boric acid v. 20 Mule Team borax

Pirata(z5 Northern IN)June 2, 2002

My beds, yard, and walkways have been invaded by colonies of small, black, stinging (I think, unless something else got me yesterday) ants that raise sandy-looking mounds. I think they killed everything in a 3 sq ft section of one bed with their excavations, and I'm allergic to ant stings, so I can't live and let live with this bunch.

My question: will inexpensive laundry borax do the job as well as expensive boric acid from the drugstore? And what is the effect of borax on plants?

Any other non-grisly ways to deal with them en masse?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Boron sources that you mention should be ok. However, ants can be easily controlled with boiling hot water to kill the queens. Try using citrus oils like orange oil, chopped garlic, canola oil, and liquid soap like Murphy Oil soap. Make cold compost teas out of the other ingredients, except the hot water thing. Let the teas sit for at least 1 week and apply to mounds. It kills real good.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 10:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Excess boron --- and it takes very little to be an excess -- will permanently damage your soil so that plants don't grow.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 1:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lrobins(z5 CO)

I've used boric acid as an ant and pest barrier by sprinkling it inside my house near the doorway. Jean gives a very good reason *not* to use boron compounds outdoors in the lawn or garden.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2002 at 10:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Pirata(z5 Northern IN)

Thanks for the advice--I'm glad I asked before sprinkling borax in the garden. Boiling water is out for many of the colonies, since they're right in my beds. I tried the sugar/molasses/yeast on cardboard mentioned in other postings. It attracted some ants a great deal, but the colony of tiny black ants right near the house wasn't interested. If they don't eat sugar, does that mean they're carpenter ants, or are there other varieties of non-sugar ants out there?

(I've been conducting a campaign of sorts against a carpenter-ant prob in the basement--if I remember correctly, I should never see carpenter ants outside except the winged kind, but I wonder if the others might come outside under stress of if (I hope hope hope) I've managed to get the queen.)

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   June 8, 2002 at 10:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just read somewhere that you start with some pancake syrup with a little borax mixed in. If you put too much borax in, the ants won't eat it, if you don't use enough they won't die. So play around with the mix a bit. The ants will take the borax back to the queen and within a few days should be eliminated.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2002 at 3:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Pat Sonntag

I used 20 Mule Team Borax to rid an apartment of fleas. Just sprinkled in the carpet and under the furniture cushions, left a few days and then vacuumed. Never saw another flea. The borax extracts all of the moisture and they die - eggs as well. This may work on ants in the house and won't hurt the kids or pets.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2002 at 6:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

FYI - I called the manufacturer of 20 Mule Team Borax and they told me that it was 99.5% percent straight borax. So when I need to use borax, that is what I use. It is cheaper than buying it in the small bottles. For carpenter ant problems, check out the thread on page 1 of this forum.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2002 at 2:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You can have carpenter colonies in the house, in trees and in the yard, they can even be the same extended colony in all 3 places... That's what I had.

Also, they go through cycles with what they prefer to eat, depending on the time of year and life-stage of the colony.

I watched a tree colony war with a house colony and soon a lawn colony erupted nearby, very interesting.
I used diatomacious earth on the lawn colonies, that put a dent in their numbers, and put out small piles of borax/powdered sugar for the house ants outdoors but not directly on the ground.

Diatomacious earth should affect any type of ant, just spread it on and around each hill so they have to walk through it, some will be brought into the colony that way and if you put fresh powder down regularly they may all die.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2002 at 3:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Pirata(z5 Northern IN)

Bohewasp, thanks for checking with the manufacturer--what a smart thing to do!


    Bookmark   September 29, 2002 at 6:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you weren't so far north I would be suspicious of fire ants.

I kind of assumed that 20 Mule Team Borax was borax. My questions would still be how does borax relate to boric acid, and do they both kill the same? I am real happy with boric acid to keep roaches down inside the house and garage.

For killing ants outdoors, any mix with orange oil (d-limonene) is supposed to kill pretty much on contact. If you mix 2-4 ounces of orange oil in a gallon of water and drench the mound, it is supposed to work quickly. I got a can of orange oil at a feed store in their organic products section.

Other additives you can consider are a couple ounces of dish soap to make the water wetter, or a couple of ounces of molasses and/or seaweed to feed the beneficial microbes in the mound.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2002 at 11:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dchall -
"Borax" and "Boric acid" are not the same.

Borax is Na2B4O7-10H2O, Hydrated sodium borate

Boric acid is H3BO3

As a source of boron, borax work fine. To kill roaches, you need the boric acid.

The drugstore expensive stuff is pharmaceutical grade boric acid ... no need to getthat picky.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2002 at 3:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello, I bought a house where old garage in disrepair, cedar tree 5 feet overhanging house, and yard full of brush and old wood. (ivy blackberry, and akebia vine) I had cedar tree trimmed and thinned to clear out so now branches are higher above the house, I am cleaning out old wood, and garage is cleaned out and getting ready to apply tibor to wood walls. This is my question...if I use borax, 20 mule team borax outside, can I just put line around edge of house around foundation? I am planning to put brick or cobblestone path around house right next to foundation. Or is this too hard and to close to garden? We have no garden at the moment it is just vast wasteland. I had pharmacy order boric acid to put with sugar in house. I was using Terro and it attracts very well, ants were eating it, dying and then buddies seemed to be picking them up and taking them away. Little by little in one week there seems to be less activity in the house. I live in an ant nest until I clean this mess up! Ants did not seem to eat my mixture preferring profession one.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2003 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Boric acid is quite expensive from the pharmacy. Get the cheap stuff packaged for killing roaches. It is available mail order if you can't find it in local stores, but Home Depot usually has it. Victor is one brand of boric acid for roaches. Do a Google search on Victor boric acid to find mail order sources.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2003 at 10:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I took a turkey baster and blew 20 Team Borax into voids in the house, and drew a small line along the outside of the house and while doing do located what appeared to be two nests. I put borax out on nests and put bait in areas where they seem to be entering house. Also cleaned up cedar tree touching the house. I made karo syrup mixture but ants preferred terro so I am going to thin my mixture a bit and add sugar. Ants appear to be on the way out for this year.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2003 at 3:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spambdamn_rich(Sunset 16.5)

I tried a web search on the subject of borax vs. boric acid. Coudn't come up with anything really definitive, beyond the differences in chemical structure, but my impression is that boric acid is more effective than borax. Fortunately the boric acid from Home Depot (Victor brand) isn't very expensive, and a little goes a long way.

