The Great Borax Debate: Is it Safe?
In short: Yes Borax (Sodium borate, Borax decahydrate, Borax pentahydrate) is NOT toxic, or rather it has a low toxicity (similar to Baking Soda) meaning you would need to have a ridiculously high dose of it to do any harm. In fact measure for measure – salt is more toxic than Borax.
I have seen a lot of debate on the safety and environmentally friendliness of Borax, with claims that it is poisonous and a skin irritant. These claims are incorrect. In fact Boron (the main component of Borax) is essential for health in both plants and animals.
So why are so many people confused?
Borax, (Na2B4O7) is a product mined from Boron rock and so is fairly inert.
However the problem is that the words Borax and Boric Acid have been used and confused interchangeably throughout the internet, and a little bit of misinformation is a dangerous thing. Whilst the two chemicals look similar they are not.
Boric acid (H3BO3), also know as Orthoboric acid is made from adding Hydrochloric Acid to a solution of Borax and allowing it to form crystals. This is very toxic and is a skin irritant as well.
These two chemicals are NOT THE SAME Borax is safe to use: However as with all things, too much of a good thing can be bad for you! (heck you can even overdose on water if you try hard enough)!