 '16 at 3:21

No, the names refer to different compounds. Attached below are their Lewis representations.

enter image description here

enter image description here

I should add that these structures were arrived at using Chemdraw's name to structure conversion. And it appears that this representation of perborate violates the octet rule. So this may be incorrect.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes it's very much incorrect. Read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_perborate $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Feb 11 '16 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. I've seen that. But take a look at this compound. There seems to be conflicting nomenclature in the literature. chemicalbook.com/ChemicalProductProperty_EN_CB7214578.htm $\endgroup$ – T. Kent Feb 11 '16 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ "simplistic NaBO3·nH2O-type formulas are just a convenient way to express the average chemical composition" Seems site you're citing didn't care $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Feb 11 '16 at 1:50
  • $\begingroup$ Here's another example illustrating the seemingly conflicting nomenclature associated with the compound. orgsyn.org/demo.aspx?prep=CV9P0522 $\endgroup$ – T. Kent Feb 11 '16 at 2:51
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The drawn lewis representation of 'perborate' is grossly incorrect. $\endgroup$ – permeakra Feb 11 '16 at 7:18

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