Borax vs. Baking Soda: Difference Between Borax and Baking Soda

Do you wish there was a more affordable and environmentally-friendly way to clean? Your wish might just come true if you try baking soda or borax.

Many people use baking soda to clean most things, including homes and swimming pools, but borax is also a useful product. 

Understanding Borax 

Borax is a critical boron compound that has the chemical formula we have looked above. However, the word borax can refer to different compounds which look similar, the only difference being their water level. They include:

  • Borax decahydrate – (Na2B4O7•10H2O)
  • Borax pentahydrate – (Na2B4O7•5H2O)
  • Sodium tetraborate or anhydrous borax – (Na2B4O7)

Borax is used in different types of cleaning recipes, where it is added for its ability to cut grease and fight stain. You will find it in various products and sectors, not only cleaning chemicals. 

For instance, in some gold mining projects, it is used to replace mercury. It is also used as a preservative in food, although it is illegal to use it in the USA. 

In short, borax is used:

  • For water softening 
  • To make buffers
  • As an ingredient in cleaning agents and laundry products 
  • For the mining of gold in some industries 
  • To create complexes with other substances

Understanding Baking Soda

Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a leavening product that is commonly used to aid baked food rise, such as cookies, muffins, pancakes, and others. It readily found in the supermarket and is quite affordable. 

Additionally, it is one of the best cleaning agents you can get. Its primary uses include the following:

  • Used to neutralize bases and acids
  • Can be used to increase water alkalinity
  • Used as a mild disinfectant 
  • Useful as pest control for cockroaches 
  • Mainly used for cooking as a leaving powder

Is Borax and Baking Soda the Same?

Borax vs Baking Soda

Some people think that borax is the same as baking soda because they are used for almost the same purpose. However, baking soda is chemically different from borax.   

Both are excellent household cleaners in the bathroom, kitchen, swimming pools, and freshening laundry. Both are friendly to the environment and green options to commercial cleaning chemicals. 

If that is the case, then what is the difference between borax and baking soda? 

Differences between Borax and Baking Soda

One significant difference between these products is that while baking soda can be used to prepare foods, borax shouldn’t be consumed. That is why many homeowners use baking soda to clean their homes especially if they have kids and pets.

Borax is a name given to either hydrate or anhydrous forms of sodium borate. Its chemical formula is Na2[B4O5(OH)4]•8H2O and the molar mass is 381.38 g/mol. On the flipside, Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Its chemical formula is HaHCO3, and the molar mass is 84 g/mol.

History of Borax and Baking Soda

Borax was first created in 1881 in Death Valley and is sold commercially by the 20 Mule Team Brand. It hit the market in 1981.

Baking soda was introduced in the market in 1846 and is used in several applications like preserving, cleaning, and cooking.

Are Borax and Baking Soda Effective in Maintaining Pool?

Both borax and baking soda are used to maintain swimming pools. However, they contain different chemical makeups that make them different. 

Therefore, you can use borax to raise or stabilize your swimming pool pH. On the other hand, you can use baking soda to increase the alkalinity of your facility without changing the pH.

How Does Borax Work?

Borax has different chemical properties that make it an excellent cleaning agent. It cleans and bleaches by turning some water molecules into hydrogen peroxide. 

The reaction is more effective in warm water compared to the cold one. Borax has a pH level of 9.5, so it is a product that produces a basic solution when mixed with water. 

What that means is that you can use it to raise the effectiveness of other cleaners, including bleach. The product also acts as a buffer in some chemical reactions. A buffer helps to maintain a stable pH level to ensure that cleansing chemicals react the right way. 

The oxygen of boron and/or the boron salt inhibits the metabolic process of most organisms. That feature makes borax an excellent product for killing and disinfecting unwanted pests. 

It also bonds with some particles to keep ingredients scattered evenly in a solution, which boasts the surface area of the particles to improve the cleaning ability. 

You can also combine borax with zinc to prevent smoke and fire in electrical cable coverings. 

From how it works, borax is a great product for cleaning and maintaining homes and swimming pools.

How Does Baking Soda Works?

Baking soda also has some unique uses that make it a great product that you can use to clean your pool

To begging, unlike candles or other fresheners, which only mask the smell, baking soda absorbs odors that might make your home smell less fresh. That is why people leave baking soda in the refrigerator – it is a base that neutralizes most acid smells.  

Baking soda also mixes with vinegar to form a reliable cleaning solution. You can use that solution to unclog drains, removing grease, and other dirt from your utensils. 

For some items, the product works more effectively than regular soap. Although soap is a base, it contains some fat molecules that ensure it is friendly to the skin. 

Baking soda is abrasive, which makes it a better product for dislodging particles and getting rid of stains from different surfaces. It is also an excellent product for controlling pest without harming people. That is possible because it passes gas when heated to at least 300-degree F.  

Final Conclusion 

From what we have looked above, we can conclude that borax and baking soda are used for cleaning purposes, making them almost identical products. However, they both have their unique chemical formulas that make them different products.

With that said, you can choose either borax or baking soda to clean your home and swimming pool.