_10H2O), the most widespread borate mineral was found to help
remove dirt from people and cloth. Borax is crumbly and powdery, and
dissolves easily in water. Borax became an alternative to the very harsh
soap which was used prior to the discovery of borax in the late 1800's.
This light and easy to use substance was hailed the world over as a
washing, cleansing, antiseptic, preservative, and medicine miracle.
In the 1880s, large borate deposits were
discovered in Death Valley, California. However, the Death Valley borate
deposits were located almost 170 miles from the nearest railway. In
order to get the borate to the railway economically, the owners of the
Death Valley mines used large wagons pulled by teams of 20 mules. The
detergents made from this borate were thus sold as "20 Mule Team
A 20 mule team hauling borax in Death Valley