What Is Sodium Borate?

This is part of our ongoing series helping consumers better understand chemicals, chemistry, and product formulations. We translate the science, bust the myths, and give you an honest assessment, so you can make informed choices for your family!

Ingredient:

Sodium Borate (also commercially known as “Borax”).

What it is:

A naturally occurring, water soluble mineral sediment that’s created through the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes (1). Most of the sodium borate in the U.S. comes from the seasonal lakes in the Mojave Desert in Southern California (1).

What it does:

Sodium borate cleans and fights stains (2,3). It also softens water, making other cleansers more effective (4).

Why we use it:

Sodium borate is not only a versatile and effective ingredient for cleaning products, it’s also preferable because it’s naturally-derived and safe when used as directed. It’s so mild, the Material Safety Data Sheet classifies sodium borate as a health hazard of 1, the same as baking soda and salt. So, it helps our Stain Remover tackle tough stains in a gentle way.

References:

  1. U.S. EPA. Boron. Retrieved December 15, 2015, from http://www3.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/industrial/special/mining/minedock/id/id4-bor.pdf
  2. Olson, W., Bode, M., & Dubbel, P. (1994). Hard Surface Cleaning Performance of Six Alternative Household Cleaners lJnder Laboratory Conditions.
  3. Mahale, G., Shailaja, G., Bhavani, K., Sadhana, K., Jayashree, Y., & Patel, H. M. (1994). Efficiency of chemicals in removal of stain on textile materials.Textile dyer & printer, 27(13), 20-25.
  4. Hibbard, P. L. (1934). The significance of mineral matter in water. Journal (American Water Works Association), 884-890.

This post was revised as of 1/14/2016.