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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.