Friday, 19 October 2012

Borax versus Borax Substitute

This discussion regarding using Borax or Borax substitute, seems to be appearing again on posts so thought I would share my views. Notice I say, my views, I am not trying to tell you what to do before any of you get annoyed!

There is quite a difference between these two items, both of which can be used in frugal laundry detergent.

Borax Substitute (Sodium Sesquicarbonate)

Is ideal for formulating into laundry powders for low temperature use and cold water fill machines. Its pH allows gentle grease removal especially when aided with surfactants (soap to you and me).  

Sodium Sesquicarbonate is included on the INCI list of cosmetic ingredients and is the industry standard builder for traditional bath salt formulations, treating hard water for a relaxing bath.

The product can also be incorporated safely into bath bombs and bath cubes. It is phosphate free and bio-degradable.

How does the above product compare to Borax itself, which seems to be a whole different animal, although you wouldn't think so on some of the sites I've visited this morning.

Borax (Sodium borate, Sodium tetraborate, or Disodium tetraborate)

Borax, whilst being a natural product, is non-biodegradable and can be used effectively as an herbicide and insecticide! Care should be taken whilst using it, as the powder can be toxic if ingested, gets into the eyes or through prolonged exposure on the skin. 

None of the above risks mean that you shouldn't use borax, just don't use it around food, keep it out of reach of children and pets, and make sure you rinse borax out of clothes and off surfaces before use. 

However, I do feel you need to know (and no on-line places that sell this product seem to mention it), is that Borax was added to the Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) candidate list on 16 December 2010. Substances and mixtures imported into the EU which contain Borax are now required to be labelled with the warnings "May damage fertility" and "May damage the unborn child". It is for that reason that we can only generally buy Borax substitute in shops. On-line is a whole different ball game and the 'warning' label slapped on the front, is quite frankly, enough to put me off using it all the time.

I think it is really a case of 'you pays your money and makes your choice'! 

22 comments:

  1. Borax (Mule Team) is sold in supermarkets here in the States.

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    1. So I gather, its amazing just how many products it is in. Vanish and Astonish Oxy (or Oxi) products contain it plus hydrogen peroxide.

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  2. This is a really informative post. You have given me all the information I needed, simply, without sounding patronising. Thank you very much.

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    1. You are most welcome Nellie.

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    2. Sorry, forgot to add, I am currently adding Wilko Oxi Plus when doing a white wash. It is a mixture of two ingredients, both of which appear to not be too nasty, see this link: http://www.goodguide.com/ingredients/283156-sodium-carbonate-peroxyhydrate

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  3. I bought it for an ant infestation heard that it helps to get rid of ants . Thought I was buying "borax" but instead got borax substitute can anyone tell me if it will still do its job

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    1. Borax can no longer be bought in the uk, only the substitute. I use ant powder, liquid Nippon works very well as they take it back to the nest where it gets fed to the queen plus others.

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    2. For ant killing you need to buy Nippon, which still contains borax and very affective

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    3. I have bought borax and I'm in the UK I get in 5kg from a company in wales

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  4. Hi there
    I read that Borax is an effective flea killer for pet bedding, is this true of the substitute as well ???

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    1. I don't know, maybe this might help
      http://www.biggreensmile.com/products/borax/dpborax.aspx?productid=dpborax

      As Borax seems to dehydrate fleas, maybe salt would work and it might be safer.

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  5. Thank you for your info. I have been looking at making candle wick using Borax and Salt solution... and many youtube videos show the method. My question is, 'Will the 'Borax substitute', that I bought locally here in the UK do the same job as the Real Borax for this process?? No one seems to know.

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    1. I don't know either but if you can't find the answer on the internet then maybe not!

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  6. Excellent post! This answered my question perfectly. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. Thank you for this! I am looking at going full hippy and making my own detergents and whatnot and I was worried I had bought something synthetic and nasty with the substitute, looks like I might have dodged a bullet!

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  8. Glad you enjoyed the read Zan.

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  9. The main reason borax is banned here in the UK is due to the fact it's used in bomb making. I went into Wilko's the once looking for it as I read it was an affective ant killer online. As soon as I asked for it with an assistant you could hear a pin drop. She then asked what I needed it for and explained I had read online how it kills off an ant infestation and thar's when I was told. Must admit scary to kniw about fertility issues as I have those issues and equally scary to know it's used in some ptoducts still avaliable in the UK. Thanks for that additional info.

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  10. Thank you for your post. I am an American ex-pat in Germany, and thought I would start making my own laundry soap again (only now in germany) for my skin allergies. Lo and behold, I cannot get borax... I am happy to see that the substitute breaks up in cold water better. Thanks for the info. I needed it.

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  11. GOOGLE:
    The Borax Conspiracy

    How the Arthritis Cure has been stopped

    Walter Last

    You may not be able to imagine that borax, this humble insecticide and laundry detergent, has the potential of singlehandedly bringing down our entire economic system. But you do not need to worry, the danger has been recognised and the necessary steps are already being taken to defuse the situation. I will start with the basics and you will understand what I mean as the story unfolds.

    Borax is a naturally occurring mineral commonly mined from dried salt lakes, and is the source of other manufactured boron compounds. The main deposits are in California and Turkey. Chemical names are sodium tetraborate decahydrate, disodium tetraborate decahydrate, or simply sodium borate. This means it contains four atoms of boron as its central feature combined with two sodium atoms and ten molecules (or sometimes less) of crystallisation water - decahydrate means 10 water molecules, pentahydrate 5, and anhydrate or anhydrous borax means no crystallisation water; chemically it is all the same.

    Borax is commonly sold as technical or agricultural grade with 99 to 99.5% minimum purity. Potential impurities consist of sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, bicarbonate, carbonate, sulphate and phosphate but not toxic or heavy metals. This grade includes the borax commonly used as household cleaner. Pharmaceutical grade is not noticeably purer or better.

    Borax is the sodium salt of the weak boric acid. Because sodium is more strongly alkaline, this makes a solution of borax strongly alkaline with a pH between 9 and 10 (pH 7 is neutral). When ingested, it reacts with hydrochloric acid in the stomach to form boric acid and sodium chloride. The boron content of Borax is 11.3% while for boric acid it is 17.5% or about 50% higher. Ingested boron compounds are rapidly and nearly completely excreted with the urine. Formerly boric acid was widely used as a preservative in foods but is now banned for this purpose in most countries, and is also banned from public sale in Australia.

    According to conventional medicine it is not known if boron is essential for humans but research shows that we do need it. The reason why it was difficult to answer this question is the presence of boron in all plants and unprocessed foods. Diets with a fair amount of fruit and vegetables provide about 2 to 5 mg of boron per day, but this also depends on the region where the food was grown and how it was grown.

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  12. I tried using substitute borax instead of normal borax in a recipe for slime but it is supposed to be portable and not too messy. Now my current mixture is too runny.How could i make it fluffier?

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