Getting rid of ants: boric acid or borax?

Getting rid of ants: boric acid or borax?

Oldies say the presence of ants in a house means luck. I never believed that crap. I understand that ants play an important role in ecology, that they hasten the decomposition of food and that they make the soil friendlier to plants when they bore and make holes.

But in and around the house — ants are pests. I don’t need them to decompose anything inside the house. In fact, what is there to decompose? Ants eat fresh food and make it inedible to humans. Just last week, they somehow managed to creep inside a tightly covered container of vegetable shortening. They ate their way through a thick plastic bag of glutinous rice. They were even in the mouth of vinegar bottles with screw-on caps. They embedded themselves in clothes hanging in a clothesline drying under the sun. It’s a nightmare.

When Speedy came across information about how boric acid can effectively get rid of entire ant colonies, he took the trouble of locating chemical company to buy a bag of boric acid. He read, learned the preparation and basically followed the instructions in the video below.

Sugar, boric acid, water, cotton balls. Speedy has soaked cotton balls in the boric acid-sugar solution and placed the cotton balls in strategic parts of the house away from the cats who may be adversely affected should they decide to lick the sweet fluffy things.

There are other videos that use a solution of Borax and sugar like this one below.

What’s the difference between Borax and boric acid, and which is really the preferred ingredient for homemade insecticide? I read up a bit.

1. Boric acid is a weak acid of the chemical boron. Remember the periodic table from high school? Boron is on the upper right side. Boric acid is found in sea water, fruits and plants.

2. Borax is the salt of boric acid. It is commonly used for laundry as it is an effective stain remover.

It is boric acid, not borax, that is used for making insecticides. It is toxic, you need protective gear to handle it and under no circumstances should you ingest or inhale it. Other than that, it is “safe.”

As insecticides, some act as stomach poisons in ants, cockroaches, silverfish and termites, while others abrade the exoskeletons of insects…

Available studies indicate that technical boric acid is practically nontoxic to birds, fish and aquatic invertebrates, and relatively nontoxic to beneficial insects. [EPA R.E.D. Facts]

Per the instructions in the first video, we’re supposed to replace the cotton balls a few times before seeing substantial results. Considering how everything else has failed, we’re really hopeful.

Stock photo of red ant from Pixabay

  • Anne

    Hi, i’ve been following your bog for quite some time now. Your recipes are a big help to me:) thanks!

    As to your ant problem, have you tried using Terro? It can be bought in true value and handyman. It’s effective for me, although ants do come back after sometime. I always keep a stock of it in my house and put it in those corners every so often.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      No, we haven’t used Terro. If boric acid doesn’t work, we’ll check that out. Thanks for the info, Anne.

  • peterb

    As i type this I am seeing ants crawling on the side of my cpu. There’s a lot more of them in other parts of the house. There was a time they were on the bath towels, which needless to say sucks big time if you’re coming out of the shower! Chalk works to drive them away, but i need them dead! I hope that solution works!

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Re: towels. Sheesh, I’ve been victimized so many times I’ve lost count. Ever experienced putting on clean jeans only to take it off again as fast as you can because dozens of ants have bitten your thighs? :shock:

  • Carol B

    I think now I know why the boric acid we put around the ant colony in our lawn were just ignored by the intelligent ants. The instruction in the container didn’t say to add something sweet to it.

    Since it didn’t work, a neighbor suggested malathion. We mixed 1 tbsp of malathion to 500 ml of water and pour it around and in the colony. Voila, the ants and its colony were gone. This will be the second year that we don’t see ant hills soil in our lawn. The only problem is that it has unpleasant odor.

    I learned also that this is what the city government is using to control mosquitos around the city. They spray the whole city with it.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      We tried malathion. I agree. It stinks to the high heavens. :(

  • Paula F

    Hi Connie. I would also recommend Terro, as another reader noted. That has worked best for me whenever I have an ant problem.

    I’ve also read from other websites that mopping countertops (or other areas that tend to get ants) with white vinegar can help. This seemed to reduce the problem, but not totally solve it.

