Differences Between Borax and Boric Acid
Borax is known as sodium tetraborate decahydrate. Boric acid’s scientific name is boron trihydroxide. Although boric acid and borax both contain boron, they are different molecular compounds. Both compounds are toxic if ingested.
Boric acid is marketed for its insecticidal properties. It kills roaches, ants and fleas. Although boric acid naturally occurs in soil and is needed as a trace mineral by plants, excessive use of the mineral kills them, making this product a good herbicide. Boric acid solution was once a popular eyewash, but is not recommended for any medical use now. According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, "Chronic poisoning occurs in those who are repeatedly exposed to boric acid. For example, in the past, boric acid was used to disinfect and treat wounds. Patients who received such treatments over and over again got sick, and some died." One safe use of boric acid is as a homeopathic remedy, for Acne and anti-fungal preparations, including vaginal suppositories for yeast infection treatment. Homeopathic remedies are so dilute they do not contain active pharmacological molecules of boric acid.
Sodium borate is an ingredient in the HPV vaccine Gardisil, which is marketed to young women as a preventative against one type of cervical cancer caused by the human papillomavirus. Sodium borate is also marketed as rat poison, although in much higher doses. Gardisil manufacturer Merck says the amount of sodium borate used to preserve the vaccine is safe.
Washington Times reporter Gregory Lopes, however, noted that some possible vaccine reactions that have prompted authorities in Spain to stop distributing the shots are eerily similar to symptoms of sodium borate poisoning: headaches, blurred vision, possible seizures and paralysis. Most of the reactions were mild and temporary but two young women were hospitalized after taking the vaccine.
Dangers of Exposure
The following information is listed under Hazard Identification of the Material Safety Data Sheet for 20 Mule Team Borax:
“Ingestion: May be harmful if swallowed. Products containing Borax are not intended for ingestion. Borax has a low acute toxicity. Small amounts (e.g., a teaspoon) swallowed accidentally are not likely to cause effects; swallowing amounts larger than that may cause gastrointestinal symptoms.