Borium is a lot harder than Jello, but it does have one thing in common with the potluck staple: It’s actually a brand name that typically gets applied to a whole class of products.
Borium is probably the best-known name among the hard-facing products that farriers add to horseshoes for added traction or to extend shoe life. It’s easy for the novice farrier to get a bit confused, so here are some of the basics regarding hard-facing products, drawn from past articles that have appeared in American Farriers Journal articles.
Borium is a brand name for a tungsten carbide product made by the Stoody Division of the Thermadyne Company. The type of product is more properly called a tube rod or tube metal. Other brand names include Wear-Trac from Hartwell Industries and E-Bor from Amsterdam Farrier Supply.
In tube rods, fine tungsten carbide particles are encased in a metal tube or rod made mostly of steel. This type of material must be welded to the shoe.
Composite or composite rods are used for similar purposes, but are a different kind of product. In composite rods, larger-sized tungsten carbide particles are bound together within a matrix. The matrix is often referred to as bronze, but is actually a mixture of nickel, copper or brass. Because it melts at a lower temperature, composite rod material can be added to horseshoes using a gas torch or in a forge, with nickel-silver used as a binding agent.
Composite rod brand names include Drill-Tech and Carbraze from Hartwell Industries and EME from Amsterdam Farrier Supply.
Other companies and farrier supply shops make their own hard-facing products.
Choosing The Product
Composite rods come with particles of varying “screen” sizes. Generally, most farriers use a middle-of-the-road screen size in the 6 to 10 range.
A smaller particle size may give more traction than a larger one because the smaller particles give the surface more “teeth.”
Tube rods usually have smaller carbide particles than those found in composite rods.
Composite rods are usually preferred for horses that will be used primarily on pavement. Tube rods are better for conditions that are softer and grittier. For horses working in both types of footing, farriers have to use their own judgment.