Is Borax about to be banned in the UK?

As you may have read in our previous post, Borax (aka Sodium Borate) is a chemical with a myriad of practical uses around the home.  However, speculation has been growing recently online that this helpful household product is soon to be reclassified as a dangerous substance and banned for sale in the EU and consequently the United Kingdom. On hearing this alarming news we set out to find out if there was any truth to these rumours and what the future really holds for Borax.

Current Legislation

Some light can be shed on this matter by looking at a piece of EU regulation called “Adaptations to Technical Progress”, specifically the 30th and 31st ATP’s.  In this legislation the group of chemicals known as Borates (including Borax) were reclassified as “Reprotoxic Category 2“.  This classification suggests that the product is harmful to the reproductive functions of humans in high doses, and means the substance must carry the skull and crossbones symbol.  The reclassification came about because of a study carried out on pregnant rats who were exposed to high doses of borates [1].  The study suggests that Boric Acid is harmful when exposed regularly to concentrations of more that 5.5%.  For other Borates this limit may be higher depending on the amount of Boric Acid contained.

EU Law states that this reclassification of Borates must take place in each member state by 1st December 2010, however the reclassification itself does not restrict the sale of the substances.  What it means is that Borax is now on the list of Substances of Very High Concern for the REACH Regulation which was set up to protect the population from exposure to harmful substances.  REACH introduces a process in which those substances that are considered to pose an unacceptably high risk to human health and theenvironment may be removed from the market unless there is a justifiable need for them to remain.


The process for removing SVHC substances from the market can be briefly summarised as follows:
Identification as an SVHC
Entry onto the Candidate List
Prioritisation for Authorisation
Addition to the Annex XIV List of Substances subject to Authorisation

At each stage of this process, there is no certainty that a substance at one stage will necessarily proceed to the next, although if a substance completes the final stage, it will be potentially removed from the market for all uses that are not exempted or for which authorisations have not been granted.

Boric acid and disodium tetraborate salts have reached the second stage in this process. They were added to the Candidate List in June 2010. Entry onto the Candidate List places some legal obligations on suppliers of those substances, but it does not restrict their use in any way [2].

The Future

Whether or not Borax will make it to the end of the REACH process and become completely restricted is still very much uncertain. Until then it remains legal to buy and sell Borax provided that it is correctly labelled and packaged with the appropriate hazard warnings. You can buy Borax online here.  Even if Borates themselves are restricted in the future under REACH, exemptions will probably be made for certain applications [3].  For example the concentration of boric acid used in laundry detergents is much less than the limit imposed by EU classification. Even if Borates become illegal for the general public to buy, other alternatives exist such as sodium percarbonate which is an effective product for cleaning and bleaching.

Check back soon for further updates on this issue.



Top 10 everyday uses of Borax.

If you are viewing this article it is a safe assumption that you have heard of Borax. In fact, you are probably curious as to why it is regarded as such a valuable asset for everyday chores. Well, we are here to help.

Borax has been widely used for centuries. Borax mining train (above) circa late 1800’s.

1. Rub out heavy sink stains

Get rid of those stubborn stains — even rust — in your stain-less steel or porcelain sink. Make a paste of 1 cup borax and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Put some of the paste on a cloth or sponge and rub it into the stain, then rinse with running warm water. The stain should wash away with the paste.

2. Remove Rug and Carpet Stains

Remove stubborn stains from rugs and carpets. Thoroughly dampen the area, then rub in some borax. Let the area dry, then vacuum or blot it with a solution of equal parts vinegar and soapy water and let dry. Repeat if necessary. Don’t forget to first test the procedure on an inconspicuous corner of the rug or on a carpet scrap before applying it to the stain.

3. Eliminate urine odour on mattresses

Toilet training can be a rough experience for all the parties involved. If your child has an “accident” in bed, here’s how to get rid of any lingering smell: Dampen the area, then rub in some borax. Let it dry, then vacuum up the powder.

4. Unblock your drain.

Borax is a safe drain opener and a great alternative to those expensive store-bought drain cleaners. Just mix a cup of Borax with some boiling water and empty it down the drain. Any grease stuck in your drain that is causing the clog will melt away.

5. Keep away weeds and ants

Get the jump on those weeds that grow in the cracks of the concrete outside your house by sprinkling borax into all the crevices where you’ve seen weeds grow in the past. It will kill them off before they have a chance to take root. When applied around the foundation of your home, it will also keep ants and other six-legged intruders from entering your house. But be very careful when applying borax — it is toxic to plants.

6. Clean windows and mirrors

Want to get windows and mirrors spotless and streakless? Wash them with a clean sponge dipped in 2 tablespoons borax dissolved in 3 cups water.

7. Smelly bin?

Sprinkle some Borax into the bottoms of your garbage bin to keep it smelling fresh.

8. Help! My cat smells bad and has fleas!

Borax can help! To control the odor of your cats litter box try mixing Borax in with the cat litter. Borax can also kill fleas in your home, simply sprinkle Borax on your carpet and let it set for an hour or more then vacuum it away.

9. Soften Hard Water

If you have hard water add a bit of Borax to your bath to soften it. Hard water makes soaps and shampoos less effective.

And last but not least.

10. Remove mildew from you household and car fabric

To remove mildew from upholstery and other fabrics, soak a sponge in a solution of 1/2 cup borax dissolved in 2 cups hot water, and rub it into the affected areas. Let it soak in for several hours until the stain disappears, then rinse well. To remove mildew from clothing, soak it in a solution of 2 cups borax in 2 quarts (2 litres) water.

There are many more uses of Borax, but we feel that these 10 are the most commonly used and certainly enough to get you going. So what are you waiting for, go and buy borax today and start saving money on all those other expensive cleaning products you no longer need!

A little extra information:

Borax, or sodium borate, is a naturally occurring mineral compound best known as a laundry booster and water softener. Borax is also excellent as a multi-purpose household cleaner with many uses throughout your house including craft projects. Borax is not flammable and is not reactive. It can be mixed with most other cleaning agents, including chlorine bleach.

Why is Methanol used as a petrol additive?

Methanol , also known as methyl alcohol, carbinol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, has the chemical formula CH3OH(often abbreviated MeOH). It is the simplest alcohol and is a light, volatile, colourless, flammable, toxic liquid with a distinctive odor that is very similar but slightly sweeter than ethanol. It is used as an antifreeze, solvent, fuel and as a denaturant for ethanol. It is also used for producing biodiesel via transesterfication reaction.

So, Why should you add it to your Petrol Tank ?
Well, the simple answer is there are 3 answers! It is used for 3 reasons…
* One is that some areas have restrictions on fuel due to the local pollution levels so it may be required to add it as it burns cleaner.
* Reason two is that many stations use it to help evaporate water that gets into the fuel storage tanks.

Reason three for adding Methanol to Petrolis that it is the best from the point of view of reducing Detonation, followed by Acetone and then Benzole in that order.

Methanol can be added in all proportions up to 100 percent, but as an additive limited to 10 percent will give an Octane increase of about 5 points. For example 98 Octane can be increased to 103, or looking at it another way, cheap fuel of say 91 Octane can, by the use of 10 percent Methanol, or approximately three quarters of a pint per gallon, will produce fuel of 96 Octane.



Created by Mistral Pure Chemicals. View website