What Is Sodium Borate?

Improves bone and joint health and balances hormones

Sodium borate is a naturally-occurring compound composed of boron, oxygen, hydrogen, and sodium. Trace amounts are found in soil, water, plants, and animals, but it is most commonly found in sediments and sedimentary rock formations. Most sodium borate found in the United States comes from the seasonal lakes in the Mojave Desert in California.

Sometimes in the form of borax or sodium tetraborate, sodium borate is widely used in cleaning products, cosmetics, and personal care products. Researchers have also discovered that the mineral boron is essential for plant health and that it may also play a role in human health.

While it is not safe to consume sodium borate, there is early evidence to suggest that boron could offer health benefits, including supporting bone health, improving nervous system functioning, reducing inflammation in the body, and balancing hormones. 

Death Valley salt flats, a source of sodium borate
maydays / Moment / Getty Images

What Is Sodium Borate Used For?

If you’ve never heard of the potential health benefits of boron, you’re not alone. It’s only recently that scientists have discovered its role in human health.

This mineral is a natural component of certain foods and is normally present in trace amounts in the body. In fact, boron deficiency has been linked to certain health problems.

Growing evidence suggests that boron could offer health benefits, including:

Bone Health

Researchers have known for many years that boron is essential for the growth and maintenance of healthy bones.

The levels of calcium and magnesium—two minerals known to impact bone health—are affected by boron in the body.

A 2020 review of 11 studies involving boron's impact on bone health found that dietary supplementation of 3 milligrams per day (mg/day) of boron is helpful in supporting bone health in order to prevent osteoporosis and maintain adequate bone mineral density.

Dried plums, which are rich in boron and other nutrients, show promise for preventing bone loss in people who have gone through menopause, with the potential for long-lasting bone-protective effects. Five years after a one-year clinical trial, postmenopausal women who consumed 100 grams of dried plum per day had higher bone density than those who did not supplement with dried plum.


Boron supplementation may show promise for people who have osteoarthritis. Researchers believe it may increase calcium integration into cartilage and bone, strengthening these structures in the body.

A 2019 review of the impact on human health of naturally-occurring borates found in foods (fruits, nuts, herbs, and seeds) suggested that this mineral may help reduce knee discomfort and improve flexibility. The studies suggested that borates could be a safe way to improve mobility and reduce joint pain in both humans and animals.

Balances Sex Hormones

Estrogen and testosterone are two important sex hormones. Boron helps keep a healthy balance of testosterone and estrogen in the body. 

Testosterone, which is sometimes referred to as the male sex hormone, has many functions in the body, including building muscle and maintaining sex drive. Low testosterone levels can cause weakness, fatigue, depression, and sexual dysfunction.

One 2011 study found that men who received daily boron supplementation experienced a significant increase in the testosterone levels in their bodies after only one week of supplementation.

One study of people who had gone through menopause who received boron supplementation showed they had a significant increase of estrogen in the blood. Other studies, however, contradict these findings, suggesting that estrogen decreases after supplementing with boron. 

Possible Side Effects

When ingested in larger-than-recommended amounts, boron can cause unpleasant side effects such as:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

Boron has not yet been tested on people who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding, so speak with your healthcare provider before use. 

Dosage and Preparation 

Boron is incredibly versatile. Some Asian cultures use boron as a meat rub, tenderizer, or preservative. Ancient Egyptians used it in both medicine and mummification. In today’s world, its various forms are used for everything from laundry detergent to personal hygiene products. 

Like so many other nutrients, the key to getting enough boron in your diet is to eat whole, fresh foods. Most people are able to increase their intake of this compound through dietary sources. Most experts recommend increasing intake through dietary sources rich in boron, such as apples, bananas, almonds, lentils, and peanuts.

Those who supplement with boron generally find 3 mg/day is enough to be safe and effective. If you are using boron as a dietary supplement, it is important to follow the directions on the label for dosages. Taking excess amounts of the supplement can result in unwanted side effects. According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, adults should take no more than 20 mg/day. 

What to Look For

Many plant-based foods, such as almonds, raisins, and peanuts, are good sources of boron. Most research suggests that supplementation doses ranging from 1.5 to 6 mg per day is sufficient for most people’s needs. Boron supplements can be found in most drugstores as an over-the-counter (OTC) product or online.

A Word From Verywell 

More research is needed to assess the effectiveness of boron and its health benefits. That said, current research suggests that boron may be beneficial for balancing sex hormones, strengthening bones, and reducing arthritis pain.

Before you start supplementing with boron, consult with your healthcare provider first. They will be able to guide you to the right dosage amounts for your needs and the supplements that are right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you eat household borax?

    No. Borax that’s used for cleaning, pesticides, or other household uses can be toxic if ingested, causing vomiting, diarrhea, cardiovascular disorders, and seizures. It could be fatal if a large amount is consumed. You should also take care not to breathe in the powder or allow it to get in your eyes. 

  • How much boron do you need?

    Boron is not considered an essential nutrient and there are no recommendations or requirements for daily boron intake. However, a safe range is considered one to 13 milligrams per day. Boron occurs naturally in many foods, and a diet rich in overall nutrients should provide adequate amounts of boron. 

  • Is slime made with borax safe for kids?

    Yes. Large amounts of borax could be unsafe, but what’s used in DIY slime is not likely to cause a problem. Don't let your child lick or eat the slime, though, and avoid borax-containing slime if kids have cuts, eczema, or other wounds on their hands. If you’re concerned, you can look for slime recipes that use cornstarch or other non-irritating ingredients.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Arjmandi BH, Johnson SA, Pourafshar S, et al. Bone-protective effects of dried plum in postmenopausal women: Efficacy and possible mechanismsNutrients. 2017;9(5):496. doi:10.3390/nu9050496

  4. Hunter JM, Nemzer BV, Rangavajla N, et al. The fructoborates: Part of a family of naturally occurring sugar-borate complexes-biochemistry, physiology, and impact on human health: A reviewBiol Trace Elem Res. 2019;188(1):11-25. doi:10.1007/s12011-018-1550-4

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  7. Office of Dietary Supplements. Boron.

  8. Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Micronutrients. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Washington (DC): National Academies Press.

  9. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Boron.

  10. Stanford Children’s Hospital. Slime Time: Is It Safe for Kids?