Borax powder is a multipurpose item that can be used in all kinds of ways from making slime for the kids to doing your laundry. Products made with borax powder are available at retailers, but it’s easy to make your own borax powder and products that are free of some of the chemicals that might be present in commercial borax items.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Grind boric acid crystals into a fine powder to make a product that can serve several practical purposes in your home.
Making Borax Powder
To make your own borax powder, start by purchasing boric acid crystals at your local hardware store or an online retailer. Boric acid is widely available in powdered form, and the liquid form is often used in ant and roach traps, but you can also buy it in crystal form. Using a grinder that you never use for food, pulverize the crystals until a fine powdery substance forms.
You can use your homemade borax powder in a variety of ways.
- For an effective roach repellent, mix one part borax powder with one part flour plus a dusting of powdered sugar to attract the bugs. Sprinkle small portions of it in areas where roaches frequent, making sure to keep it away from kids and pets.
- You can also use it to clean stubborn stains. Pouring half a cup of borax powder into a toilet for a half-hour releases grime, making it easy to scrub away stains, while simultaneously neutralizing unpleasant odors.
- If you’re hoping to get rid of rust, mix two cups of warm water, one cup of borax powder, and a half cup of lemon juice. Let the pastelike material sit on rusty pots and pans for about an hour and then rinse it off. At that point, the rust should be easy to scrub away with soap and warm water.
Uses for Borax
Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a mineral found naturally in soil and plants across the globe. Borax was first discovered in dry lake beds in Tibet, and since then, people have figured out ways to use the mineral for practical purposes.
Its ability to soften water and suspend soap particles makes it a popular ingredient for products like detergents, shampoos, shower gels and cleaning products. Thanks to its high alkalinity, it is also an effective odor neutralizer. When it is combined with citric acid, borax produces a fizziness that makes it a popular ingredient in cleansing products like bath bombs. Powdered borax can also be used as a pest repellent, which is especially useful in areas where it’s difficult to fit large traps.
People also turn to borax for fun. It’s one of the ingredients used to make slime, the stretch, gooey craft that kids love to squish.
It’s important to understand how to handle borax safely. Typically, borax is used in small quantities and in diluted solutions that researchers consider safe and nontoxic for human interaction.
Still, it’s smart to proceed with care. Avoid vigorously scrubbing your skin with products that use borax and keep them away from the eye area. If you use a pure form of borax as a pest repellent or an odor neutralizer, always handle it with gloves and keep it away from babies or pets who run the risk of accidentally ingesting it.
Although borax is generally considered a safe mineral, some people have reported sensitivity to any contact with borax. If you find that you’re particularly sensitive to it, keep your eye on labels. Products with names like liquid starch, saline solution, sodium borate, tetraborate and boric acid could all contain borax, and you may want to stay away.
- Always wear gloves when working with boric acid.
- You can also make borax powder from the mineral sassolite, which is the naturally occurring form of borax in hot springs and other mineral-rich locations.
About the Author
Rachelle Dragani is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn with extensive experience covering the latest innovation and development in the world of science. Her pieces on topics including DNA sequencing, tissue engineering and stem cell advances have been featured in publications including BioTechniques: the International Journal of Life Science Methods, Popular Mechanics, Futurism and Gizmodo.