It was interesting that borax could make a very effective tub/shower/bath cleaner, as it inhibits mold and mildew. It also has herbicidal properties, which means it should not be used in garden areas where you want things to grow.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2003 at 3:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
annp(z5 ME)

Remember that boric acid is toxic to pets and has killed a number of children over the years who ingested it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2003 at 10:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spambdamn_rich(Sunset 16.5)

Yes, in my web searches I turned up the interesting information that an ounce of Borax can kill an adult human. Probably much less for a child, such as a tablespoon. I imagine it tastes awful but you know kids.

I was in Orchard Supply today and saw that they had a somewhat different brand of Boric acid, in two formulations. One was specifically for roaches and had a roach pheromone attractant in it. Another formulation was 100% boric acid and cost only about $2.50 for about a quart of powder.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2003 at 9:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Please use extreme caution with Boron products.
It is easily leached from soils as B(OH)3 though will accumulate in soils with a high pH,calcareous soils, and soils with a high clay content.(Marschner p.392)
Boron is present in irrigated water,but a USDA reference sets the toxicity threshhold of B in irrigated water for nursery tree seedling production @ 0.75ppm, and is extremely expensive to rectify beyond this value.(Landis; vol.4;p.87)
This is a much lower value than the 27ppm toxicological benchmark set for Boron affecting soil microflora.
From what I have read,overall tolerences of Boron vary according to plant species and specific plants can be utilized as hyperaccumulators.
see scirus -> boron toxicity

Here is a link that might be useful: scirus search engine

    Bookmark   May 23, 2003 at 11:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

getting a bit off topic here but I should have stated 'overall "requirements" for Boron vary according to plant species (even genotypic variations).'Marcshner has shown that plants grown in the same location have the ability to sequester B at varying rates according to their requirements for growth:(ie. alfalfa 37 mg/kg (ppm)dry weight; carrots 75.4 mg/kg (ppm)dry weight...)
The big question is selectivity, and the narrow range between meeting specific requirements and toxic threshholds.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2003 at 10:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have had a horrible ant problem here for 4 years, nothing has worked on them. Last night I tried putting out a boric acid/powdered sugar mix in four spots outside that seem to lead straight back to the nest. This morning I was pleased to see that one of the spots was riddled with ants, and found a HUGE line of them traipsing back and forth across my driveway. Two hours later the line had lessened, and now, six hours later, the line is gone completely. My questions is surely it doesn't kill them that fast?? Could they already be dying, or have they sent out the "danger" signal and are now avoiding the bait? How can I tell short of digging up the nest?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2003 at 3:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karenamy(z5 NE)

One of the most important pieces of information in ant control is Don't attempt spot killing: it sends the ants migrating and makes the problem worse. Read up on these resources for slow killing and other good stuff...

In my looking around I found three items for those trying to control ants:
1) Article from University of Florida on ant trails and bait
2) The source site for the above which includes lots of basic information on ant types, habits, treatment, etc.
3) And most important for this string of BORAX and BORIC ACID; A RECEPIE for the bait - flexible according to what they are currently eating. See the Link below...

Now, off to reclaim my kitchen counters!

Here is a link that might be useful: ANT BAIT RECEPIE

    Bookmark   June 7, 2003 at 3:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Use Diatomaceous Earth to get rid of fleas. It is completely organic, be sure to use natural grade rather than pool grade.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth to get rid of fleas

Diatomaceous Earth: A Discussion



    Bookmark   August 21, 2003 at 6:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sammy zone 7 Tulsa

The ant bait recipe wouldn't go through.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2003 at 7:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

According to the following link, boric acid is not as toxic as common table salt:
I buy it in 50 Lb bags (be sure and specify powder as opposed to pellets) at a local chemical supply house. It is around $45.00 per bag. Much cheaper than the $3.95 for 4 oz at the local drug store.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2003 at 11:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

oh dear, i hope i remember this right and don't embarass myself, given my screen name :)
Most compounds change to Boric Acid once they ear in the environment.
There are two mechanisms of toxicity to insects--one is external cuticle abrasion and the other is poisioning from ingestion. When an insect's outer covering is broken, they loose water and dry out--the same way diatom. earth kills the fleas.
The insect gut is lined with the same stuff as their outer skeleton, and the boric acid roughs it up--sort of like eating nails would do for us.
Boric Acid is comonly used in a spray form to protect wood. (it's covering most of my foundation right now to get rid of a lingering powerpost beetle infection). You do NOT want to use it anywhere it may get into ground water.
the way that boron acts in mammal bodies isn't clear, but it is clear that it is bad for us to eat.

hope that wasn't too academic :)

    Bookmark   November 23, 2003 at 10:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

bob ch -
I hope you are using that 50 pound bag for your construction business and not for killing cockroaches! It takes less than a pound of boric acid to keep an entire house cockroach free for a long, long time. :o)

    Bookmark   November 28, 2003 at 9:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm adding some info that might help. Contact me if you have questions. Borax is fine for ant baits and the toxicity if very low. Remember, you only use a very small amount in your bait, like 1-5%! When you see toxicity info, it is usually calculated for 100% pure product, not for the dilution you actually use, which would be far less dangerous.

Borax is Sodium Borate Decahydrate or sodium tetraborate decahydrate (salt of boric acid) Na2B4O2(H2O)10 used in: Terro Ant Killer II 5.4%.

Boric acid = Orthoboric acid H3BO3 or B2O33H2O,
used in: Drax 1% and Drax NutraBait 1%.

Disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (DOT) Na2B8O13 4∙H2O, used in: Tim-bor 98%; Uncle Alberts Super Smart Ant Bait 1%.

I do research on ant control!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 24, 2003 at 9:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Aegis(z9 CA)

toxicity for boric acid is on the order of 1g/kg, but I don't know what low doses might do. A 30 lb child risks death by ingesting about 1/2 ounce of boric acid. As mentioned above, most preparations are a low percentage of active ingredient....a 5% mixture would allow for 10 oz consumed (not that I would encourage pushing that envelop)


(BTW...what does one do with 50 lb of boric acid?)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 9:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Padinka(z7 Central AL)

Carpenter Ants. I had a problem with them and they would't eat the ant bait. Finally, after chasing them away from my coffee cup for weeks, one day I realized they would drink the coffee. I use creamer and lots of sugar.

