The Many Uses of Borax

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Sodium tetraborate decahydrate, commonly known as borax, is a natural mineral made of sodium, boron, oxygen and water, and is a good thing to have in your storage. It has many uses in your home, and if kept in a dry location, the shelf life of borax is virtually unlimited.

Borax and pest control

  • Keep roaches, waterbugs, and ants away by sprinkling a combination of equal parts all-natural borax and sugar.
  • Keep the mice out by sprinkling borax on the floor along the wall.
  • Kill fleas by sprinkling borax on your carpet.  Leave it for an hour and vacuum it up thoroughly.
  • Combine cornmeal with borax. Pour into shallow dishes and place them in areas where pests are a problem.

General uses for borax

  • Make an all-purpose cleaner by mixing 2 tablespoons borax and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle.
  • You can remove oxidation from metals with borax. The ingredient is also used as a flux in welding.
  • As a laundry detergent, add one cup of borax to each load and significantly boost your cleaning power.
  • Make your own dishwasher detergent by mixing 1 tablespoons borax and 1 tablespoons baking soda.
  • For removing urine odors from a mattress, wet the mattress rub in borax with a damp cloth. Let dry, then vacuum up the remaining residue.
  • Just 1/2 cup of borax poured down drains will help unclog them.
  • Pour 1 cup of borax into toilet bowls at night and in the morning, scrub bowl with a toilet brush.
  • A paste of water and borax can scrub away sticky residue from adhesives.

Borax for homemade candle wicks

This is an unusual application of borax but will help homemade candles produce less ash and smoke.

  • Dissolve 2 tbsp. table salt and 4 tbsp. borax in 1 1/2 c. warm water.
  • Soak a 1-foot length of regular cotton kite string or twine in the solution for 15 minutes.
  • Hang the string with a clothespin for five days to be sure it is completely dry.
  • Use a paper clip to dip the string in melted wax three or four times, coating it completely. Hang it up to dry as before.
  • Store wicks rolled up in a newspaper.

Is borax toxic?

Safety Source for Pest Management states the following regarding uses and toxicity.

“While exposure to boric acid has been linked to adverse health effects, experts agree that careful application offers a safe and effective alternative without the indoor air problems associated with sprays. Boron is a naturally-occurring element in the earth’s crust and background levels even circulate in the human bloodstream. Boric acid’s exposure risks are minimal because of its method of application.

However, while boric acid has become one of the chemicals of choice for many urban pest control programs, it can be toxic. EPA considers boric acid as a moderately acutely toxic due to acute effects including oral and dermal toxicity, and eye and skin irritation. EPA’s reregistration document states that a subchronic borax feeding study using dogs resulted in blood and metabolism disorders as well as effects to the testes, endocrine system, brain weight, and size ratios among various organs and glands. In chronic oncogenicity studies using mice, rats and beagle dogs, boric acid and borax were found not to be carcinogenic; however, testicular effects and decreases in body weight resulted at high dose levels. EPA has classified boric acid as a “Group E” carcinogen, indicating that it shows “evidence of noncarcinogenicity” for humans. In reproductive and developmental toxicity studies using rats, mice and rabbits, maternal liver and kidney effects and decreased weight gain as well as decreased fetal body weights were observed. In two studies, at the highest dose levels, no litters were produced. Prenatal mortality occurred at the highest dose levels in the rabbit study. Boric acid does not cause mutagenicity (U.S. EPA 1993).”

This is a good item to keep in your storage, just use some common sense. It is inexpensive and readily available in most grocery stores. You’ll find it in the laundry soap aisle.

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