Do Not Drink Borax

Despite what the latest unqualified TikTok health claim may suggest, drinking this household cleaner is downright dangerous.

July 31, 2023


Photo by: Michelle Lee Photography/Getty Images

Michelle Lee Photography/Getty Images

Just when you thought TikTok “health” recommendations couldn’t get any worse, some unqualified influencers have begun recommending slurping down a potentially deadly substance. Here’s why you should never consume borax.

What Is Borax?

Borax is a coarse, granular white powder that has been used for cleaning since the late 1800s. Brands like 20 Mule Team market it as a “detergent booster” and multi-purpose household cleaner. When wet, the granules dissolve and become slippery – if you have kids, you probably have a box of borax on hand for making homemade batches of slime.

The active ingredient in borax is sodium tetraborate – a combination of sodium, oxygen and the mineral boron. Not to be confused with boric acid, a common pesticide – neither is safe for human consumption. Borax packaging includes a laundry list (pun intended) of warnings and cautions including “avoid contact with eyes” and “do not take internally.”

Borax has gained traction on social media, with people suggesting bathing in it and drinking mixtures of borax and water, claiming it will help fight inflammation, ease joint pain and (of course) promote weight loss. The mineral boron is naturally found in several foods including prunes, avocado and apples and in lesser amounts in rice, milk and bread. Guidelines on recommendation for dietary intake have not been established, nor have thresholds for toxicity. That said, the likelihood of being deficient in boron is low and drinking synthetic borax can be downright dangerous.

What Are the Dangers of Drinking Borax?

The use of borax in foods is banned by the Food and Drug Administration. Topical contact with borax can cause skin and eye irritations. Even worse, consuming borax, even in small amounts, can cause dizziness, headache, weakness and nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and even possibly kidney failure. It can also cause throat and lung irritation and damage, if inhaled. If you want to use borax for a batch of slime or batch of laundry, wear gloves and avoid breathing in the particles. Manufacturers recommend that if it is ingested, you should call poison control immediately.

Bottom Line: This is just another TikTok red flag – don’t add borax to your beverages nor your bathtub.

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