So, I spiced up my coffee with the bait placed it under my deck in a nice shallow container. Kept it re-filled for a week or two. No more carpenter ants. Everytime I went out to fill it, there were ants drinking the stuff. Now I don't know if that stuff killed the queen but at least she moved away. That was before I chose organics. But I bet boric acid in the coffee would work the same.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2004 at 1:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Many of you have visited my website and have asked about ant baits. If you want to make your own bait, I suggest using 40% sucrose (table sugar) as a base. My research has shown that white-footed ants (Technomyrmex albipes) prefer this over the other sugars and concentrations that I tested, and this is probably true for many other ant species. If you have any specific questions, feel free to send me an email. If you don't know what kind of ants are bothering you, you can send me a sample for identification. Please see my website for my address, etc. Good luck! -John Warner, PhD candidate, entomology, University of Florida, Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center

Here is a link that might be useful: pest ant research at the University of Florida

    Bookmark   May 27, 2004 at 7:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Also: although boron is required by plants, excess boron IS toxic to plants. For example, if you use the commercial product, Solubor, which is 20.5% boron, to provide boron to your plants, you would only use about 1.22 pounds of the product per acre (dissolved in water and used as a spray), depending on your crop. Higher amounts might burn plants. See this URL on Solubor for more info

Here is a link that might be useful: pest ant research at the University of Florida

    Bookmark   June 13, 2004 at 1:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Jonesy(z6 midwest)

Lowes sells boric acid in small vinyl spray bottles in the pest department. I have no children or pets, but if I did I would still use it. I would put it behind heavy items that sit close to the wall like dressers, under drawers in the dresser, under the sink board,etc.. The bottle sprays a fine powder if you don't punch a large hole in the tip.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 5:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

99-cent stores usually sell Boric Acid as "Roach Pruf" for, well, 99 cents. Much less than drug stores, home centers, etc. And, personally, I never put it where it would be accessible to children (even tho' mine is a teen now, sometimes one has visitors) or pets (as much as I would like the cat to disappear, I don't want the vet bills!).


- Sequoia

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 3:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Will it work for crickets as well? Do I have to worry about ground water if I have sewers? I planned to spray some boric acid in my laundry slop sink since I sometimes see them there.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2004 at 7:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I suggest that you don't use boric acid as a powder insecticide because it tends to be repellent to insects. In other words, the insect will approach it and then avoid it, so it might not receive a toxic dose. Also, boric acid powder is very irritating to the sinus membranes (of humans!). Try something non-repellent, like DeltaDust, which has a very small amount of a synthetic pyrethrum (0.05% deltamethrin), and insects tend to walk over it and die later.

Anyway, I wouldnt use boric acid powder in my house! I have a nice little dog.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 11:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

New research article 2004:
"Borax dust, for example, is moderately repellent to cockroaches and adheres less to their cuticle than does boric acid (Ebeling et al. 1966 ). Unlike other inorganic insecticides and many fast-acting organic insecticides, boric acid is not repellent to German cockroaches when properly used as either a dust (Ebeling et al. 1966 ) or as bait (Strong et al. 1993 )."
...I will add, though, that these borates (as powders)are a bit nasty to inhale, so you might want to stick to gel baits for roach control, and sweet liquid baits for most ants.

Here is a link that might be useful: article

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 9:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Someone above said that "Diatomaceous Earth ... is completely organic." Well, that is not correct! Diatomaceous Earth is composed of silicon dioxide (SiO2). That is 100% INORGANIC!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 10:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, me again.
Re: Aegis comments above: her math is fine, but the toxicity (LD50) of boric acid is not 1g/kg as she says; it is really about 3g/kg (i.e., 3 times LESS TOXIC) according to EXTOXNET (, and many other sources I have read. Therefore the kid she mentioned, would have to drink about 30 oz. (nearly a quart) of the 5% ant bait to you-know-what himself. Oh, by the way the LD50 of TABLE SALT is also about 3g/kg. In other words, boric acid is just as toxic as table salt. So, dont leave any table salt around kids like that! Here is a list of toxicities that I posted on some other page. The numbers will vary some depending on which lab determines them and what animals are used in the test.

I made the following list to show comparative toxicities of some common products. I usually look at the toxicities of acute oral exposure to rats, and these are expressed as "LD50s" or the Lethal Median Dose of a product, expressed in milligrams (mg) of the product to kilograms (kg) of weight to the exposed animal, so THE LOWER THE NUMBER, THE MORE TOXIC THE SUBSTANCE, and higher numbers are less toxic products. This number says how many milligrams of the product per kilogram of body weight actually killed 50% of the animals (rats) tested. (Sorry, I can't get the numbers to stay in columns.)


Material....and Acute Oral LD50 (rat) in mg/kg (see above)

Nicotine 10 VERY TOXIC (but "organic")
Toxaphene 29
Fipronil 95 (see Termidor below)
Diazinon 100
Gasoline 150
Caffeine 200
Sevin 650
Aspirin 1,200
Malathion 1,375
TimBor (DOT) 2,500
Table Salt........ .....3,320...................
Baking Soda 4,200
Boric Acid 3,500
d-Limonene (orange oil) 5,300
Grain Alcohol 14,000
Niban 60,000+
Termidor 0.06% spray 3,252,936 (= +-60 Gal/Kg for an adult)

I put out this list in the interest of promoting a better understanding of the products many people are discussing in these pages and because some of the comments I have been reading are sometimes very misleading. I dont mean to criticize anyonejust sharing my thoughts.


Here is a link that might be useful: Boric Acid fact sheet

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 11:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

NEW...........ANT CONTROL Google below

Here is a link that might be useful: ANT CONTROL Google Group

    Bookmark   January 15, 2005 at 12:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well I had to chime in here as I see that some of you mentioned ROACHES. When we moved into our home we seem to not have any at all. At 6 months some very few. 1 and 1/2 years later we are infested. We did not bring these things we never had them. I am assuming the rental next door helped with all of this but know very little to say. I need help. We own our home and I love my house but hate these things. We have tried some expensive stuff and well guess what not enough results. I hate ROACHES. More then most as I grew up in apartments and they freak me out so much I can't even kill them. I just leave the kitchen at night and get nothing as it is theres in the wee hours of the morning. Any help would be greatly appricated. Please they are making me hate my beautiful home. Oh and by the way they have taken up residence in my beautiful plants.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 12:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Eliz -
It only takes ONE pregnant roach to infect an entire building, and they can come in with nursery plants, boxes fo groceries, etc.

Here's how to get rid of them:

Get the RAID smoke boimbs (not pressurized aerosol - these are water activated smoke producers) and set them off in and under the house. (Follow the directions)
Treat the places they lurk:

1. - buy a container of Roach-Pruf and a turkey baster

2. Remove the bottom drawers from all kitchen and bath cabinets and dust the powder there, along the places where edges meet.

