Actually, there are quite a few answers to that, and this is one of the most common questions I see in my email. In my mind, the jury was still out on the safety of Borax, so I put together a recipe for Borax-free liquid laundry soap, and it’s been one of our most popular posts here at Cheeky Bums. I wasn’t ready to jump on anybody’s bandwagon until I had looked into it…
Come to find out, Borax is actually a “hot topic” in the natural world and you’ll find a myriad of results if you google it. Obviously, it has quite a few people confused…
After doing some research, there are a few things I DO know for sure…
The most important thing to realize is that Borax (Sodium Borate) is not the same as Boric Acid. Boric Acid is highly acidic and toxic and is made by mixing Borax with another acid, such as sulfuric. The end result is a highly acidic compound, where as Borax is alkaline.
Borax is generally safe, as long as you aren’t consuming large quantities of it. (um. ick.)
Borax CAN cause mild skin irritation but it does not readily absorb through the skin. Personally, I’m guessing that it’s an irritant because of it’s highly alkaline state, and it causes irritation, just like baking soda could. Some people may be more sensitive to it than others. Rest assured though, it is shown to have no bio-accumulation (it doesn’t build up in your system) because it does not absorb through your skin.
However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists Borax at a 5-6 hazard level (or moderate level) depending on usage, and this has left a lot of all-natural, hippy, crunchy green people with their panties in a knot. This is based on the fact that the European Union Classification & Labelling Department cites limited evidence of reproductive toxicity – and though the information is sketchy, the best that I can tell is that this is from rats that ingested LARGE amount of Borax over a a span of time (again. um. ick. who would do that?)
So my personal take on it?
I’m not going to lose sleep over it and I may start using it in my laundry again. Initially, I came up with the Borax-free laundry soap recipe because I had two little girls in cloth diapers that had extremely sensitive skin and I didn’t want to ruin a good thing. In hindsight, I don’t regret going without it, but after reading up on it, I’m not quite as concerned about using it as I once was.
What are your thoughts? Do you use Borax around the house?