What is Borax and is it safe?

The question of what Borax is and also whether it’s safe comes up a lot online and at the market. It is a main ingredient in our Grammy’s Sweet Lemon Laundry Sauce as well as our Dishwasher Detergent and Dish It Up Soap. We absolutely love it! However, like everyone else we wanted to dig into the nitty-gritty and find out what the fuss is all about?

Borax is sodium tetraborate or sodium borate. Many people confuse this with boric acid, hydrogen borate. Borax is actually a salt of boric acid and does not have the same chemical characteristics.  If you have ever googled articles about the dangers of Borax and have read articles in opposition to Borax  typically they are referring to boric acid please take them with a grain of salt, literally. They are comparing apples and oranges.

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral. The product safety data on Borax combines borax and boric acid cautions, and it is unclear which substance the various warnings pertain to. The most extreme warnings about borax mention skin contact, eye contact or eaten in high doses. There are everyday items in our kitchen such as vinegar, essential oils and even organic pepper can have these same effects. That does not make these things unsafe but just that they must be used correctly and in moderation. Borax is alkaline and when it is not diluted it can cause irritation.

Here’s the full material data safety sheet if you want some light reading.

That data sheet does give borax a safety rating of “1” which is the same as baking soda and salt. (I wouldn’t recommend putting those in your eye or rubbing large amounts on the skin constantly or ingesting large amounts daily either)

The Environmental Working Group lists Borax as a safety rating of 5-6, though again, the studies used contained both borax and boric acid and the warnings referred to ingestion, eye contact or prolonged undiluted use.

So Is Borax Safe?

We did not find any evidence  that was compelling enough for us to avoid using Borax in our cleaners. We do not recommend that you eat it or rub it on your skin without first diluting it.All of our products use a safe, diluted amount and are not recommended for uses other than cleaning.

Consider the warning labels on major box store brands and then weigh the risks for yourself! Borax is an effective natural cleaner and a safer alternative either way you cut it. Yes it can be used as a pesticide, but it’s a natural one.We mix it with a bit of sugar and leave it out for the ants when we see them!

Our favorite brand is Mule Team Borax and it is considered pure and natural.

Please let us know! Do you use Borax? Do you consider it safe?