DIY Staple: Baking Soda

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall

Bicarbonate-ion-3D-ballsHarness the power of this alkaline salt.   Chemically known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda has been used for ages as a cleaning agent. In fact, the ancient Egyptians used this chemical, which is found naturally in mineral springs, as soap. Baking soda is able to buffer acids and neutralize pH to help clean and remove odors. When combined with water (H2O), sodium bicarbonate will release sodium, hydroxide and carbonic acid.

NaHCO3 + H2O  ->  Na + OH + H2CO3

These compounds breakdown further into water and carbon dioxide, which are the resulting fizzy mixture.

OH + H2CO3  ->  CO2 + H2O

Its uses are many, and is a definite staple for the “green” do-it-yourselfer!

Health

Sodium bicarbonate’s buffering ability makes it a great option for heartburn. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda into 1 cup of water to put out that digestive fire. However, because this reaction will release a great deal of “fizz” from the carbon dioxide, be weary that burping is normal. If plagued by a nasty sinus infection you can combine table salt, baking soda and water to create a homemade nasal irrigation solution perfect for a neti pot.

When mixed with water (3 parts baking soda and 1 part water) into a paste, baking soda is a great first aid tool used to treat burns, blisters, bug bites and scars and also acts as an antiseptic.

In many hospitals, sodium bicarbonate is used to treat hyperkalemia, or high potassium levels, which can lead to alkalosis.

Beauty

As mentioned earlier, baking soda was the first soap, but can also be used to make a dry or wet deodorant. Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 cup water and you have yourself a safe and effective shampoo. It is also a common ingredient in toothpastes. Sodium bicarbonate has proved to have better whitening power than more harsh ingredients and also toothpastes with baking soda remove plaque better than those without it.

You can make your own toothpaste with:

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
  • 1 drop of your flavor extract of choice
  • A few drops water

Again, its antiseptic properties also make it a great mouthwash, leaving your mouth clean and your teeth sparkling!

Home

Baking soda will also leave your house squeaky clean. Sodium bicarbonate can be an effective way of controlling fungus, and is a recognized biopesticide. Its neutralizing powers also help it to absorb odors caused by strong acids. Leave an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator at home or work to help keep the kitchen odor-free. It is also important to keep baking soda on hand near the stove as a quick way to extinguish small grease or electrical fires. If an extinguisher is not nearby when a fire breaks out, just sprinkle the powder on to the flames.

Baking soda also is a fantastic substitution for harsh cleaners. Combine ½ cup vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda and ½ gallon of water for a general-use cleaner perfect for kitchens and bathrooms, which is sure to leave your counters, showers and toilets germ-free.

For a green alternative to oven cleaners, sprinkle the oven with baking soda and then spray with water. Let it sit overnight, or for about 8 hours. Then, scrub the baking soda in stubborn areas and then vacuum and rinse.

 

Food

I have saved the more obvious uses for baking sodas for the end. Many people know that baking soda is a critical ingredient in baking due to its reaction with acidic compounds to help products rise. It also can be used in substitution for baking powder. In Asian cuisine, it is commonly used to tenderize tough cuts of meat and also is used in fried foods to make them tasty more crispy.

All in all, whether you are scrubbing down your bathroom or whipping up a batch of delicious muffins, baking soda is a must-have in any household!

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