Sodium tetraborate decahydrate, commonly known as borax, is a natural mineral made of sodium, boron, oxygen and water. It is used in many homes for myriad uses, and if kept in a dry location, borax's shelf life is virtually unlimited. The first verified use of borax was to glaze Chinese ceramics in the 10th century.
Adding borax to your laundry loads will result in cleaner clothes. Borax boosts your regular detergent's cleaning power to remove difficult stains, deodorizes and freshens clothes by softening hard water (removing minerals) and is a natural alternative to using chlorine bleach (although it can also be mixed with bleach). It can be used in both standard and high efficiency washing machines. Depending on the item, add borax to the washing machine, pre-treat, or soak clothes clean, then rinse in cool water.
Borax also cleans living spaces. Use in the kitchen to clean dishes or to boost dishwasher detergent; on counters or appliances; and in garbage disposals and drains. In the bathroom, it removes soap scum, dirt and hard water deposits without scratching fiberglass or porcelain, and does away with odors, including those from the toilet. It can also be used on rugs and carpets, and is safe for use in septic systems.
Mix borax with sand or corn meal to preserve flowers---it removes moisture which would otherwise cause them to droop. Borax can also be used to make wicks for candles that will not result in ash or smoking. Borax is also an ingredient for homemade "Gak," or similar putty-like toy substances.
Borax, borates and boron compounds are some of the common elements in cosmetics, medicine, ceramics, wood treatments and materials for construction. As of 2009, the glassmaking industry was the largest manufacturing group to use borates, and it is also used to make fire retardant additives and chemicals for farming. The structural and bonding attributes of borates make them versatile across industries.
Although closely tied to metabolic functions (borates can inhibit them, which suggests they could be useful in controlling insects) as of September 2009, borax had not been cleared as a pesticide by the Environmental Protection Agency. Be sure to label any container borax is stored in. Also, keep borax out of children's reach.
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