Is Borax Toxic? Understanding the Risks of Borax
A new question we are getting is, “Is borax toxic?” Experts say there is not enough scientific research to support recent health claims of consuming borax.
Recent videos on TikTok have falsely suggested that adding a small amount of borax to your water can provide a range of health benefits. Borax is used in various types of products, including cleaners, detergents, cosmetics, ant or roach killers, and supplements. While these products can be used safely, accidental exposure or misuse of them poses risk for poisoning.
What is the Difference Between Borax and Boron?
Some videos have suggested confusion between boron and borax. Boron is a naturally occurring element found in a variety of foods, such as avocados, raisins, and peaches. Its biological functions are not completely understood. Borax is different in that it is a chemical compound of sodium, hydrogen, oxygen, and boron. Borax interacts with the body in a different way than boron. Ingesting any amount of borax is not recommended.
Are there Health Benefits of Borax?
There are claims that borax can help treat conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis, hormone imbalance, and infections. There is not enough scientific research or evidence to support these health claims. Borax is not an FDA approved drug to treat these conditions.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Borax Poisoning?
Products containing borax are involved in a number of cases reported to Poison Centers. Often, children are accidentally exposed through liquid ant bait traps, laundry powder, or while making homemade slime. Most children who accidentally ingest borax will have minimal symptoms. Adults are exposed to borax when misusing borax powder by ingesting it as a supplement or using it to soak in. When accidentally ingested, borax can irritate the stomach causing nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
So is borax toxic? When any product containing borax is intentionally consumed in larger amounts, or used daily, more severe symptoms can occur. This includes:
- Excessive drowsiness
- Kidney problems, including kidney failure
If borax gets on the skin, it can cause skin irritation and bright-red rashes that may be delayed a number of days. Severe rashes can cause areas of the skin to fall off.
First Aid for Treating a Borax Exposure:
If someone has ingested any product containing borax, give them a drink to rinse out their mouth. Do not force the person to throw up. If someone has been exposed on their skin, wash the area with plenty of soap and water and remove any contaminated clothing. If a product has gotten in someone’s eyes, flush the eyes with lukewarm water for 15 minutes.
Using Borax Products Safely:
- Store any products containing borax out of reach of children. This includes products such as cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, supplements, and pesticides.
- Keep any products containing borax away from foods and drinks while using them for cleaning, or while making homemade slime.
- Use products according to the instructions on their product labels.
- Talk with your health care provider if you are considering using over the counter supplements containing borax. Never use a non-pharmaceutical product (i.e., laundry powder) as a supplement.
- Do not bathe in water containing borax.
What You Need to Know About Borax:
- There is not enough scientific research or evidence to support health claims that borax can help treat conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis, hormone imbalance, and infections.
- When any product containing borax is intentionally consumed in larger amounts, or used daily, borax can cause more severe symptoms, including seizures and kidney problems.
- Store any products containing borax out of reach of children.
- If you have questions or if someone has been exposed to borax, contact the Poison Help line or PoisonHelp.org for additional resources.