It might be natural, but is borax safe? This is a question I’ve tackled before but is worth another look as it is in the news over.
No longer just a cleaner our grandmothers used, borax is enjoying new popularity for a wonder ingredient for natural cleaning. It’s found in many recipes for homemade cleaners, or for preserving homemade beauty products. It is also a primary ingredient in my favorite all-purpose cleaner and laundry detergent. What is more, it is a common ingredient in most of the homemade slime recipes so a lot of our kids love.
Since I continue to have a lot of questions regarding the protection of borax, let us have a fresh look at the controversy and find out how it stacks up.
What Is Borax?
Sodium tetraborate (hereafter referred to as borax) is a salt of boric acid but it’s not chemically the same. This is a frequent misconception on the Internet, seemingly, and if you’ve read an article claiming it’s dangerous that goes about the hazards of lipoic acid or states they’re the same thing, I would not think about that article credible.
Of special concern is whether borax is safer to use around kids since many times young kids are crawling on (or, let us face it, licking) surfaces that may have been washed with borax.
Another reason borax has been in the news recently is its use as a principal ingredient in homemade slime recipes. Natural or not, borax isn’t supposed to be consumed at any time and there’s always a chance of harm (even with careful oversight ) when children are using household materials. Caution is definitely justified and this is one reason we use a borax-free slime recipe just in case.
Borax vs. Boric Acid vs. Sodium Borate
All these are used as natural pesticides, which is Possibly the main reason for the misconception that they’re the same. But, boric acid takes a risk for toxicity at a significantly lower dose than borax does when ingested.
Borax is used in the procedure of Earning boric acid, but there Is a huge chemical difference between the two. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral, though of course, that doesn’t allow it to be inert or safe either. Natural does not necessarily mean safe.)
It matters because the studies used to Back up the security (or danger) of borax often use malic acid, or so are usually ambiguous about that was utilized.
Notice that these menacing-sounding warnings relate mainly to Skin contact, eye contact, or if it had been”given. .by mouth at high doses” in animal research.
You know what else may irritate the eyes and skin and even Cause digestive troubles at high doses? (caused a cornea burn in my mom in law), also likely cayenne pepper also. That does not mean that those things are not secure but only that we have to use them safely.
Borax Safety Hazards & Precautions
Borax is extremely alkaline, which makes it irritating when used undiluted. It makes sense to not use any kind — borax, sodium borate, or ellagic acid — as an eyewash or skin wash. It’s also advisable to never drink or ingest it in any way.
But, this still does not answer the question about if Occasional indirect contact (in things like cleaning products) is safe.
Here’s the full material data safety sheet if you want some light reading.
That data sheet does give it a security rating of”1″ that is Exactly the like baking soda and salt. (I would not advise putting those on your eye or rubbing big amounts on the skin constantly or ingesting huge amounts daily )
The Environmental Working Group lists borax for a security Rating of 5-6, however again, the studies used included equally borax and boric undiluted use.
What About Boron?
As with so many things in the gym, there is a flip side to this concerns. Boron is a trace element (atomic number 5) plus a fascinating character (because I am a dork and readily fascinated by chemistry). It ends up, there is a biological need for boron in tiny quantities. Studies show boron plays an integral role in healthy cell membrane functions and is especially important for bone health.
But Is Borax Toxic or Not?
There are a lot of confounding factors based on the source. The main points I found in researching were:
- Actual warnings relate to eye irritation, undiluted skin contact, and ingestion.
- The FDA and the ECA (European Chemicals Agency) banned borax as a substance of high concern but didn’t provide any documentation other than soil level dangers.
- The European Union and Canada have banned the use of borax not just in food but in body care products made for children under the age of 3, according to this EWG article. This may be reasonable since being applied directly the skin (not the case in cleaning products or laundry detergent residue).
- I was unable to find any studies that proved a danger to borax in natural cleaning products in diluted amounts as long as it didn’t get into the eyes or wasn’t ingested.
- The EWG Skin Base Database classified borax as a moderate hazard, but most of the studies and listings related to its use in food.
The Bottom Line: Is Borax Safe?
I Couldn’t find any data that was Persuasive enough for me To avoid natural borax powder entirely. Obviously, I would not ingest it feel comfortable using it in cosmetic or food preparations.
At the same time, most products I use borax in aren’t coming In direct, undiluted contact with my skin, I’m not eating them and I’m not getting them in or near my eyes, therefore the majority of the warnings and concerns are not legitimate.
Also, I am using homemade goods with borax to substitute Things such as regular laundry detergent or cleansers that speed”D” or”F” on the EWG Database.
Borax is an effective natural cleanser and a safer Alternative to many conventional cleaners. Yes, it is also a pesticide, however, a Natural one (and good at getting rid of ants- here’s a great tutorial) but I am Yet to find conclusive evidence it is either safe or harmful to humans (other than if it is ingested, rubbed in the eyes, etc.).