Getting Rid of Ants: Boric Acid or Borax?

Getting Rid of Ants: Boric Acid or Borax?

What’s the difference between Borax and boric acid, and which is really the preferred ingredient for homemade insecticide?

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, ants 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 and learned the preparation.

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.

What’s the difference between Borax and boric acid, and which is really the preferred ingredient for homemade insecticide?


  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.

How does boric acid get rid of ants?

Pesticide products containing Boric acid can act as stomach poisons in ants, cockroaches, silverfish and termites…

Will boric acid harm other animals?

Available studies indicate that technical boric acid is practically nontoxic to birds, fish and aquatic invertebrates, and relatively nontoxic to beneficial insects

Safe handling of boric acid

In mammals (including humans), boric acid is toxic IF ingested or inhaled in large quantities.

If you’re using the boric acid cotton balls solution to get rid of ants in and around your house, use protective gear: a face mask to avoid excessive inhalation and gloves to prevent skin contact which can cause irritation.

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.

How to Kill Ants With Corn Meal

There are countless tips and tricks for getting rid of unwanted ants, some of which are more effective than others. One technique is a simple application of cornmeal. However, cornmeal by itself is more likely to make the ants relocate rather than actually kill them. For this reason, boric acid should be added to the cornmeal. Boric acid is lethal to ants but will not harm humans or pets in small doses.

Mix 1 part boric acid to 10 parts cornmeal in a mixing bowl. For example, add 1 cup of boric acid to 10 cups of cornmeal.

Stir the boric acid and cornmeal together with your hands to thoroughly mix them together.

Sprinkle the cornmeal and boric acid mixture on top and around the anthills. Use just enough so there is a thin layer on the ground. The ants will eat the cornmeal, which will ultimately kill them due to the boric acid. If you have several anthills, apply the mixture on all of them.

Check the anthills two days later. If the ants are still active, apply more of the cornmeal mixture.

Kill Ants With Cornmeal

When it comes to getting rid of pesty insects, old-spouses’ tales swarm in as thick and fast as the insects themselves. This is the story you will read on the Internet about how cornmeal purportedly kills ants: Ants like to eat cornmeal and, if you spread it across the paths they regularly take in your home or garden, they will eat it. Given the dearth of scientific support for this system of ant-control, it seems unlikely to be effective. Add 9 parts cornmeal to 1 part insecticide like boric acid or borax. Add sufficient soybean oil to make the mixture into a paste. It is poison if ingested and can also be toxic on repeated exposure. Clean your house and yard to make sure that the ants do not have any other source of food.

Keep children and pets away from the boric acid.

Boric Acid Pesticides for Termites and Ants

While ants are mostly a nuisance pest, termites can cause serious damage to your home. But you do not have to use harsh chemical pesticides to rid your home of ants and termites. You can use boric acid, which in small amounts is less toxic to humans, pets and the environment. Use it as a preventative to keep termites and ants out of your home or to combat an infestation.

What Is Boric Acid?

Boric acid is found naturally in rocks, soils, plants and even animals. Its chemical makeup includes the element boron. Much of the boron and borax mined today comes from a mine in Boron, California, about 75 miles north of Los Angeles.

External Pesticide

Boric acid is abrasive. When applied to areas that are frequently traveled by ants or termites, the granules stick to the exoskeleton of the insect. This abrades the exoskeleton, eventually killing the insect. As the termite or ant moves back to the colony, it spreads the boric acid to other members of the colony. Boric acid-based insecticide powders and gels can be found at most any home improvement store. Apply them in any location you know there are ants or termites. Many pesticide companies using less toxic or integrated pest management techniques will also use boric acid to combat ants and termites.

Internal Pesticide

When ants or termites eat a solution with boric acid in it, the abrasive powder damages their digestive tract and kills them. It may also cause damage to the nervous system of insects, reports the National Pesticide Information Center. It does not happen immediately, however. Leave the boric acid solution out for the ants to eat and they will take it back to the colony to share. Then it will kill the entire colony over a few days. You can buy boric acid ant bait at most any grocery or home improvement retailer.

