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Borax vs. Boric Powder: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 6, 2024
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral used in cleaning and laundry, while boric powder, derived from borax, is used as a pesticide and antiseptic.

Key Differences

Borax, known scientifically as sodium borate, is a mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. It's commonly used in laundry detergents, household cleaners, and even in cosmetics. Boric powder, or boric acid, is derived from borax when it reacts with an acid like hydrochloric acid. This process results in a substance with different properties and uses, primarily as an antiseptic, insecticide, and flame retardant.
Borax has a long history of use, dating back thousands of years for cleaning, preserving food, and in various other applications. Its alkaline properties make it effective for boosting laundry detergents and as a general-purpose cleaner. Boric powder, on the other hand, is known for its mild antiseptic properties and is often used in medical powders and ointments to prevent infection. It's also widely used as a pesticide against ants, cockroaches, and other insects.
In terms of chemical composition, borax is a salt of boric acid but less acidic and more stable in alkaline environments. This stability makes borax suitable for a wide range of household applications. Boric powder, being an acid, has a lower pH and is used in applications where its acidity can be beneficial, such as in controlling fungal growth or adjusting the pH of swimming pools.
The environmental impact and safety concerns of borax and boric powder also differ. While borax is generally considered safe for household use when used as directed, excessive exposure can cause skin, eye, or respiratory irritation. Boric powder, due to its insecticidal properties, requires careful handling and storage to avoid potential toxicity, especially around children and pets.
Despite their differences, both borax and boric powder share the common element of boron, making them useful in various industrial, household, and medical applications. Their distinct properties and applications make them valuable substances, each suited to specific tasks ranging from cleaning and laundering to pest control and antiseptic treatments.

Comparison Chart


Sodium, boron, oxygen, and water (sodium borate).
Boric acid, derived from reacting borax with an acid.


Laundry booster, household cleaner, cosmetic ingredient.
Pesticide, antiseptic, flame retardant, pH adjuster.

PH Level

Alkaline, less acidic.
Acidic, lower pH.

Safety and Environment

Generally safe with proper use, minimal environmental impact.
Requires careful handling due to potential toxicity.

Derived From

Naturally occurring mineral.
Derived from borax through an acid reaction.

Borax and Boric Powder Definitions


Acts as a water softener in laundry applications.
Borax softens the water, making my clothes feel softer after washing.

Boric Powder

Serves as a flame retardant in various materials.
Boric powder is added to fabrics to enhance their fire resistance.


Used in making homemade slime for children.
We used borax to create stretchy slime during our craft session.

Boric Powder

Acts as a pesticide for household pests.
We used boric powder to eliminate the roach problem in our kitchen.


Can serve as an insect deterrent in gardens.
I sprinkled borax around the garden to keep the ants away.

Boric Powder

Used in controlling fungal growth.
Boric powder was sprinkled in the shoes to prevent athlete's foot.


A natural mineral used in household cleaning.
I added borax to my laundry to boost the detergent's cleaning power.

Boric Powder

Used as an antiseptic in medical formulations.
I applied boric powder on the minor cut to prevent infection.


Employed in various industrial processes.
Borax is a key component in the manufacture of heat-resistant glass.

Boric Powder

Employed in the treatment of eye infections.
A diluted boric powder solution was used as an eyewash for irritation.


A hydrated sodium borate, Na2B4O7·10H2O, an ore of boron, that is used as a cleaning compound.


What is borax?

A naturally occurring mineral used in cleaning and industrial processes.

Is borax safe for everyday household use?

Yes, when used as directed, borax is safe for various household tasks.

What are the main uses of boric powder?

As an antiseptic, pesticide, and flame retardant.

What precautions should be taken when using boric powder?

It should be handled carefully to avoid ingestion or excessive inhalation.

What is boric powder?

A derivative of borax, used as a pesticide and antiseptic.

How is boric powder made from borax?

By reacting borax with an acid like hydrochloric acid.

Is boric powder safe for medical use?

In small, controlled amounts, it can be used for antiseptic purposes.

How does boric powder control pests?

It disrupts their digestive system and is toxic to insects.

Are there environmental concerns with using borax?

Minimal, but it should be used responsibly to avoid pollution.

Is boric powder effective against all household pests?

It's particularly effective against roaches, ants, and some fungi.

Can borax and boric powder be used interchangeably?

No, due to their different chemical properties and uses.

Why is borax used in laundry?

It boosts cleaning power and softens water.

Is borax still used in industrial processes?

Yes, in glassmaking, ceramics, and other industries.

Can boric powder be used in eyewashes?

Yes, in diluted solutions, it's used for its mild antiseptic properties.

Can borax be used in cosmetics?

Yes, in regulated amounts, borax can be used in certain cosmetic products.

Are there any health risks associated with borax?

With proper use, risks are minimal, but ingestion or prolonged skin contact should be avoided.

Can borax be used in food preservation?

Historically, yes, but it's not commonly used for this purpose today.

How does boric powder work as a flame retardant?

It helps to reduce the flammability of materials by releasing water when heated.

What makes borax a good water softener?

Its alkaline properties help to neutralize minerals in hard water.

Can boric powder be used in the garden?

With caution, as it can be toxic to plants at high concentrations.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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