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Making Bouncy Balls - but where to get Borax in Ireland?

I have found an article on the interwebs about making bouncy balls at home.
I have always enjoyed fun home science projects and wanted to make some myself.

The recipe for a bouncy ball calls for:

  • Two plastic cups
  • Two craft sticks for mixing
  • Water
  • Measuring spoons
  • Borax
  • Corn starch
  • Glue
  • Food coloring

I have all of those ingredients except for Borax.

Borax, which as far as I'm aware is sodium borate is a common ingredient in a lot of slime-like and rubber-like projects, but all the ones I have stumbled upon, now and in the past, were written by and targeted to residents of the USA. Apparently Borax is very commonly used there as a detergent. Getting Borax in Irealnd, or in the EU for that matter, is a completely different story.

Apparently a European Union Directive that went in force in June 2009 re-categorised boron salts as toxic, which means they are no longer widely available. This information is from Borax Free website, I am still looking for the relevant documents in the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) archive - they are nearly impossible to find.

[Edit: documentation now enclosed, found on ECHA website]

There are some posts on boards.ie that suggest that Borax can be bought from a pharmacy or from a DIY store (boric acid seemingly has had been used to treat wood and get rid of ants) but none posted since June 2009 so it would appear stopped looking for, or finding Borax anywhere in Ireland after that time.

I will be still looking around, but it would appear that without Borax my dream of home made bouncy balls might be over before it even started.


*** Natural sources Borax

*** Natural sources

Borax occurs naturally in evaporite deposits produced by the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes. The most commercially important deposits are found in Turkey; Boron, California; and Searles Lake, California. Also, borax has been found at many other locations in the Southwestern United States, the Atacama desert in Chile, newly-discovered deposits in Bolivia, and in Tibet and Romania. Borax can also be produced synthetically from other boron compounds. Naturally occurring Borax, (known by the trade name Rasorite – 46 in USA and many other countries) is refined by a process of re-crystallization.[18]

*** Toxicity

A significant dose of the chemical is needed to cause severe symptoms or death. The lethal dose is not necessarily the same for humans.

Sufficient exposure to borax dust can cause respiratory and skin irritation. Ingestion may cause gastrointestinal distress including nausea, persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Effects on the vascular system and brain include headaches and lethargy, but are less frequent. "In severe poisonings, a beefy red skin rash affecting palms, soles, buttocks and scrotum has been described. With severe poisoning, erythematous and exfoliative rash, unconsciousness, respiratory depression, and renal failure.[21]

Boric acid solutions used as an eye wash or on abraded skin are known to be particularly toxic to infants, especially after repeated use, because of the slow elimination rate.[22]

Borax was added to the Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) candidate list on 16 December 2010. The SVHC candidate list is part of the EU Regulations on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals 2006 (REACH), and the addition was based on the revised classification of Borax as toxic for reproduction category 1B under the CLP Regulations. Substances and mixtures imported into the EU which contain Borax are now required to be labelled with the warnings "May damage fertility" and "May damage the unborn child".[23]

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