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Although boric acid is considered less toxic than many other chemical pesticides, there are still some safety concerns. When using boric acid pesticides, do not use it in areas where children or pets may get into it. Eaten in high doses, it has shown to cause liver, kidney, and endocrine issues in dogs, rats, mice and rabbits, reports the Environmental Protection Agency. Because it is abrasive, it most commonly can cause skin and eye irritation. Wear gloves, long sleeves and pants, and wear eye protection when using boric acid pesticide products.

How Do You Use Boric Acid to Kill Ants?

To kill ants, mix boric acid with a sweet substance and an oily substance, place it in the area near where ants pass and determine which solution attracts the ants. In most cases, the number of ants decreases within a few days.

    Mix the boric acid

Purchase boric acid in the pharmacy. Mix the powder with jelly diluted in water. Make a second mix of peanut butter and boric acid. Sweets attract some ants while fats attract others.

Place both solutions

Put a small amount of the bait inside a short section of soda straw to create a bait station. If you see lines of ants, place both types of bait stations in the line. Observe to see which station attracts them. Place 20 to 30 bait stations filled with the preferred bait near the areas ants tend to gather and allow them to feed on the bait.

Watch for improvement

The ants take a few grains of boric acid back to the colony with each trip. Eventually, a worker ant feeds the bait to the queen and kills her. Once the queen dies, the colony no longer produces more ants. Within a few days, the number of ants in the home should begin to decrease.

Ant Killer Tactics – How to Get Rid of Ants in the Garden

Ants. Love them or hate them, it is undeniable that they are amazing creatures. With large, complex societies, fungus-farming techniques and an empire which almost spans the entire globe, it is a blessing that they are so small and have not yet developed an overwhelming collective intelligence.

During the summer months, you may have noticed convoys of ants going to and fro in your garden. Some may have even made it into your home in search of sugar or anything else they can get their mandibles on. Like most garden pests, ants will generally do their own thing without bothering anyone else. In case they are becoming a nuisance, it is time to start asking how to get rid of ants in the garden.

What is a colony of ants?

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not to fear the result of a hundred battles.

This quote may be a little over-dramatic, but it does help to know a little about the pest you wish to remove.

A colony of ants sometimes referred to as an ant society, is made up of thousands upon thousands of individual ants under the leadership of one queen. Other than the queen, there are also workers, soldiers and drones. Most species of ant build massive underground nests. These structures are incredibly complex and contain nursery rooms, farming rooms, food storage areas and even tunnels to control the airflow inside the nest.

We usually only see a few entrance mounds and small piles of fine dirt. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Researchers in Brazil unearthed an abandoned ant nest, which covered an area of 500 sq ft and was measured to a depth of 26 ft. While nests of this size are uncommon, it does illustrate the fact that ant nests are much larger than we may initially think.

Ants and your garden

Some of the more ecologically-minded among you may be wondering if ants are beneficial to your garden or if they really cause damage to your plants.

Ants can be somewhat beneficial to your garden. Since they are predators, they hunt other insects that live in your lawn and can aid pollination while they are foraging. However, ants like to build nests around the root system of plants, which can stunt growth and leave plants more vulnerable to disease.

Quite a few species of ant also eat honeydew, which is excreted by aphids as they feast on plants. Ants have been known to protect aphids from other predators, such as ladybirds, to maintain a reliable food source. Increased aphid activity in your garden, especially when they have bodyguards, can be disastrous for plant life as they can advance unhindered through your garden, sucking out all of the tasty plant juice.

How to get rid of ants in the garden

Before morphing into Rambo and unleashing righteous fury upon the unsuspecting ants in your garden, please ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are they in an isolated area of my garden?
  • Are they a threat to me or to my family?
  • Are they a threat to my home?

There is no need to kill things just for the sake of killing them.

Now that the moralising is taken care of, let’s move on to turning you into the world’s greatest ant killer.

