(NEXSTAR) — Yet another new, unsafe trend is catching attention.
This time, some TikTok users are encouraging viewers to add borax to their water, claiming the common cleaning product can help reduce inflammation and joint pain, or even “detoxify” the body. As you may have guessed, health officials are warning of the consequences the trend could have on your health.
Borax, or sodium tetraborate decahydrate, is a chemical compound commonly available in the form of a white crystalline powder. It’s been utilized in a variety of ways since the Middle Ages, and today is often used a laundry detergent, kitchen/bathroom cleaner, and even a bug and weed killer.
Boric acid has also been found to have bacteriostatic properties, meaning it can prevent the growth of bacteria, Dr. S. Ruddy Rose, director of VCU Health’s Virginia Poison Center, told Nexstar.
Despite its endless safe uses, however, borax is not approved for ingestion by humans.
Ingesting borax can cause people to become quite sick, according to Dr. Rose, leading to convulsions, problems with the gastrointestinal tract, heat burns, and even kidney damage.
“This happens pretty quickly,” he adds.
Even the company behind 20 Mule Team Borax, a popular borax product, has warned against participating in the TikTok trend.
“20 Mule Team Borax has many uses but ingesting is not one of them,” the company warned on July 25.
“Do not bathe in, apply to skin, or ingest Borax, including drinking it diluted in water,” the company continued. “It is not intended for use as a personal care product or dietary supplement.”
Should your child fall victim to the trend, Dr. Rose said you can follow up with the child’s pediatrician, as long as they don’t have any symptoms. But if your child is vomiting, has abdominal pain, or experiences a seizure or other serious symptoms, it’s best to seek emergency medical attention.
Several videos recommending borax have been removed from TikTok, according to NBC News.
Social-media users, meanwhile, should always be cautious about taking medical advice from influencers or TikTok personalities.
“Just beware of these types of activities,” Dr. Rose said. “The people promoting it may not be doing it for the right reason.”
There are plenty of non-dangerous ways to use borax that you may not be aware of.
- It can unclog drains. As recommended by Southern Living, 1/2 cup of borax and two cups of boiling water down a clogged drain should clear it right out. Let the solution sit for 15 mins before flushing with warm water.
- It’s a pest deterrent/killer. Borax is a desiccant, which means it sucks up moisture. In this way, borax can be useful to sprinkle in places where bugs might ordinarily populate. The powder will keep the area dry and make it less optimal for insects to make home. Meanwhile, if bugs are already in your home, it’s not too late. The Spruce explains that insects, like cockroaches and ants, become “dried out” from the inside and die after eating the powder.
- It can help grow your fruit trees. Bob Vila recommends adding borax to the soil around your tree to help keep the plant’s pH levels desirable for growth.
- It’s in ingredient in “slime.” If your kids love making and playing with slime, Taste of Home has a recipe for using borax to make the stretchy, gooey stuff.