News from CRIS: Trending - Borax

August 1, 2023

What is borax?

Borax is a compound containing boron, sodium, oxygen, and water (chemical formula: (Na2B4O7·10H2O). It is commonly used as a cleaning agent, laundry booster, and insecticide.

It is NOT a food-grade substance, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved it for human consumption as a food or beverage.

Is borax the same as boron?

No, borax is not the same as born. While both borax and boron are naturally occurring, borax isn't a food-grade substance. Rather, we use it for cleaning and other purposes.

Boron is a naturally occurring element found in the Earth's crust that’s essential for plant growth. We find it in varying concentrations in different foods. While not classified as a traditional essential nutrient, some research suggests that boron could have several health benefits when consumed in appropriate amounts (1).

Should I drink borax?

No, you should not drink borax. Drinking borax will not improve your health. In fact, it may cause adverse health events.

Will drinking or consuming borax cause harm?

Drinking and consuming borax cause harm, including headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, red eyes, and more severe adverse health impacts at high levels.

If you're based in the United States, and you or someone you know has consumed borax, contact the poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222. It's available 24/7 and connects you to a local poison control center.

Otherwise, contact your local healthcare professional for medical assistance.

How should I use borax?

Borax has a wide range of applications, including:

  • Cleaning: It is commonly used as a cleaning agent and a laundry booster due to its ability to remove stains and deodorize clothes.

  • Pest Control: Borax can be used as an insecticide to control pests like ants, cockroaches, and fleas. However, it should be used with caution, particularly around pets and children.

  • Crafts and Hobbies: Borax is used in various crafts and DIY projects, such as making slime or preserving flowers.

Do I need to consume boron?

Some studies suggest that boron-rich foods can be beneficial to our health. Some research even suggests that boron may be an essential trace mineral. However, it's not conclusive that humans need to consume boron (1).

That said, we find boron naturally in many foods and beverages we consume regularly.


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