Natural methods

When it comes to ant infestations, it’s never about simply sporadically spraying their seemingly endless trails with an ant killer weapon of your choice. Na-ah, to eradicate the entire ant threat in your garden, you have to go straight for the source. The following methods have been proven to eliminate ants both outside and inside the ant nest:

  • Boiling water. The most widely known natural ant extermination method is using boiling water. Simply locate as many entrances to the nest as possible and pour boiling water inside. You may have to do this repeatedly until all of the ants are dead.
  • Dish washing liquid and oil. This method has quite a high success rate as the dish washing liquid and oil soak into the ant exoskeletons and suffocates them. All you need to do is mix half a teaspoon of liquid dish soap with one and a half teaspoons of cooking oil (olive oil and canola oil work best) with 1 quart of water (0.946 kilograms or 2.08 lbs or 33.38 ounces). Once the mixture is ready, pour some into a spray bottle to take care of ants outside the nest and then pour the rest directly into the nest.
  • Boric acid and sugar. This is possibly the most effective home remedy for getting rid of ants. Mix boric acid with sugar until it turns into a paste and then place small amounts of the paste around the entrances to the ant nest. Ants love sweet things and so they will be drawn to the paste, they will eat some and carry the rest back to the nest for the queen. Shortly after eating the sweet paste, the queen and other ants will begin to die due to the boric acid.
  • White vinegar. Pouring around 1 litre of white vinegar directly into the nest can work wonders. It is not harmful to the ground or your plants, but it will kill the ants on contact.
  • Nematodes. These microscopic worms are the natural nemesis of ants. The tiny worms will hunt and devour the ants whereas the ants will most likely search for a new nest as they cannot tolerate having their natural predator nearby.
  • Diatomaceous earth (DE). Diatomaceous earth (food-grade, mind that!) is effective against a variety of critters, both at home and in the garden. You’d better sprinkle the ants’ path or around the plants, you don’t want the ants to get to. DE works well if the soil is dry. The wetter the surface is, the more time it will take to do its magic.
  • Insect-repelling plants. Various plants, especially the ones that contain essential oils, give off a certain smell that puts off lots of unwanted insects, including plants.
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Most natural methods don’t work immediately. It’s because of what they are – natural, meaning, the active ingredients in them are not as lethal for ants as what professional poisons will be. Therefore, if you feel the times are direr, you can turn to the below commercial ant treatments.

Professional methods

  • Ant killer gel. Most garden centres sell an ant poison which comes in gel form. This works in the same way as boric acid and sugar. The ants are drawn to the sweet gel which is then carried into the nest for the queen to feast upon. Despite being a form of poison, the gel poses no threat to your garden or plants.
  • Ant killer poison. Powder poisons are best used against ants found indoors or near your home as they can affect plants and alter the soil due to their toxicity. If you choose to use powder poison, make sure to take some precautions beforehand, such as blocking off the poisoned area to keep pets and small children away. Spread it on a calm day as the wind may carry the poison to neighbouring gardens. Another point to keep in mind is that ants can slowly build up a resistance to the poison.
  • Professional extermination. If none of the above methods has worked and the ants have invaded your home, it may be time to consider hiring a professional to take care of the invasion.

So there we have it, your guide on how to get rid of ants in the garden. As you can see, there are many ways of killing the ants and decimating their nest, but we would urge you to seriously consider whether or not the ants are truly pests or just a mild nuisance before taking action. Otherwise, happy ant hunting!

Did we miss anything? Do you have any tips for getting rid of ants in the garden? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on social media!

The Most Effective Ways to Kill Ants Using Natural Ingredients

Ants rarely come into your house in ones and twos, but they can infest your home in their hundreds. Getting rid of ants with natural, homemade insecticides is fairly easy and effective. In fact, killing off ants with natural ingredients not only works quickly, but it helps to look after the environment and keep your family members and pets safe.

Natural home remedies to eradicate ant infestations generally use safe, natural ingredients that are toxic to ants but won’t harm family members and pets. For example, ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, cornmeal, and coffee grounds are food items that you probably already have at home, but are great natural ant killers. Other natural remedies use diatomaceous earth, boric acid, or essentials oils to help repel ants naturally and eliminate them at their source.

So, if you notice ants marching through your home, before reaching for a chemical pesticide, why not try using some of these natural ingredients to kill ants naturally.

How to Kill Ants Using Natural Ingredients

Let’s look at some of the best natural ingredients that you can use to effectively kill ants. Some of these home remedies help to repel ants and disrupt the chemical (pheromone) trail that they use to get to food sources. Other natural remedies are toxic to ants and help to kill them off for good.

Get rid of the whole ant colony

One of the first steps to getting rid of ants for good from your home is to find their colony or nest. This is where the queen resides, and destroying the source of the ant infestation will permanently eliminate ants from your home.

