What in the World is Borax?

The Borax Story

Borax is a compound made from the naturally occurring mineral Boron which has been used for a variety of purposes by humans across the globe. After being traded along the Silk Road for 500 years, Borax was discovered in Death Valley during the 1880s, and Borax magnate F.M. “Borax” Smith was quick to capitalize on the opportunity. Soon he had the iconic 20 Mule Wagon Teams hauling tons of Borax out of the desert to be used in thousands of products. Before long, Borax began showing up on shelves across the United States and the “Borax Boom” had begun.

The Borax Story
Borax is King Poster Image

The Many Jobs of Borax

Once Borax was able to be pulled out of Death Valley, manufacturers everywhere began to find a myriad of uses for this hardworking mineral. It was soon used in a variety of industries including glazing for construction and fiberglass in boats, planes and cars. Borax is also used in the creation of glass, especially for stained glass windows. Known for its crystal whiteness, it’s even used in porcelain and ceramics to make sure that beautiful china plates and vases don’t lose their color. Over time, clever scientists began to find more and more uses for Borax within the home.

Ingredients and Safety Information

To get the inside scoop on what’s in Borax and what it’s safe to use for, check out one of the tabs below.

Safety Info

Borax vs. The World

Or check out our comparison page to see how Borax stacks up against other cleaning products on the shelf:


Since it is a mineral in its base form, the compound Borax is technically called Sodium Borate (or Sodium Tetraborate) and is a simple molecule.

Boron ingredient


This element is how Borax got the first half of its name. Boron is used for industrial purposes to strengthen carbon fibers, and it helps to make fiberglass.

Boron is an extremely versatile element and is actually used for a variety of industrial purposes.

  • Glass
  • Porcelain
  • Aircraft (Boron was even used on the space shuttle!)
  • Cosmetics
  • Flame Retardants
Sodium ingredient


Borax is similar to salt in that it contains sodium. The sodium is already a part of Borax when it’s extracted and helps to stabilize the compound.

Oxygen ingredient


We breath it every day, and it’s an integral part of creating Borax. Oxygen also gives the compound the last half of its name.

Safety Information

Before using Borax, it’s important to know the safety information behind it so that you and your family can stay happy and healthy.


You may have heard a lot of rumors online about whether it is safe to use, but we’re here to set the record straight. Borax is safe when used as directed. It is not intended to be used undiluted. Borax is an eye irritant and may be harmful if swallowed. As with all household products, you should avoid contact of the product with the eyes, nose and mouth, and it should be kept out of reach of children.

Related Uses

3 Spring Cleaning Tips with Borax Image

3 Spring Cleaning Tips with Borax

Spring cleaning season is the perfect opportunity to give your home a cleaning boost.

Time-Saving Spring Cleaning Tips Image

Time-Saving Spring Cleaning Tips

When you think about tackling spring cleaning, you may envision reorganizing your closets, decluttering your bedroom, or freshening up and changing out your curtains.

3 All Natural Spring Cleaning Recipes Using Borax

3 All Natural Spring Cleaning Recipes Using Borax

Are you a newbie when it comes to DIY cleaning supplies? Or are you a tried-and-true DIY cleaning expert? Whichever camp you fall into, you can welcome in spring cleaning by trying out one of these all natural spring cleaning recipes with 20 Mule Team Borax™.