Borax is used in the process of making boric acid, but there is a tremendous chemical difference between the two. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral, though of course, that doesn’t make it inert or safe either. (Arsenic is a naturally occurring metalloid but it isn’t safe for human use. Natural doesn’t always mean safe.)
Many people are concerned about whether borax is a safe chemical. There are many sites on the internet claiming it is toxic. I disagree with these sites and believe that borax is as safe for household use as table salt or washing soda—in other words, the dose makes the poison.
Borax, or sodium tetraborate, is a powdery white mineral that has been used as a cleaning product for several decades. Today, modern ingredients have mostly replaced borax in cleansers and cosmetics.
Borax, sodium tetraborate decahydrate, according to one study, is not acutely toxic. Its LD 50 (median lethal dose) score is tested at 2.66 g/kg in rats, meaning that a significant dose of the chemical is needed to cause severe symptoms or death. The lethal dose is not necessarily the same for humans.
What Happens If Borax Is Ingested?. Borax is a chemical made from the element Boron. It is commonly used in laundry detergent and the production of fiberglass. Borax is a salt form of boric acid, a common ingredient in insecticides. If Borax is ingested by an insect, it usually results in death of the insect. When ingested, borax and boric acid also pose significant health risks to humans.
Borax is just salt. You can compare the LD50 of borax to table salt, and it turns out that ingesting table salt is more dangerous. Different government websites will show conflicting information about boron/borax. I have used borax, externally and internally. Boric acid was used at a time as an eye cleaning solution for infection or for wounds.
Is boric acid likely to contribute to the development of cancer? No. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that boric acid is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. In some experiments, mice and rats were fed boric acid and borax for two years. No evidence that boric acid or borax causes cancer was found.
Borax is not a green cleaning ingredient, as many have been led to believe. Yes, the 20-mule team laundry booster box has a very "green" look to it and plenty of recipes for "green" homemade cleaners require it. But we won't be fooled, and we hope you won't be, either. In short: EWG does not recommend using borax to clean your home. What is borax?
Boric acid is a dangerous poison. Poisoning from this chemical can be acute or chronic. Acute boric acid poisoning usually occurs when someone swallows powdered roach-killing products that contain the chemical. Chronic poisoning occurs in those who are repeatedly exposed to boric acid.
Boric acid is a very common chemical that is often used as an insecticide. Boric acid can be used to make very simple and effective ant traps, saving a great deal of money. However, it is only toxic to humans in relatively large doses.