The old timers figured out quite a few good things. This is a bit of my tangent on self-sufficiency, but this tangent is more realistic.
Borax is as old as history. Our first encounter with it as a family was when we lived in Madison, WI. We had a problem with a weed called Creeping Charlie. When I asked my old neighbor why his yard didn't have any he told me to wet the lawn down and sprinkle Borax lightly on the Creeping Charlie. Wait a few weeks and repeat if needed. Our Creeping Charlie was gone with half a box.
I liked the stuff.
I remembered in High-School Chemistry that we made a glass bead of Borax to test for different elements. That was really cool at the time. And when we lived in North Mankato, MN, a friend (Andy B.) and I made a few beads with the help of our gas stove. (Andy likes swords too.)
I remembered having fun with this stuff.
Also, when we lived in Madison, a friend of ours had a science project day with the kids. One of the things she did with them is make Silly Putty with Borax.
I liked the stuff even more.
Our second year up here in Northwestern MN, we inherited 2 kittens. We weren't aware of any problems at the time. But after a few weeks we had fleas all through the house. I called exterminators for an estimate. This parsonage is big. And they wanted a lot, a LOT of money. Plus, we'd have to be out of the house for several days with an infant and small children.
I did some research. There were two old-time solutions, diatomaceous earth, or Borax. Borax was cheaper. And it got rid of the fleas within 3 days. I spread some out a week later in case any fleas hatched out. The total cost for the project $18. And I still have 2 boxes left over. It didn't get rid of the fleas only. Every bug was gone. Everything. No silverfish, no spiders, no centipedes or millipedes, nothing. I found later that Borax can eliminate cockroaches. If only I'd known that when we lived in Chicago.
In blacksmithing Borax is used as a flux between pieces of iron or steel when the smith wants to hammer weld the pieces together.
There are a lot of uses for Borax. The Wacky Uses website has many.
And you know that Tarro stuff that you buy to kill ants? It's Borax and Corn Syrup. That's all.