borax and bugs

country-pool

Member
May 31, 2007
8
Rual Iowa
I love to experiment; just switched to chlorine from baq. I planned to take my 17500 AG pool to 50 ppm borate with borax. We swam yesterday AM and I noticed lots of water bugs.

Later in the day, I proceeded to add the borax and acid. Through the process, I wondered if this might clean up the water bugs as well as the other benefits.

Last night (after testing the water), we swam again; wouldn't you know it - the water bugs are all gone. This AM, I did a bit of Googling - and found that - of course - boric acid is
http://www.beyondpesticides.org/infoser ... _borax.htm
- a pesticide, long used to kill various bugs (but I suspect much higher concentrations
- a herbicide - interrupts photosynthesis
- a fungicide

Questions:
(1) has anyone else noticed this? (getting rid of water bugs)

(2) if I'm running this at 50 ppm, that would be - what, 50mg/liter? So I'm just sanity checking, my 6 year old daughter came in from swimming last night, crying. (1) she was tired and needed to be in bed, we just enjoyed the pool too long; (2) she had a belly full of gas, we figured that she swallowed too much air, needed to let it out (which she proceeded to do). Assuming that this stuff isn't toxic at this level, what IS the level that would cause problems? I understand that it takes 2-3 grams / kg to kill a rat. Less than that to injure it. It appears that borax has a similar toxicity as table salt? Can't think that would cause any problems (or drive out bugs in #1 above)?

(3) it appears that, since boron doesn't break down, if it is repeatly administered to a lawn, it will eventually build up and kill the lawn until it leaches out - maybe takes years? I'm thinking not a problem at this level. http://www.extension.umn.edu/info-u/plants/BG522.html

I have personally concluded that, at these levels, no toxicity to bugs or humans. But I'd love to see a discussion that uses real info (not just guessing like I am).
 

Buggsw

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 22, 2007
925
Arizona
I believe your conclusions are correct. I'm no chemist, but I'm sure that one of the chemical experts will be along soon to explain/answer your questions.

I just wanted to mention that products like Endure or Proteam Supreme, which are sold at pool stores are sodium tetraborate.
Here's a link that sells them and describes their usage and application.
http://nationaldiscountpoolsupplies.sto ... chem2.html
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,083
San Rafael, CA USA
This link gives the information you are looking for about boric acid. The entire document goes into a lot of detail and the part I linked to is for human toxicity. You are right that toxicity levels are very high at 640 mg/kg of body weight through oral exposure (i.e. drinking) and 8600 mg/kg through dermal exposure. Even the first signs of clinical symptoms require much boron to be ingested. You would not want a very young child to repeatedly drink quarts of pool water though that would still barely lead to clinical symptoms. Roughly speaking, at the 50 ppm level, the borates are about 3-5 or so times as "toxic" as the typical level of chlorine in the pool at 3-5 ppm FC. And such toxicity is from ingestion.

If you further read the document, there is an actual nutritional requirement for Boron so you really need to exceed that by quite a lot to be a problem. The bottom line is that the level of Boric Acid in the pool is low enough to be safe for humans, but not for small bugs (apparently) or for algae.

Richard
 

country-pool

Member
May 31, 2007
8
Rual Iowa
chem geek said:
The bottom line is that the level of Boric Acid in the pool is low enough to be safe for humans, but not for small bugs (apparently) or for algae.

Richard
It really did clear the bugs; I searched diligently for them tonight; I only found one of them, and that one was dead. I just hadn't seen reference in these forums related to the borax and water bugs.
 

Poseidon

Well-known member
May 24, 2007
148
Houston, Texas, USA
I can attest to the fact that borax is an effective pesticide for cockroaches (had to make that one word) (and I suspect many other critters). Mix some borax, powdered sugar, flour and water to make little dough balls. Put them in strategic places (like in the garage or under the kitchen sink).
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,083
San Rafael, CA USA
I wasn't questioning the effect of concentrated Borax on bugs. That is well known and is why it is used as a pesticide (kills ants, too). It was more as to whether 50 ppm concentrations in water killed more than algae. If one doesn't see as many bugs, not even dead ones, then perhaps they are kept away from the water by the boric acid that is in it rather than actually getting killed by it in large numbers. In any event, keeping the bugs away is a good thing.
 