3. Drill holes in bottom of cupboards and use the turkey baster to poof the powder under the cabinets.

Bait the survivors:

Mix up some Roach bait - I use half powdered sugar, 1/2 Roach-pruf and just enough water to make a sticky paste. Smear a bit in the bottom of clean food cans (soup can size) and squash the opening almost shut. These can be put under the house or porch, on the joists in a basement, etc.

Smear a bit of bait onto a plastic lid from something and slide it under frig and stove.

Destroy their ecosystem:
Clean the heck out of everything!

Make sure all traash and recyclebles are removed from the house every night.

Fix leaky faucets

Don't leave pet food out overnight

Don't let stacks of stuff accumulate.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 2:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A few dabs of Maxforce Roach gel might be easier, less expensive, and certainly safer....

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 9:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I improved my page showing: TOXICITIES OF SOME COMMONLY USED PESTICIDES COMPARED TO A FEW HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS. You can view it by clicking on the link below.

John Warner, entomologist
University of Florida


    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
daveandlaura(8b-S. Louisiana)

Diatomaceous earth can be considered organic -- as in not a manmade chemical, but rather naturally occurring. It is, after all, the left-behind shells of dead diatoms!


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 3:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Organic" has many definitions; one is: "relating or belonging to the class of chemical compounds having a carbon basis." By this definition, Diatomaceous Earth (silica dioxide), which has no carbon, is 100% inorganic. When the marine diatoms were alive, their living cells contained carbon: they were full of organic compounds. When they died, the organic component decomposed, leaving behind only the inorganic part: the exoskeleton (silica dioxide).

There are many chemicals that are not man-made, but they can not be considered "organic" just because they are not man-made. An example of a chemical that is not made by man, but is inorganic, is water.

Here is a link that might be useful: more about organic, inorganic, borates and other stuff

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 7:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I read about 20 MuleTeam Borax for killing Fleas on carpets in Organic Gardening about 15 yeras ago. Tried it after using many chemical killers ... Fantastic! Been putting on carpets since then and I have 5 indoor cats and one little chi dog.It's cheap and effective ... one box has lasted about 4 years.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 8:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Borax is "sodium borate decahydrate" or "sodium tetraborate decahydrate" (salt of boric acid) or Na2B4O2 10 H2O. It's not an organic compound. -just thought I'd mention it.

Here is a link that might be useful: info on borates

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 9:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Where can I buy 20 Mule Team Borax at? Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 12:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Interesting discussion guys. I googled 20 Mule Team Borax and this discuddion came up.

Anyway, you can buy the product from your local grocery store in the laundry section. I got mine from Albertson's here in San Diego.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 8:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I have to add that when I was a kid, I don't think Murine, Visine, etc even existed. After a day of swimming at the local chemically treated pool, we used boric acid solution in an eye cup as an eye wash to cure buring eyes from chlorine. Didn't measure it or sterilize it or anything. The whole family used the same cup. Seems to me that everyone used it to irrigate a foreign body from eyes, too. My generation is still here decades later. So it's hard for me to see it as toxic now!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 8:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"The dose makes the poison." Paracelsus 1493-1541

    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 6:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am trying to find a 'recipe' for making my own termite preventative solution to apply to new wood surfaces to prevent the infestation of termites. From what I have read, borax and boric acid combined with glycol, spread on new wood, will act as such a preventative. I need the instructions on how to mix this at home.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2005 at 10:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

New email:

I have updated the boric acid and "natural" products information page (see below)

Here is a link that might be useful: Boric acid and comparative toxicities of common household chemicals

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 5:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First off, can I say what a total NIGHTMARE registering for this website is ! Three attempts and I'm not computer illiterate, anyway.

I wanted to write about the Borax ant traps because I read all the posts in this string and I want to add my experience; the short and sweet is that it works VERY well. I bought regular old Borax cleaner, 1 teaspoon of refined sugar to a 1/3 teaspoon of borax, made a little pile where the ants are coming in and put a few drops of water on it, and that's it. The water is key, they don't seem to go after it as much without the water, not sure why ?

We have a terminal case of ants at our house (Northern Cal) and we had pretty much accepted that they were a part of our life. We tried to keep things clean (which with a 1 and a 4 year old is not easy) and put foods in ziplock bags, they weren't out of control but they were frequently seen about our home. Couple years back I used silicone to seal all the places I could see them coming in, this helped but it didn't stop them.

As mentioned with young kids I was very hesitant to use chemicals, however, when working in the yard if I came across a nest I would wet it to make them swarm and then hit them sparingly with Raid. Afterwards I would go back and hose off whatever I'd sprayed the Raid on. I know that probably doesn't zero out the effect but I figured it would dilute it. They seem to come in more during the winter and because there is a crawl space under out house they seem to winter under there. I also tried the "greener" orange oil pesticide and it works OK but only kills the ants that get sprayed directly and even with them it's not great.

Regardless we always had ants !

I had read this blog and thought about doing the Borax but it wasn't until they swarmed our bedroom (one of the kids had dropped some food under our bed) that I decided it was WAR. The Borax seems to work in about 12 hours, in our room where there was carpet I put a dinner plate upside down on the floor and put the Borax water solution in the indent on the back. In other rooms where we have tile or wood I just put it directly on the floor. They swarm it initially, but then start to peter out, and generally the next day they are gone. I've used it 4 times in my house and 3 of those they have been totally eliminated. They came back in my bathroom but it was the same spot and there was still a little borax and sugar so they just started eating it AGAIN !

I've also used it outside, again, it doesn't take much, and it seems to work. I have gone from thinking I had to live with ants to now feeling like I may be able to have our home ANT FREE, or at the very least greatly reduced.

Someone questioned the toxicity of Borax powder, all I can say is another person posted that it is about the same toxic profile of salt, add to that this stuff has been around for 100 years so if it was really toxic I think we'd know by now. I have two kids who I am very protective of, organic foods, etc and I'm not worried about it.

