Borax has been on the market for more than 100 years as a multipurpose household powder, but it hasn't always been easy to find on store shelves. Thanks to its popularity as a key ingredient in homemade slime, it's easier to find borax in stores that carry cleaning or crafting supplies.
Borax Basics and Safety Concerns
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral also known as sodium tetraborate or sodium borate. Stores that sell borax for general laundry and household use carry brands that label the material as borax, while more scientific retailers usually label it as sodium tetraborate. Although boric acid is similar to borax and from the same mineral, it's not the same chemical compound, as boric acid is hydrogen borate.
Although borax is generally considered a safe product, inhaling its fine powder could cause lung irritation. The powder could also cause eye or skin irritation, so wear eye protection and gloves if working with it, especially outdoors when wind could be a concern. Borax could also be toxic if ingested in large quantities, so keep it away from unsupervised young children as well as pets.
Borax powder is sold in many large grocery and big-box stores in the laundry detergent aisle. In general discount and drug stores, it may be in the laundry or general cleaning supplies aisle. Borax powder is usually sold in a box, often under the brand name 20 Mule Team Borax, which has been on the market since the late 1800s.
If purchasing borax from a large craft store, it may be featured in a display of slime-making supplies. Stores selling scientific supplies may sell the powder as sodium borate or sodium tetraborate, rather than labeling it as borax.
Borax is a great stain-buster on laundry day. Soak stained items in a mix of 1/2 cup borax per gallon of hot water for at least 30 minutes. The solution helps dissolve stains. Add a little more to a load of laundry to help the detergent work better, too.
Besides laundry use, borax is also great for deodorizing numerous areas around the the house, from the garbage disposal to the garbage can. Sprinkle a light dusting in a garbage can or diaper pail to help eliminate odors. Pour several tablespoons in a disposal, wait 15 minutes or so, then turn on the disposal while running hot water to get rid of foul odors. It also helps unclog slow drains in much the same fashion.
Borax has numerous crafting uses as well, from making large crystals shaped like snowflakes to creating homemade slime or preserving flowers.