    Btw, I live in the US, in California. So what works against ants here may be different from in Manila. But that said, it’s worth a shot.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      I tried vinegar. Once. My daughters complained about the odor that permeated the house hehehe Never did it again.

  • Kris

    Try putting laurel leaves in the source colony, path, wherever they are. Works wonders!

  • jinky

    I did try using borax (can’t find boric acid here in our place) dissolved in lukewarm water together with sugar. It did kill ants (the small ones are really all over in our house and even in our rice bin) but not overnight. I still have to wait at least for a week before I noticed that there are no more line of ants crawling.

    • lube

      Hi, i read your comment that you used borax. Where did you buy yours? Borax is effective in scabies too but i can’t find it here in the Philippines/. please help. thanks

  • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

    Just as an update.

    The boric acid trick isn’t working. The cotton balls dry up so fast in the summer heat.

    Kris, I tried that after the rice dispenser got attacked by ants. The bloody ants feasted on the laurel leaf instead. :(

  • tess mercado

    Ms. Connie, try diluting liquid dishwashing soap sa water, then spray sa mga ants, namamatay naman po, ito po gamit ko sa mga areas na hindi pwede ang insecticide.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Thanks, will try that. Nakaka-stress na talaga mga langgam. :(

  • faye

    aaarrrggghhhh! langgam everywhere..in the closets, bathroom, dining, bedroom ; ( same here, i do not know how to get rid of those smart lil’ destroyers. but thanks to this post ms. connie. i tried chalk but it will only lasts up to 2 days. maybe we should try malathion as boric acid didnt work per your experience. i think its better to apply it before we go out of the house for a grocery or something to avoid stinky smell ; )

  • http://www.boricacid.net.au Louise

    That’s a great recommendation for sugar ants, but some ants are instead attracted to proteins.

    To treat a protein ant infestation, replace the sugar with peanut butter or bacon grease. Mix with the Boric Acid and layout the mixture on pieces of paper or plates. Too easy!

    It’s good stuff the ‘ole Boric Acid.

  • tess mercado

    also ms. connie, according sa friend namin na may pest control company, pag may langgam daw po ang house walang anay.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Naku, I disagree. We have both ants and termites.

  • Mara

    Hi Ms Connie, I hope you don’t mind me asking where your husband bought boric acid? I’ve tried looking in hardware stores and supermarkets, to no avail.

    I’m planning to get prevent a possible roach infestation in my home, planning to mix boric acid and sugar since it seems to be very effective (according to reviews).

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      It’s a chemical store along Araneta Avenue in Quezon City. Can’t recall the name right now. Will ask Speedy when he gets home and update this comment.

      • Danny

        Alysons’ Chemical Enterprises, Inc. 1425 G. Araneta Avenue, near del Monte Avenue Quezon City, PHILIPPINES. Importer – Distributor – Wholesale – Retail.

        • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

          Yes, that’s the one!

  • http://kickme.to/lightningstalker The Lightning Stalker

    Something that works really well is yeast mixed with powdered sugar. They will usually take yeast because of the nutrient in it, but the sugar makes it irresistible.

    • Maya

      So Connie? Could you give us an update on ur borax experience? Did it work?

      • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

        I’ve no update on the “borax experience” because we didn’t use borax — we used boric acid. And if you will read through the comments, I’ve already posted an update. :)

  • http://gravatar.com/babycakesss babycakesss

    Hi Ms. Connie! Where were you able to get Boric Acid? I’m having a hard time finding one here in Manila. :(

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      That’s been mentioned in the comment thread. :)

  • Snix

    Do they deliver? Back when we still lived in Jeddah, it was easy to buy boric acid since it was sold also in supermarkets but it’s hard to come by here. I live in the south so I hope they deliver or something.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Why not search for the contact info so you can ask them?

  • fatdaddy

    You can find boric acid on eBay. I see 5 oz. for $4.20US and 1 pound for around $10.00US.