According to the University of Minnesota, different species of ants have various preferences where to build their nests. Some like to nest outside in soil and decaying wood. Others prefer to build colonies in houses behind baseboards, countertops, and moldings. Ants usually take their food back to their nest, so by carefully observing where they take your food is one of the best ways to find and then destroy the ant nest along with the queen. 1

Kill ants with food grade diatomaceous earth (DE)

Use food-grade diatomaceous earth to get rid of ants from your home and garden. DE is a naturally occurring mineral which is an effective pesticide against all kinds of insects, including ants, but is safe to use around humans and pets.

A study into the effectiveness of diatomaceous earth for insect control found that it is an effective and natural method for killing insects. 2

Diatomaceous earth works by drying the outer shell of ants, fleas, roaches, bedbugs, and other creepy crawlies, causing them to dehydrate and die. The ants also carry the diatomaceous earth back to their colony where it destroys the ants at their source.

To effectively exterminate any kind of ants that are in your kitchen and other areas of your home, sprinkle diatomaceous earth where you see them.

Diatomaceous earth is only effective in dry conditions. So, if you use diatomaceous earth to kill ants in the garden, always make sure that the ground is dry. You can safely sprinkle food grade diatomaceous earth in your home on carpets, tiled floors, and small cracks and crevices where ants are traveling or entering the building.

You need to be aware of these things when using diatomaceous earth as a natural pesticide:

  • Diatomaceous earth powder is very fine, so you should use a good vacuum cleaner to remove it from carpets and bedding.
  • Always use “food grade” diatomaceous earth for ant control and elimination.
  • When sprinkling diatomaceous earth powder on carpets, make sure there isn’t a draft or a household fan working because this will blow the powder onto other surfaces which can be difficult to clean.

Did you know that diatomaceous earth has more uses than just for killing bugs? Find out how to use DE for healthy skin and hair in my article about the many uses and benefits of diatomaceous earth.

Boric acid and honey ant trap

Boric acid is a natural ant killer which will help get rid of your ants quickly. You can make an effective ant trap by mixing boric acid and honey. Boric acid is a naturally occurring mineral which is toxic to ants and will destroy them fast when they ingest it. The sweetness of honey attracts ants to the deadly trap and they take the honey mixture back to the colony where the others feed on it and are poisoned.

Please be aware, that boric acid is toxic to humans and pets, and should be kept out of reach. Also, make sure and place the traps where pets or children don’t have access to them.

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To kill off ants in the house, especially sugar ants and flying ants, make a thick paste with boric acid and honey. Mix 2 tbsp. honey and 2 tbsp. boric acid in a small bowl. Smear some of the natural ant bait on a piece of cardboard and leave in strategic places around your home where you see the ants. Replace the traps regularly until you no longer are pestered by ants in your home.

Instead of honey, you could use sugar to attract the ants to get rid of them. Mix 3 parts of sugar and 1 part boric acid together. Place this in the path of the ants (but in places where pets and children can’t reach) to help quickly rid your home of an ant infestation.

You can also use boric acid baits to kill German cockroaches.

Baking soda and sugar ant trap

Baking soda is another natural remedy which is toxic to ants but safe enough to use around the home. It is one of the many reasons to keep baking soda in your kitchen.

You should mix baking soda with sugar to help attract the ants to your trap. There is much anecdotal evidence for using baking soda to help kill off ants. Just like with boric acid, the ants take the baking soda back to the colony where they ingest it and die.

You can also sprinkle baking soda directly into ant nests to exterminate them at their source.

Vinegar to repel ants

Vinegar is one of the most effective natural ingredients to repel ants from your kitchen, bathroom, or other areas of your home. The powerful smell of vinegar helps to prevent most species of ants from invading your home and becoming a nuisance. You can also use vinegar to get rid of fruit flies and gnats from your kitchen.

Making your own vinegar ant spray is very easy. Just mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. First of all, spray the vinegar solution directly on the ants to kill them. Then use the spray on the ant pheromone trails along floors, countertops and other places where they travel.

To prevent ants getting into your home, use the vinegar spray around entry points where the ants enter from outside. The vinegar helps to disrupt the ants and prevents them from infesting areas in your home.

You need to repeat the process every few days because the vinegar dries and loses it pungency. Eventually, the ants will stop getting into your home.