So all in all I think this is a viable non-toxic alternative that can be used without concern for your health, works really well, and can replace things like poisonous sprays. Now, does everyone know about drowning snails in beer ? Yes, it's true, little bowls of beer set in your garden, they drown in it by the dozens ! TRY IT.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 4:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dr. Warner

I too share your frustration with people who insist that all naturally occuring things are "organic" and all man made things are "inorganic." Unfortunately this misunderstanding extends into professions where one would reasonably assume that individuals would undertant that organic compounds contain carbon and inorganics do not. I once had a technical sales rep from a major equipment manufacturer tell me that his test equipment could detect "organic" helium.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 9:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Does anyone know if we used boric acid powder before drywall for our new construction, how long it would be effective?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 6:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I found something GOOD that you will like about ants! If you have trouble falling asleep, here is a website for counting ants that will help:

Here is a link that might be useful: count ants to fall asleep

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 2:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I used to work for a couple who started their own business killing fleas in other people's homes. They did this after their first baby was miscarried right after a several week seige of horrendous fleas after they moved into an older home. The exterminator did his thing, wife became deathly ill, and the tiny infant died by spontaneous abortion.

The father is a professor at the School of Pharmacy at a well known southern university. He determined that he would find a product that would only kill fleas, not people.

When he found this combination, it worked so well he started a side business (I was the office mgr/sales) that was extremely successful until the drugs that you put on your pets skin to kill fleas overcame the need for home treatment. They packaged their formulation and retailed it and got out of the "extermination" business so wife could home school the kids.

The formula is 1 part borax, 1 part boric acid, one part TSP (Trisodium Phosphate). Mix well in a large pail with a tight fitting lid (save the left over for next time)

If you have carpet in your home, you must vacuum vigorously tow or three times the day before you treat the carpets. This vibrates the eggs embedded in the carpet (that fell off the cat or dog) and removes some of them and some of the "flea dirt" that also falls off the dog or cat and remains in the carpet to feed the larvae that hatch. This reduces considerably the number of fleas that end up having to be killed later.

Shake the powder over the surface of the carpet until it looks like frost on grass! Not too much, not too little. Now get the broom and push it, groom it into the carpet.If you have little ones or crawlers, be vigilant to keep them off the carpet until you next vacuum. The longer you can leave it the better...but after three or four days it is ok. Then vacuum each day for a week to remove the dead fleas, dead larvae and any excess powder. Some powder will remain deep in the carpet, killing any eggs that fall into it and hatch. It also kills any larvae or adult fleas that come into contact with it as it injures their bodies and they become dehydrated and die.

The couple used to guarantee this treatment for a year, but I know that some people were able to go as long as three years without any signs of new infestation. Some even steam cleaned their carpets and still no fleas!

All of this without treating the dog or cat at all. If you care about your pets, you would not want to hurt them with poisonous commercial pesticides would you?

If you have hardwood floors, purchasing a few remnants of pile carpet, and treating them yearly worked just as well. You can just roll them up and store them until next year!

Those who had berber and tightly woven carpets sometimes needed a finer milling of the ingredients so that the treatment could penetrate to the backing of the rug more easily.

If you want to vacuum every day, could probably eliminate all but a few fleas....but who has time to do that! And you would have to vacuum every inch probably. Most infestations are so severe by the time you notice them (bites on YOU, fleas and flea dirt in pet's fur). Just vacuuming a lot just stirs them up!

Just do this treatment once every year or so. Easier!


This is good for eliminating ants and roaches indoors. For them add one part granulated sugar, one part baking cocoa, and one part boric acid. Spoon some into a shallow plastic lid. Place these under the microwave, refrigerator, under drawers, in hiding places. Some people without pets and children can just sprinkle piles of this in corners and along baseboards. Leave for a week before vacuuming up at least three times a year or whenever you see ONE BUG. That in the lids can be left for several months before replacing. I got this formula from a guest on a radio gardening program a few years ago. Try it. It works.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 12:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

what does the baking cocoa do?

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 11:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've used 20 Muleteam borax around the perimeter of my yard and house outside for years and have never had a roach or ant problem. I live in a neighborhood that's known for having roach problems, but not me. I attribute this to my consistant use of borax. I usually put it down at the first signs of spring and then whenever I start noticing a bug problem, which is rarely. I also put it behind my hutch in the kitchen in the floor along the baseboard as I store food in that hutch. I am raising worms and have put borax around the bottom of the legs on the worm table to keep the ants at bay. No problems yet. I'm a big proponent of 20 Muleteam borax and it's a wonderful household cleaner as well. 2 Gallons hot water, 1/4 lemon juice, a couple squirts of Dawn and 1/2 cup borax will clean like crazy and leave a nice shine and smell behind and keep insects at bay.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 6:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I put some out on the step this year and had fun watching the carpenter ants try to jump over it, it was the ant olympics!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 12:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi guys,

I'm wondering if anyone can help me with my question...
I just moved into a flea infested suite 2 weeks ago. In a desperate attempt to get rid of fleas on my clothings, I sprinkled Borax over my very expensive dry cleaning only wool jacket without thinking of the consequences and dump it in a garbage bag. Now my problem is that I don't know if I can take it to the dry cleaner to get it clean since I don't know if Borax will react to any dry cleaning chemicals and ruin my jacket?! Or maybe it's ruined already? Anyone? Thanks

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 9:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Posted by jwarner191 10 ( on Tue, Aug 3, 04 at 22:05

Someone above said that "Diatomaceous Earth ... is completely organic." Well, that is not correct! Diatomaceous Earth is composed of silicon dioxide (SiO2). That is 100% INORGANIC!

Really? SI02 is inorganic? Then what do you call sand?

The chemical compound silicon dioxide, also known as silica or silox (from the Latin "silex"), is the oxide of silicon, chemical formula SiO2, and has been known for its hardness since the 9th century[1]. Silica is most commonly found in nature as sand or quartz, as well as in the cell walls of diatoms. It is a principal component of most types of glass and substances such as concrete.


Diatomaceous earth, also known as DE, TSS, diatomite, diahydro, kieselguhr, kieselgur and celite) is a naturally occurring, soft, chalk-like sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder.

Yep, looks pretty inorganic to me.

Silicon Dixoide

Diatomaceous Earth

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

glad you agree: diatomaceous earth and sand are inorganic materials.

Here is a link that might be useful: toxicities of common materials

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 9:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Also if you do any metal brazing it works well for a flux. Heat the brass rod with an acetylene torch and dip it in borax. Your ready to braze.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 8:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hey guys,
I have a roach problem. They're not city roaches, but these guys don't get bigger than maybe an inch (an inch even sounds like too much). Anyway, I read everyone's tips and I believe that everyone's got some really helpful advice. I'm going to try a couple of those. I found another recipe on another website. The user "lucyleaf" has left a recipe that sounds like it might be helpful, and I would like to share with all of you:

1 cup flour
1 small onion, chopped
6 oz Boric Acid
1/4 cup shortening (or a little less vegetable oil)

Blend until crumbly, and then add enough water to moisten. Make marble-sized balls. Put them everywhere.

