The Effect of Borax on Septic Systems

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Septic systems use bacteria to treat sewage.
Septic systems use bacteria to treat sewage.

Borax is a natural-forming, non-biodegradable cleaning alternative to the toxic, chemical-laced household cleaning products and substances often flushed into or poured down the drain of septic systems.

Function

In large amounts, chemicals in certain household cleaning products can upset the treatment process of waste water in septic systems, in which beneficial bacteria break down and digest raw sewage. Borax, a natural-forming mineral, does not deliver the same hazardous effect on septic systems as those chemicals.

Natural Alternative

Nontoxic to people and animals, borax can be used safely to bleach, deodorize, remove stains, disinfect and aid the cleaning power of laundry soap.

Types

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection lists borax as a safe alternative to these harmful substances and chemicals that enter septic systems: oils and grease, gasoline, antifreeze, varnishes, paints and solvents, harsh drain and toilet bowl cleaners, laundry detergents with high sudsing elements, bleach and pesticides.

Considerations

While nontoxic to people, borax is only less harmful to a septic system’s biological treatment of waste than the chemicals found in everyday cleaning products. Large amounts of borax filtered into the environment through a septic system’s drain field could injure trees and other plant life.

Fun Fact

According to the 2010 World Book, most of the world’s supply of borax comes from Death Valley and the Mojave Desert in southern California.

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