While researching natural emulsifiers in the interest of extending our product line I found what, on the surface, seemed to be a responsible solution.
I had an unopened box of it in my laundry room since so many natural recipes call for it so I looked over the ingredient list on the side of the box: “Soduim Tetra Borate (a natural mineral)”. That was it! Mother Loving Potions is all about short ingredient lists so I was optimistic. Borax is what kids all over America and beyond are handling in their slime and what many “natural” and “homemade” lotions often call for as an emulsifier.
Borax / Borax Decahydrate / Sodium tetraborate decahydrate / disodium tetraborate is formed by repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes but can also be formed synthetically. I was interested specifically in the product originating in nature thinking natures occurrence would be the answer I had been searching for.
It turns out my commitment to knowing what EXACTLY is in our products tugged at a thread and soon I unraveled enough information to keep it out of our products and out of my home. The deeper I delved into researching the safety of the mineral the more shocked I was that I had ever considered using Borax in Mother Loving Potions.
Down the rabbit hole I went.
For starters, according to the American Borate Company’s Safety Sheet is thought to have “reproductive toxicity”– as in, it can be harmful to unborn babies and fertility. Why would we voluntarily put our babies, our fertility, and our children’s future fertility at risk?
Next I did a search on European Chemicals Agency’s website and found that in the EU products containing Borax must carry a label warning of its dangerous classification.
For me the last nail in the coffin was this: “Opinion of The Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products intended for Consumers concerning Boric Acid, Borates and Tetraborates adopted by the plenary session of the SCCNFP of 23 September 1998” proposing warning label regulation for Borax in the cosmetic industry.
Upon referring back to my box of Soduim Tetra Borate I saw no such warnings. I am not at all surprised that most people think it is a safe, natural alternative for cleaning, crafts, and DIYs. An “eye irritant” warning would not be enough to scare me away and of course we shouldn’t be eating cleaning or craft supplies so that would not scare me off either.
The significant information, to me, is what is missing on the labels. Fertility Risk.
My search for a healthy, responsible, and effective emulsifier / thickener continues. Our users can rest assured knowing we will NOT be reconsidering Borax in this lifetime.