This recipe sounds like it'll work because it mixes household food ingredients with boric acid. I'm actually thinking about glazing the outside of these little marbles with maple syrup to try to attract them to eat it even more. I'm also going to try using Borax to clean my kitchen floors (since that's where I believe the nests are.. they seem to be coming out of there).

:: sighs :: I'm at a loss. It seems like not matter how clean I keep the kitchen and wipe down the counter tops with Lysol, they keep coming back. I want to be rid of them for good. I live in an apartment building, and I know wiping them out is not easy -- but I at least want to keep them at bay.

I will gladly read any other suggestions.

Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 8:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The roaches are either coming from some secluded nest area in your apartment or from other apartments. Often they will come through the walls following plumbing tubes. If you have openings around the plumbing in bathrooms and kitchen, you might close them with some foam material. See if that helps.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 11:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had permanent ant infestations in the walls. The same type ants also came in from outside. I tried various ratios from 2% (1 tsp boric acid per cup of powdered sugar) to 12.4% (2 tbs boric acid per cup of powdered sugar) but this did not work. I sprinkled pure boric acid in crevices and on surfaces where the ants walked but the ants ignored it and did not even take a detour.

Instead of dry powdered sugar I tried substituting sugar water made from 2 cups water and 1 cup sugar with 2% to 12% ratios of boric acid. I put this out in multiple drops spaced 1/2 inch apart in jar lids and in cotton balls soaked in the boric acid/sugar water mixture. This seemed to work better and temporarily reduce the ant population but did not kill the queen and the colony recovered and returned.

Then I read somewhere that after mixing the water and sugar and boric acid the trick was to put it in the microwave and let it boil for 3 to 5 minutes until the boric acid is completely dissolved or completely reacted with the sugar and water. I have forgotten the best ratio, however.

Finally success! Boiling the mixture is what did the trick since boric acid will not completely dissolve in the sugar water without boiling. I did not write down the recommended ratio because I was skeptical but this time it finally got the queen(s) and there is no ant problem except for the occasional stray ant from outside. I have carpenter ants outside and want to try this again. Does anyone know the best ratio?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 6:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


1. Collect several ants (preferably 10 or more; NOT SQUASHED)
2. place ants in a crush-proof container, packed in hand-sanitizer gel
3. include:
a. name of the person who collected the sample
b. location the sample was collected (address or coordinates); you may also include the habitat (example: "under a log")
c. date of collection
4. send to:
Dr John Warner,
University of Florida Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center
3205 College Av
Davie, FL 33314
5. include your email address so the results of the identification can be sent to you
6. or a self-addressed, stamped envelope, if you do not have email.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 8:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To John Warner:
So after all these entries, can you say that 20 mule team borax is as effective as boric acid when used as a bait? Can we mix it with sugar and water to kill the queens?
BTW: what was the bait you used in the "counting ants" picture?


    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 9:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There is probably not much difference in the two as toxicants, but I have never tested them to compare their toxicities. You would have to do a separate test for each species of insect you want to kill.

The bait I used in the photo was liverwurst mixed with a little water to make it pliable. Bigheaded ants love it. There was no toxicant in the bait; it was just used to get ant population counts for experiments.

Have fun!

Dr Warner

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 9:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have been trying to get rid of ants in my garden, and while placing a cup of borax/sugar/water mix next to an ant hole where my lettuce use to be (they destroyed it), I spilled some. I dug up the dirt really deep and washed it out. Do I still risk poisoning the rest of my plants?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 1:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

1. Is a teaspoon of Borax per two plants going to hurt the zucchini? Gardening book said it was good.

2. Cotton balls, one cup water, half-cup sugar, two tbsp. Borax mixture wiped out major ant infestation overnight. Dissolve sugar in warm water, add Borax, soak cotton balls, leave in strategic places. Source:

There's even some practical advice on getting rid of ghosts.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 8:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Anyone ever tried 20 Mule Team Borax for bedbugs?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 10:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Need help getting rid of cockroaches. Would like to use 20 Mule Team Borax, any recipes??

We've been living in our new house for a little over a month, and seemed to have picked up some cockroaches either in the packing boxes, which were used (NEVER make that mistake again), or from storing our goods in a portable storage unit for a couple of weeks. Either way, we first saw a couple when we were unpacking our boxes, and then anywhere beetween 2-12 days I see one around the refrigerator, near the kitchen sink, or by the garbage. I sprinkle Borax in the trash every night hoping to attract and kill the roaches. I have started to sprinkle Borax in the refrigerator pan.

What are some good strategies/recipes for annihilating these vile creatures? We've identified them as German cockroaches. I only see one at a time, and I have killed the ones I've seen, but I know others are lurking. The last 4 that I've seen have been in the morning (daylight).

We have gotten rid of all the boxes (within a week), EXCEPT the ones in our basement storage, which have kids toys, some books, holiday decorations, the usual. Should we unpack all the boxes, go through all the items, get rid of the boxes, and then repack our stuff in plasic bins with lids???

If I had to pick a number, I'd say that I have seen and killed a total of 15 roaches from June 23 to today, August 3.

Would appreciate any help either by email or posting. Thanks for your help!!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 11:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For roaches:
Advion or MaxForce roach gel

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 8:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been battling Argentine ants in So. Calif. for twenty years. I know from my own experience that regular commercial pesticide treatments don't eliminate ants permanently, and that the problem seems to get even worse. I'm trying to avoid using ant sprays around my current home of eight years. I tried using a bait of borax and powdered sugar, both dry and with water, but the ants ignored the bait. I didn't know to use hot water to dissolve the borax completely, and I didn't know the difference between borax and boric acid, or where to find boric acid. Thank you to all the people who have contributed helpful information.

Thank you, Dr. Warner, for sharing your expertise and your website address.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 3:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ants, in your house, are a symptom of a problem not the problem. Spraying poisons in your house to kill ants is not the proper solution, determining why they are there and eliminating that reason is what will get rid of the ants. Carpenter ants in your house are an indication of a serious problem since their presence can mean a problem with the houses structure.
We had a problem with ants in the kitchen once and when we remodeled that kitchen found that the previous owners inept plumbing caused the wall behind the sink to be constantly damp and this was where the ants were gathering. That was cleaned up and fixed and the ants left and have not returned. We also had carpenter ants wandering around in the house and during a roof repair found a leak that allowed sructural wood to be we and this was where the carpenter ants were gathering. That was repaired, dryed out, and the carpenter ants left and have not returned. Do not simply treat the symptom but find out what the problem is and fix that.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 8:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I found that ACE hardware sells roach killer Boric Acid for $3.79 for 16 oz.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 10:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We moved into a newly built home at the end of November (there was already snow on the ground). In the middle of March we noticed our first ant and thought they were coming from outside. But it turns out they must have built a nest in the wall and lay dormant through the winter. They were in our kitchen, but not going anywhere near food. Then we noticed them in our master ensuite which is directly above the kitchen. After reading that they like damp areas I paid close attention to our toilet, and sure enough they were coming up the plumbing underneath the toilet seat.

