How to Fireproof With Borax

Also known as sodium borate, borax is a white mineral that comes from Chile, Tibet and -- famously -- California, where mule teams used to haul it out of the Mojave Desert. This innocuous and almost-inert powder has a surprising number of applications, from cleaning and disinfecting to deodorizing and controlling insects. You can also use it as a fire retardant, although it won't make anything completely fireproof, which is a virtual impossibility. You can mix one solution to treat flammable fabrics, such as rayon and cotton, and another to prevent your Christmas tree from drying out.

Things You'll Need

  • Borax
  • Boric acid
  • Corn syrup
  • Bleach
  • Epsom salts
  • Chelated iron

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Fireproofing Fabric

Step 1

Mix 6 parts borax with 6 parts boric acid in 100 parts water, which is equivalent to mixing 1 cup each of borax and boric acid per gallon of water. Stir thoroughly to dissolve the powders. Boric acid, also called hydrogen borate, is a weak acid containing hydrogen, oxygen and boron.

Step 2

Soak the fabric you want to waterproof in the cool solution until the fabric is impregnated -- about an hour or two. This solution is especially effective for rayon and natural fabrics.

Step 3

Reduce the amount of boric acid in the solution by half for sheer fabrics. This helps the fabrics retain their flexibility and softness.

Fireproofing Christmas Trees

Step 1

Mix a solution containing 2 gallons of hot water, 2 cups of corn syrup, 2 ounces of liquid bleach, 2 pinches of Epsom salts, 1/2 teaspoon of borax and 1 teaspoon of chelated iron. You can buy chelated iron at a garden store.

Step 2

Pour some of the solution in a bucket, then cut an inch off the end of the tree and stand it in the bucket. Keep the tree in the bucket until you're ready to bring it indoors.

Step 3

Mount the tree in a tree holder when you bring it indoors, then fill the holder with some of the remaining mixture. Replenish the reservoir twice a day until it's time to take the tree down.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't want to soak your fabrics, spraying or brushing the borax solution on them is almost as effective. Be sure the fabric gets completely saturated.
  • The National Fire Protection Association has a specific recipe for fabric fireproofing. It recommends a solution containing 9 ounces of borax and 4 ounces of boric acid per gallon of water.
  • The borax in the Christmas tree solution helps transport the solution into the needles to keep them green and moist.
  • Borax is dangerous for both adults and children if ingested in large amounts. Keep it in a closed container well out the reach of children.


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