The minerals that make up the borates have similarities with the silicates. Borates have:
- they have a structure to the silicon-oxygen tetrahedron (BO3)
- they are capable of forming chains, sheet, or isolated groups
The tendency of the borates is to form disordered networks of BO3 triangles instead of the framework network of the silicates. This makes borate minerals useful in the preparation of special glasses of lightweight and high transparency to energetic radiation.
Because of the scarcity and limited distribution of boron in the Earth's crust, there are only a few borates that can be considered common.