I used the recipe noted way above: 1/3 tsp borax, 1 tsp sugar, a few drops water to make a paste. I applied this to a torn open dixie cup and they swarmed it. I kept replacing the cup every so many hours as the paste dries out and they prefer it damp. It worked like a charm. I watched them with great fascination as they marched to the cup and back down the base of the toilet. The ones that died on the cup were carried back to the nest by the others. Problem solved in less than 12 hours. Haven't seen another ant since and it's been 2 weeks!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 9:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Boric Acid is available in vials under the brand name of Hot Shot at Home Depot. One vial treats 2 gallons of water. Spray it around, but not plants and around the foundation stem walls and on patios to kill a varity of pests like cockroaches, crickets and ants. Each spraying lasts 3 to 4 months. Hot Shot powder works well under kitchen cabinets. Boric acid is a solution of sulphuric acid and boron. (H3BO3) or B(OH)3 It is safe around children, it is just slightly more toxic than table salt. 20 Mule Team Borax and be mixed with electrolight (Battery Acid avialable at automotive stores or H2SO4 Sulpheric Acid available at plumbing suppy stores (drain cleaner)) I spray under kitchen appliances and bathroom cabinets and around toilets. Spray around plumbing penetrations to prevent cockroaches from coming up pipes from underground. Based on mammal median lethal dose (LD50) rating of 2,660 mg/kg body mass, boric acid is poisonous if taken internally or inhaled. Home made ant poison can be made with 1 teaspoon of boric acid and 10 teaspoons of sugar into 2 cups of water then pour it around ant trails. They take it back to the queen, destroying the colony.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 6:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Warnerjk, You should take some chemistry classes, AND DON'T TELL PEOPLE TO PLAY WITH STRONG ACIDS!! I hope people have some common sense and will not go to the automotive or plumbing stores to buy and play with strong acids. Come on!! Boric acid is not a "solution of sulphuric acid and boron"... Boric acid does not even have sulfur in its molecular structure! Many of the things he said in his post are just wrong. Drain cleaner?? Come on. Look it up.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 9:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

how do i get rid of carpetener bees?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 9:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In my personal experience, The borax/ sugar water mix has been absolutely amazing. 3 years ago we had a horrible infestation of ants. they were in every room of the house. I tried ant traps, sealing any cracks, keeping everything clean, dusting with cinnamon and red pepper, and even that horrible clear spray bottle stuff (looks like a bottle of window cleaner.) Eventually I found the recipe for the borax/ sugar water, and within 3 days they were all gone.

What I do is take 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, and simmer in a pan on the stove until all the sugar is dissolved. Then I take it off the heat and stir in 1-2 tablespoons of borax. The borax dissolves easily this way. Then I put some in old butter/sour cream/ baby food/ etc. lids and tuck them in various places around the house, making sure it's where the kids and cats can't get to them. Good places are under the stove, under the microwave, behind dressers, in window sills, etc.. I put some in a jar on it's side and tuck it under the back deck. Then I take the rest and pour it right on the ground near any ant hills, or where I see some scurrying. I haven't noticed any damage to my plants because of this.

If the sugar water isn't working, the ants might be the kind more attracted to grease/fats. Mix about a teaspoon of borax with the grease from 1 lb of cooked hamburger. Just drain the hamburger grease into a metal can and mix the borax in while it is still hot.

This year I'm trying some in my strawberry bed, as there have been various pests eating my berries. I put some under the boards in my trench/walkways, and some in a yogurt cup on it's side. Just this morning I've noticed that not only are the ants going for it, but there are some slugs stuck in there as well. Even if the borax isn't killing them, I'm sure the sugar water is glueing them to their death. I wonder if a little salt mixed with the sugar water mix, in a shallow bowl, would be even more effective?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 11:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Organic, to most people means not man-made -
at least the marketing definition means not man-made (that doesn't mean not man/woman prepared or assembled)
because some people dont trust eating synthetic (A compound made artificially by chemical reactions) and artificial stuff, because they dont yet know what they are doing;
so alternately if plants made plastic, that would be not only probably biodegradable but also considered organic for many because it evolved naturally over time (millions of years) and wasn't forced in some lab (nothing against experimenting safely BTW)

- the Merriam/Websters definition does say organic is organic evolution - then AFTER that it also says carbon compounds but it says organic evolution 1st and does NOT say ONLY carbon compounds are organic, so carbon compounds may be organic and some may not be but that does not mean all carbon compounds are and that all things that arent aren't; just like we can make diamonds now synthetically or dig them up - one is organic and the other obviously synthetic.

* for example an inorganic sweetner like Equal or Nutrisweet has aspartame and it will attract bugs and kill them without having to add anything to it - hence why people may want to eat organic and not trust eating synthetic stuff,

+ or you could get some venus fly traps' I would say DE is usu. organic unless we synthetically made it or that unless it fits in to the whole of things it,s un-organic unless we comprehend 100 percent what we are doing and that is light-years away probably; but also we need to experiment to get there . . . )forming an integral element of the whole - is another part of the Websters/Merriam definition for organic(

but also I would say boric acid and borax are both good multi use products if used smartly, safely, obviously if anything is used to kill bugs you may want to make sure it doesn't go overboard, and they have been used to treat wood for years and other uses, boric acid will get er done and borax may be a tad safer from what I understand,
I like but I wont eat em

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 7:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had a big problem with argentine ants. I used the recipe above to get rid of them. 1 teaspoon regular sugar, 1/3 teaspoon of mule team borax, about 3 drops of water to make it a paste. I used the mixture mostly on the outside because I didnt want to draw more ants inside. When used the ants will initially swarm the mixture and most of the ants will be gone within 24 hours. However, there may be a few straglers roaming around. Anytime I see more than about 4 ants in one spot or a line, this stuff will pretty much wipe them out!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 10:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

jwarner... you shouldn't be so quick to lecture warnerjk about chemistry. The Borax from a 20 Mule Team box is mostly Borax decahydrate (Na2B4O710H2O), a hydrated sodium salt of Boron. This salt, when combined with a strong acid, will react to form boric acid (H3BO3), water, and another salt. The reaction with hyrochloric acid is Na2B4O710H2O + 2 HCl → 4 B(OH)3 [or H3BO3] + 2 NaCl + 5 H2O, but as warnerjk says, sulfuric acid could also be used. They would just yield different salts as byproducts of the reaction, but both would produce boric acid.

