Borax is often regarded as a great ingredient for natural cleaning recipes like household cleaners and even in home beauty products as a preservative. It’s a recipe in my popular Cleaner All-Purpose and laundry detergent so I’ve gotten so many questions about the safety of borax decided it deserved more research and their own post.
borax of equipment variety of mule is sodium tetraborate or sodium borate (for all official of a second) and NO boric acid (borate hydrogen), which is a common mistake apparently interwebs.
sodium tetraborate (hereinafter, borax) is a salt of boric acid, but is not chemically the same as boric acid. If you’ve read an article stating that borax is dangerous to say about the dangers of boric acid or says they are the same thing, I would not consider that Article credible article.
vs. boric acid borax vs Sodium borate
Both are used as natural pesticides, which is probably the reason for the error, but the boric acid carries a risk of toxicity to a much lower dose than borax ago if swallowed.
borax is used in the process of making boric acid, but there is a tremendous chemical difference between the two. Borax is a natural mineral, although, of course, that does not make it inert or safe. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metalloid, but it is not safe for human use. Natural does not always mean security.
At the same time, the studies used to support safety (or risk) of borax often use boric acid or are ambiguous in that was used.
data product safety in borax also combines borax and boric acid, and it is unclear what substance the various warnings apply, but the precautions such as:
This product is white, odorless, crystalline powder. Direct eye contact can cause severe irritation with redness, pain, blurred vision, and possibly corneal injury. Repeated or prolonged overexposure may cause skin irritation.
No chronic health effects of the intended use of these products or predictable handling them in the workplace are expected. However, the following effects have been reported for a component, sodium borate, and boric acid. sodium borate entry into the body becomes boric acid. sodium borate and boric acid interfere with sperm production, damage to the testicles and interfere with male fertility when animals administered orally in high doses.
So the most threatening warnings related to borax (including boric acid) substances refer to skin contact, eye contact or when “da .by mouth at high doses.”
Do you know what else can irritate the eyes and skin and even cause digestive problems at high doses? Vinegar and the essential oil of oregano (cornea caused a burn on my mother) and cayenne pepper, probably, too. That does not mean that those things are not safe, but only to be used safely. Borax is extremely alkaline, which makes it irritating when used undiluted
makes sense not to use any form :. Borax, sodium borate or boric acid as eyewash, skin scrub or drink, but it does not answer the question about whether the indirect contact occasionally (on things like cleaning products) is safe.
This data sheet does give borax a safety rating of “1”, which is the same as baking soda and salt. (I would not recommend putting those eyes or if large quantities in the skin constantly or ingestion of large quantities every day either)
The Environmental Working Group lists borax as a safety rating of 5- 6, although once again, the studies used contained both borax and boric acid and warnings refers to ingestion, eye contact or prolonged use undiluted.
What is boron?
Boron is a chemical element (atomic number 5) and a fascinating character (because I’m an idiot and easily fascinated by chemistry). There is a biological need boron in small quantities, and things in family of boron are considered non-toxic to humans but dangerous for insects (hence the use as a pesticide):
biology, borates have low toxicity in mammals (similar to table salt), but are more toxic to arthropods and are used as insecticides. Boric acid is slightly antimicrobial, antibiotic and an organic boron containing naturally known. Boron is essential for life. Small amounts of boron compounds play a reinforcing role in the cell walls of all plants, thus requiring boron in soils. Experiments indicate a role for boron as ultratrace element in animals, but their role in animal physiology is unknown.
Back to toxic borax … or not?
There are a lot of confounding factors based on the source. The main points that I found in the research were:
- Current warnings for the use of borax refer to avoid eye contact, skin contact undiluted and ingestion
- borax food use was banned by the FDA. and the ECA (European Chemicals Agency) considers a substance of great concern, but did not provide any documentation other than dangers ground level
- I could not find any studies that proved to be a danger to borax products natural cleaning in diluted quantities provided that did not reach the eyes or ingested.
- The base data Base skin borax classified as moderate risk, but most studies and advertisements related to the use of borax in food.
The baseline: Is it safe borax
I could not find any data that was convincing enough for me to avoid borax natural powder completely ?. Obviously, I do not eat or feel comfortable to use in cosmetic or food.
At the same time, most of the products I use borax (like purpose cleaner and laundry detergent ) are not in direct contact, undiluted with my skin, I will not ingesting them and I’m not putting in or near the eyes, so that most of the concerns and warnings borax are invalid.
Also, I’m using homemade products with borax to replace things like regular laundry or cleaning products that qualify as “D” or “F” on the basis of GTA data detergent .
borax is a safer alternative and effective natural cleaner than many conventional cleaning products. Yes, it is also a pesticide, but a natural one (and great at getting rid of ants- here’s a great tutorial ) but I am yet to find conclusive evidence that it is safe or harmful to humans (apart from if swallowed, he rubbed his eyes, etc).
borax still consider safe for use in the natural cleansing, but absolutely do your own research and make sure you are using in any capacity. I use a borax natural powder from Mountain Rose Herbs so it is free of any added surfactants or detergents but Mule Team Borax also considered a pure / natural borax.
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