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What is borax in Australia?
What is borax? Borax (also known as boron, sodium borate, or sodium tetraborate) is a mineral found in nature. The compound has several uses, although it is most commonly found in multi-purpose cleaning products, cosmetics, and homemade slime. Borax has powerful antifungal properties.
Where does borax come from?
Boron doesn’t have ‘ingredients’, it occurs naturally around the world in what is called ‘evaporite deposits’, which are mineral deposits caused by the evaporation of lakes. The biggest borax deposits in the world are found in Turkey and the United States, but the compound has also been found in Chile, Tibet, and Romania. Synthetic borax can also be made in a lab from other boron compounds.
The #1 use for borax is in household cleaning. There are plenty of companies that manufacture borax-based cleaning products such as surface sprays, dish soap, and laundry detergents. Use borax as an ant killer (or for general pest control), or as a water softening agent. Its antifungal properties also make it a great choice for treating mildew or fungal infections in humans.
Other uses for borax include enamel glazes, as a ceramics component, coating for dry-cured meats, and even as an emulsifier or preservative in cosmetic products like moisturisers, scrubs, and shampoos. Borax is also used to make homemade ‘slime’, which is safe for your kids to play with. Some people even use borax for arthritis healing and recovery!
Borax vs boric acid: are they the same?
Borax is actually the salt of boric acid, which is to say that while the two are related and come from the same mineral, they are different chemically. Boric acid is hydrogen borate, which is produced when borax is processed and purified.
Boric acid, like borax, can be used as an insect killer or pesticide. It can also be used for slime toys for your kids. But boric acid is also more toxic than borax, and should, therefore, be handled with much more care. If you’re buying borax from a grocery store, always check the label to make sure you’re not getting boric acid.
What forms does borax come in?
Borax can come in multiple forms. When it is mined from borax deposits, it comes in the form of a crystal. Commercially, however, you’ll mostly find borax powders or liquid borax solutions. The advantage of liquid borax is that it’s easy to use; powdered borax usually has to be mixed with water first.
Is borax safe? Is it legal?
Although it is a naturally-occurring substance, borax isn’t 100% safe. If you are accidentally exposed to it, it can cause skin irritation, respiratory issues, and eye problems. It’s especially harmful/poisonous if it’s ingested or inhaled. If you have children or pets at home, make sure to keep borax in a place they cannot reach it. Also make sure to wear rubber gloves when handling borax, especially if you have open wounds or broken skin.
Borax is banned in the UK due to it being a ‘potentially harmful’ substance, but it is legal to sell in Australia. However, it is only legal to sell borax in the form of household cleaners or pesticides; borax as a food additive is banned in the AU.
If you are still wary about using borax in your home, there are still plenty of alternatives you can use instead. For general all-purpose cleaning, we highly recommend using white vinegar and/or baking soda. For making kids’ slime, check out this recipe which uses baking soda, glue, and contact lens solution for borax-free fun.
Where to buy borax in Australia
Bare Essentials Borax cleaner is available at Coles for $AUD 4.10 for a 500-gram container. This borax comes in a powder form; it can be used as a stain cleaner or deodoriser in your home.
Some people say that finding borax at Woolworths is a hit or miss. But according to their website, you should also be able to grab a jar of Bare Essentials Borax for $AUD 4.50/500g.
Bunnings stocks Glitz Green Borax, a multi-purpose cleaner also in powder form. You can save a little bit of money by getting the 1-kilogram container, which retails at $AUD 8.
We couldn’t find a borax cleaner on Chemist Warehouse, but a lot of the makeup sold there does contain boron or a boron compound. There’s also this glucosamine/chondroitin supplement that also has boron.
A 1.84-kilogram pack of borax powder from Twenty Mule Team costs $AUD 7.99 on the IGA website, providing by far the best value for money out of all of the options on this list.
Borax is an affordable, accessible, sustainable, legal, and relatively safe choice for household cleaning – just make sure to keep it away from children or pets! But if you want a non-toxic option, consider switching to vinegar, baking soda, or other natural cleaning products.
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