The caution about trying this at home is certainly valid, though. In addition to the hazards of handling strong acids, with sulfuric acid there's the problem of the release of poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas as the sodium sulfide salt reacts with the air. This is an experiment which should be done under a fume hood in a properly equipped chem lab. And finally, you need to purify the boric acid from the mix of reaction products. If you really want boric acid instead of borax, you're much better off just buying the right product.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 4:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As a follow-up to this thread, a good tip is that companies are required to file "Material Handling Data Sheets" describing their products and ingredients.

Here's a link to the MHDS for 20 Mule Team Borax:

It lists the ingredients as:

Here is a link that might be useful: 20-Mule Team Borax MHDS

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 5:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here in Southern California Argentine ants are a huge pest problem. Frustrated by commercial poisons, I sought and found a recipe that seems to have wiped out a colony which had invaded my home. Try 1/4 teaspoon boric acid, 3 tablespoons water, and 1 tablespoon sugar. WARNING: While the bait is doing its work there will be numbers of ants taking the bait away. Bear with it and leave them alone. Remember, you want to kill the colony, not just the ones you see. Within 24 hours 98% of the ants were gone. There were still a few stragglers on the second day taking bait. Be tenacious. Also, these ants are in your neighbors yards, so any fix is only temporary. At the first sign of ants set the bait out.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 12:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm in the middle of using borax as part of an overall plan to eradicate fleas from my pets and home.

The organic debate is interesting as the term has countless meanings these days. Interior decorators might want the bedroom to look more organic. Organic lettuce versus non-organic lettuce in the grocery store (my biased dictionary translates this to overpriced versus regular priced). And a black-and-white chemistry definition just requires looking for the C in the molecular structure.

But the real question is how are marketers using the word on packaging and is it a good thing to buy something organic to fight fleas or ants or roaches. Reading jwarner's link on DE, be careful feeling too safe around organic DE! I almost bought it at Home Depot and I'm not one who wears safety glasses and breathing masks ... glad I didn't ...

    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 2:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

have lots of oak trees infested with what appears to be carpenter ants (black) eating the heart of trees, killing them, and of course lots of fire ants-its real sandy here-need help getting rid of them before they (carpenter ants) kill any more trees

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 10:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Marcie, the Presence of Carpenter Ants is a symptom of a problem. The Ants are not the problem.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 6:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for all the postings, I wanted to get borax for my gardens. I have been having an annoying critter problem. They have dugg up my garden beds every night. I have tried everything on the shelf for racoons and others since I'm not sure what is the guilty culprit. Glad I didnt get the borax.(would have killed my garden and probably left all the critters laughing.........need help on keeping them away.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 10:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a great post. you got cheap handbags online .I like cheap designer handbags as well give you designer handbags outlet

Here is a link that might be useful: cheap handbags

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 12:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for all the great information posted on this site regarding Boric Acid / 20 Mule Team Borax. I had Black Carpenter ants in my house occasionally for 3 years. This year was terrible because of all the rain we had, 6 inches in Western New York. The ants were unbearable. I even hired a professional service, one which is advertised on this site, with no relief. In fact the situation got worse. Tuesday, May 31st I made up the solution of sugar, water and Boric Acid, then soaked cotton balls and strategically placed them where I thought the problem was. I was amazed and I have not seen another carpenter ant since Tuesday evening. Thanks again to everyone for all the valuable information posted on this site. I can now sleep with my eyes closed!!! 8)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 3:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ok, so I am trying to get rid of roaches. We tried roach traps which didn't work and now have an exterminator come every other month. Infestation is very light but they are only in the kitchen on the counters which is disgusting. Our 2 year old daughter keeps getting sick and we think this could be the culprit. From what I am reading boric acid is the thing to use but I am scared to use as I don't want to poison my daughter or our 3 animals. What else can I do, we are desperate!! Help!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 4:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've used a mixture of boric acid and peanut butter, this can then be placed into pieces of cut up drinking straws and placed at the back of counters, under things and out of reach of children and pets. My parents had little red sugar ants? and they tried professional exterminators, and many other products, my dad read someplace about the straw filled boric acid peanut butter mix, a few weeks later....NO ants, since then I've tried it and it works great.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 11:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I found something I don't think is widely known. These new cat treats that cats go crazy about are VERY GOOD for ant bait because the ants go crazy about them too. As an experiment I ground up two small treats, each the size of a pea and put it near where I saw two or three ants. Within an hour there were 3 or 4 hundred ants. I have never seen them swarm so quickly or in that amount.

Of course, you MUST be careful to protect the site where you put the poison so that the cat won't get to it.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 7:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

one cup sugar 3 Tbsp boric acid 3 cups warm water mix store in jar soak cotton balls with this mix and set cotton ball in lid they will eat and take back to nest :0

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cockroaches need to ingest, eat, the Boric Acid for it to work and that most often happens after they walk through some and then groom themselves. The first step in controlling cockroaches is a good clean up, making sure there is no food source for them. Cockroaches will eat any and every thing. Once the clean up has been done then Boric Acid chrystals should be spread around where the cockroaches are so they will walk through the chrystals.

Here is a link that might be useful: About cockroach control

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 7:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have heard somewhere to rid your home of termites use one cup 20 mule tam borax to one gallon of HOT water spray unfinished wood to run off, let dry and do two more times. You'll never have termites or carpenter ant issues again. Has anyone tried this ?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2014 at 12:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Termites tend to eat the wood in the interior of a board so a surface treatment described above would not be very effective in controlling them. The best way to control Carpenter Ants is to keep the wood dry since they prefer wet wood.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2014 at 6:51AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
What bug or animal builds this?
Hi there, I've lurked on this website for a while and...
Tiny black hairy caterpillars on ceanothus
Leaves on ceanothus (Joyce Coulter, I believe) are...
Yellow Jackets in my house.
Yellow Jackets have been getting in through a spot...
Unwanted - Unknown Name Worm - Centipede
It seems like I see these worms/centipedes in my garden,...
Something in my closet, maybe
Please I hope somene can help me!!! Most of my t-shirts...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™