Get rid of ants with soapy water

A soapy water spray is an effective way to get rid of flying ants, fire ants, carpenter ants, and most other ant species. In fact, it works so well as an insect repellent that you can also use it to repel cockroaches naturally. The soapy water sticks to the legs and wings of ants rendering them useless and it also washes away their chemical trail.

To use soapy water as a natural ant repellent, put a few drops of your regular dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle filled with warm water. Spray directly on the ants and along their trails to help get rid of ants for good from your house. Reapply every few days until you no longer have any ants in your home.

Lemon juice to keep ants away

Lemon juice is another effective home remedy to help resolve your ant problem. Lemon juice has many health benefits and its acidic properties also help to repel ants. Similar to using vinegar to get rid of ants, lemon juice helps to confuse the ants and destroy their trail.

Use lemon juice to get rid of sugar ants, flying ants, and other types of ants coming into your home by making your own homemade ant spray. Put equal amounts of lemon juice and water in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray the lemon ant solution on the ant trails to repel them and mess up their sense of tracking. The acid in lemon juice also kills ants naturally, so you can spray this directly onto the ants.

The benefits of using lemon juice for ant eradication is that lemon juice is also a non-toxic way to sterilize and disinfect surfaces in the kitchen. It will leave your kitchen smelling fresh and free from ants.

Coffee grounds to prevent ants

Use your old coffee grounds as a non-toxic way to naturally keep ants away and stop them entering your home. It’s not known exactly what makes coffee grounds so effective for reducing the number of ants in your home, but many say that they are effective natural ant repellents.

All you have to do to help get rid of ants naturally is to sprinkle used coffee grounds in areas around your home where you see ants traveling. You can also check the outside of your property where ants may be entering and put your old coffee grounds there.

Essential oils as natural insecticide

Many essential oils act as a natural insecticide to repel and eliminate all type of ants from your home.

Peppermint oil. Studies have shown that peppermint oil is an effective natural ant repellent. For example, the Malaria Journal found that peppermint oil is one of the most effective essential oils for repelling insects. 3

Cinnamon oil. The International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications found that cinnamon oil is effective at both repelling ants and terminating them. They concluded that cinnamon oil has “positive insecticidal and repellent activity on ants.” 4

To make your own natural insecticidal ant spray you need a spray bottle, water, some dish-washing liquid and essential oils. Fill a spray bottle with 3 parts water, one part dishwashing soap and 10-15 drops of peppermint oil or cinnamon oil. Spray the ant-killing remedy directly on the ants that are flying around your kitchen or traveling along floors or worktops. Repeat the process daily until the ants have completely gone.

If you are able to locate the ant nest, you can spray the natural anti-ant remedy onto the nest to get rid of them completely.

You can also try adding some drops of antibacterial tea tree oil, lavender oil, cedarwood essential oil, or citronella oil as an insect repellent to the ant spray. All of these essential oils have proven results in eliminating and repelling insects. 5, 6

How to Prevent an Ant Infestation in Your Home

Because ants are so tiny, it can be difficult to prevent all of them from entering into your home. One of the best ways of preventing an ant infestation is to destroy the nest and the queen along with it. However, you should always make sure that you have nothing in your home to attract any kind of ant.

Here are some practical ways to effectively prevent ants from getting into your home:
  • Keep all food items sealed and away from kitchen tables and worktops.
  • Sweet foods and drinks like honey, jam, and sodas attract ants and other insects, so make sure all sticky residue is cleaned from surfaces.
  • Carefully examine your house to seal up any cracks where ants may be entering the building.
  • Keep pet food in the refrigerator overnight to prevent ants being attracted to it during nighttime when they are most active.
  • Regularly clean work spaces with either vinegar or lemon juice to repel ants from those areas.

  • Tia Patrick says:

    My grandma used boric acid mixed with sugar like a paste at her vacation home in Jamaica for roaches. I used it for fleas in pure form by sprinkling it all over my carpet (leaving it overnight) when my cat would go on a prowl and create an infestation in my beach condo. Since COVID, I packed up my RV and toddler and we have been in seclusion on my dad’s ranch. I noticed (like you) that ants were getting into my baby’s cereal. Even with sealing EVERYTHING in the RV, I saw scouts everwhere and even crawling all over sealed food. I used your method and I am not making this up, they were GONE by the next day. Again, you are MY hero! So, if your wife isn’t happy, totally hit me up!

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