Can you eat borax?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question, “Can you eat borax?” with an in-depth analysis of borax, uses of borax, health risks associated with consuming borax, alternatives to borax and ways to safely use borax.

Can you eat borax?

No, you can not eat borax. Consumption of borax can be toxic and may lead to serious side effects. 

Borax can be easily broken down by the body when inhaled or swallowed. Ingestion or inhalation of borax can cause severe poisoning and organ damage.

Consuming borax can also lead to reproductive problems, including problems concerning testes, fetuses, and fertility.

What is borax?

Borax is a white powdery mineral, also identified as sodium tetraborate, sodium borate, or disodium tetraborate. It is popularly used as a household detergent and a booster for laundry soap. It is a mixture of sodium, boron, and oxygen. 

Uses of borax

Borax is used for various purposes:

  • It helps to get rid of stains, mould, and fungus around the house.
  • It is used to get rid of insects including ants.
  • It is effectively used in laundry detergents and household cleaners to help whiten and to eliminate dirt.
  • It can offset bad smells and soften hard water.
  • Borax is also used in cosmetic products as an emulsifier, buffering agent, or preservative for shampoos, moisturizing products, creams, gels, scrubs, lotions, bath bombs, and bath salts.
  • Borax is also used to make slime- a gooey material many kids love to play with.

Is borax same as boric acid?

Though borax is formed from the same chemical complex as boric acid and even looks similar. But while borax is mostly used in cleaning, boric acid is commonly used as a pesticide. Boric acid destroys insects by attacking their digestive and nervous systems. 

Both boric acid and borax in powdered form can be dangerous if eaten, especially for children. They can also cause skin irritation.

The health risks of consuming borax

Exposure to borax leads to several adverse health effects in humans. These include:

Irritation

Borax can cause skin or eyes irritation and can also lead to skin burns when exposed. Symptoms of borax exposure include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Skin rash
  • Eye irritation
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Mouth infection
  • Hormone problems

High exposure to borax may lead to hormonal disruption. It may particularly damage reproduction in males, reducing their libido and sperm count. Similarly, borax may decrease fertility and ovulation in women. 

Toxicity

Borax easily breaks down in the body when inhaled or ingested. Exposure to borax leads to organ damage and serious poisonings. Even exposure to borax found in cosmetics is considered toxic. 

Death

Even if 5 to 10 grams of borax is ingested by a child, they may experience severe diarrhoea, vomiting, shock and also death. Children that play with slime made up of borax are at greater risk of ingesting slime through hand-to-mouth transfer.

For adults, an estimated amount of 10 to 25 grams of borax is considered to be fatal.

Some alternatives to borax

Significant health risks are associated with borax exposure. Safer alternatives to borax-containing products are available to reduce health risks associated with borax. Some secure alternatives to borax include:

  • Disinfectants such as salt, food-grade hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, half a lemon, and essential oils.
  • Clothing detergents such as baking soda, powdered or liquid oxygen bleach, and washing soda.
  • Mould and mildew killers such as white vinegar or salt.
  • Cosmetics consisting of natural components other than borax.

How to safely use borax

Below are some safety tips to safely consume borax:

  • Never use cosmetic products that include borax.
  • Do not inhale the borax powder. Always keep it at a safe distance from your mouth.
  • When using borax for cleaning purposes in the house, always wear gloves.
  • Thoroughly wash the area you are cleaning with water after using borax.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after handling borax if it spills on your skin.
  • Make sure to thoroughly rinse the clothes washed with borax before drying and wearing them.
  • Always place borax in an area away from the reach of children. Never utilise borax to make slime with children.
  • Do not bring borax near your nose, mouth, and eyes when using it as a cleaning product to minimize your risks of exposure.
  • Cover any exposed cuts on your skin when using borax to reduce your risk of exposure as borax is more easily absorbed through open cuts on the skin.

Conclusion

In this short article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat borax?” with an in-depth analysis of borax, uses of borax, health risks associated with consuming borax, alternatives to borax and ways to safely use borax.

If you’ve enjoyed ”Can you eat borax?”, take a look at ”Can you get sick from eating snow?” too.

References 

https://www.healthline.com/health/is-borax-safe
https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/borax-sodium-tetraborate
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324167#risks
https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/is-borax-toxic

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.