Are Soda Crystals The Same As Borax?

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Wondering if soda crystals are the same thing as borax? Let me solve all your natural cleaning queries, by taking a quick look into this for you.

When I first started making my own natural cleaning products, I was overwhelmed by the different ingredients used.

From learning what these ingredients do, to what these ingredients can and can’t be mixed with, it felt like a steep learning curve.

I’m the first to admit that it is tricky navigating the green cleaning landscape as a beginner.

When you read green cleaning recipes, some of the names of the ingredients used might be new to you. There’s also the issue that some countries use different names for key green cleaning ingredients. It’s enough to make your head spin!

Whilst baking soda is the same as bicarbonate of soda, you might be confused by soda crystals and borax. Specifically, if soda crystals and borax are the same thing, or can be used interchangeably? Let’s clear things up!

Are Soda Crystals The Same As Borax?

Natural cleaning products on a grey background with a blue text box that reads are soda crystals the same as borax?

Soda crystals and borax are not the same thing, and can’t be used interchangeably.

Yes, they do look the same – both taking on a white powdery appearance. And yes, both ingredients are commonly used in natural cleaning recipes. However, soda crystals and borax have different chemical compositions and uses from one another.

To understand a little more, let’s take a look at each ingredient in detail and see what each one is used for.

What Are Soda Crystals?

Soda crystals – often referred to as washing soda outside of the UK – is scientifically known as sodium carbonate. In plain English, this is a salt that contains no other additives.

Soda crystals are an alkali. Don’t worry. I’m not going to go full chemistry teacher here. All you need to know is that alkalis easily dissolve in warm water. Alkaline cleaning products are also especially good at degreasing. That may be breaking down fatty, greasy, or oily deposits on hard surfaces or on your clothes.

It is this dissolvability and degreasing properties that make soda crystals so effective when it comes to doing the laundry and cleaning your kitchen.

There are heaps of uses for soda crystals. From cleaning your washing machine and dishwasher, to naturally clearing your drain or oven. There’s not a job that’s too greasy for soda crystals!

Borax isn’t powerful enough to take on these heavy-duty greasy jobs – so save your soda crystals for these jobs.

Soda crystals can be cheaply and easily bought at most supermarkets or hardware stores. If you can’t find any, you can pick soda crystals up online. Do see my guide to where to buy soda crystals for the best deals. 

What Is Borax?

Before we get into what borax is, it is important to know that borax was banned from sale in the EU back in 2010, over concerns that it may be hazardous to health.

Worry not, though. Borax Substitute is widely available and is a very similar yet safe equivalent.

Now, let’s take a closer look at borax substitute so you can see the differences between it and soda crystals.

Borax substitute is scientifically known as sodium sesquicarbonate – an alkaline mix of soda crystals and bicarbonate of soda. This means it is gentler than pure soda crystals yet stronger than bicarbonate of soda.

Whilst the differences might be a little hard to distinguish, borax substitute is different from soda crystals.

Whilst soda crystals are dissolvable, it does cake in cold water. Borax substitute, on the other hand, is cold-water-soluble. This makes borax substitute a better choice for tackling laundry stains when washing at lower temperatures.

As well as laundry, borax substitute also has many uses around the home. It comes into its own when tackling mould and mildew. Borax substitute also makes for an effective bathroom cleaner, tackling stains on your grout and more.

Borax substitute can be a little harder to find than soda crystals. Find it in hardware shops or check out my guide on where to buy borax online.

I hope I’ve been able to clear up your borax vs soda crystals queries. Got any more green cleaning questions? I’m always happy to help!

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