country-pool

Member
May 31, 2007
8
Rual Iowa
chem geek said:
I wasn't questioning the effect of concentrated Borax on bugs. That is well known and is why it is used as a pesticide (kills ants, too). It was more as to whether 50 ppm concentrations in water killed more than algae. If one doesn't see as many bugs, not even dead ones, then perhaps they are kept away from the water by the boric acid that is in it rather than actually getting killed by it in large numbers. In any event, keeping the bugs away is a good thing.
OK, 'fession time. Upon retesting, it looks like my ppm level is closer to 80 (I dislike test strips, but that's what I'm using). Anyway, it really did clean out the bugs! I hate bugs, so I'm happy about this. The swimming experience is good.
 

EileenHill

Member
Jul 11, 2007
6
Nassau, Bahamas
will adding borax keep the ants away as well? we have a few larger bugs that make their way to the pool but our biggest problem is the ants. they're, of course, dead when we go out to have a swim but theres a lot of them and it really doesn't make swimming very enjoyable. we use the hand skimmer to get them out the the little suckers like don't come off of the skimmer net very easily so cleaning them out is quite a task!

one other thing - we have quite a few dragon flies that like to hang out and have an occasional drink out of our pool - i quite like their company. would adding the borax harm them also?
 

country-pool

Member
May 31, 2007
8
Rual Iowa
EileenHill said:
will adding borax keep the ants away as well? we have a few larger bugs that make their way to the pool but our biggest problem is the ants. they're, of course, dead when we go out to have a swim but theres a lot of them and it really doesn't make swimming very enjoyable. we use the hand skimmer to get them out the the little suckers like don't come off of the skimmer net very easily so cleaning them out is quite a task!

one other thing - we have quite a few dragon flies that like to hang out and have an occasional drink out of our pool - i quite like their company. would adding the borax harm them also?
I don't know how sensitive dragon flies are to borax. My guess is that if you have lots of dragon flies, you also have lots of mosquitos and gnats also; at any rate, the borax seems to be worth the trouble.

As to the ants, I suspect that they end up in the water accidentally and you would probabably improve this by spraying / dusting around the pool area to kill them off before they fall in.
 

waste

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 29, 2007
4,160
Coastalish 'down easter'
First and foremost, I'd like to extend a warm welcome to both country-pool (I know you've been here a while, but this is my first encounter with you :wink:) and EileenHill (my wife and I honeymooned at Sandlals 4 years ago - I envy you for where you live :lol: ) !!

I somehow missed this thread when it started :oops: (I don't know how it could have happened :? - I only work 60+ hours a week in June :roll:) Poseidon mentioned using Borax to rid a home of cockroaches - I read years ago about using it, but just sprinkling it dry around the floorboards in the infested rooms (source: The Straight Dope by Cecil Adams , articles most probably available at his website www.thestraightdope.com). His take on the borax was that it causes micro scratches in the roach's exoskeleton causing them to dehydrate, though this doesn't match up with Poseidon's method, in which the Borax is (probably) ingested - perhaps it works both ways?

Now we get to ants, I've read a couple of places that sprinkling DE (Diatomaceous Earth) around the perimeter of the deck will keep them away (or dead, whichever :twisted: ) through the microscratched exoskeleton -- DE is carcinogenic and probably isn't good for the pets to eat.

As I don't know the effects of Borax on dragonflies, is it possible to provide them a birdbath to drink out of? Having one with some sort of circulation will keep the mosquitoes from breeding.

Take care one and all! Happy 'bug-free' pools :-D
 

EileenHill

Member
Jul 11, 2007
6
Nassau, Bahamas
thanks for the welcome! :-D

it's great living here (i'm originally from NC but i've been here for 10 years - my husband is originally from here, though). it is a great place to live. the summers keep getting hotter and hotter, though, so the pool really does help make the days a bit more comfortable!

thanks also for the great tip about the DE! we do have dogs outside, so we would have to go about putting it around the perimeter in a way that there wouldn't be any chance they could ingest it. the bird bath idea is a great one too. it's actually mostly just the ants we have a problem with, we don't get too many other critters. so if the borax won't work for the ants then it really doesn't make much sense for us to do it. we will look into the DE idea.

I love this forum! I've gotten answers to so many questions just by reading past threads. I'm so glad that there are people out there who take the time to help :)