What Is Baking Soda?
Chemists might call it sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate. Baking soda is a white, crystalline powder. It is an alkaline chemical that reacts with acids and creates carbon dioxide.
Baking soda is a compound containing sodium, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. The formula for baking soda is NaHCO3. Nicolas Leblanc, a French chemist, was the first person to begin manufacturing sodium carbonate in his lab in 1791. Later, others built on Leblanc’s work to produce baking soda.
For hundreds of years, baking soda has been used by cooks to improve the texture of baked goods. However, the benefit of baking soda doesn’t end in the kitchen. There is a slew of other ways to use baking soda. In our search, we found 45 uses for baking soda that you may not have known.
Since the mid-1800s, when it was first mass-produced by John Dwight and Dr. Austin Church, baking soda has been a staple in nearly every home. It didn’t take long for people to discover that their kitchen box of baking soda could help with all sorts of medical conditions.
In the 1920s, Dr. Volney S. Cheney wrote “Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Medical Uses,” a book that outlined his experience using baking soda to treat common ailments. Following Dr. Cheney’s book, hundreds of other books, articles and studies were published on the medicinal uses for baking soda.
Here are some common medical uses for baking soda:
- Cold and flu: Dr. Cheney reported a high success rate using the following protocol for treating colds or flu with baking soda:
- Day 1: Mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in water. Drink this solution every two hours until you’ve consumed six doses.
- Day 2: Same as day one, except you take a total of four doses at two-hour intervals.
- Day 3: Mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water. Take this once in the morning and once in the evening. Then, use the same dosage each morning until the cold or flu symptoms are no longer present.
- Indigestion: About one or two teaspoons of baking soda, mixed in a glass of water will neutralize the acid in your stomach and relieve indigestion. Baking soda is a natural antacid.
- Poison ivy and bug bites: Make a paste of water and baking soda. Apply it directly to poison ivy or bug bites to soothe the skin and eliminate bacteria.
- Sunburn relief: Mix about a cup of baking soda into a lukewarm bath and soak in the solution to help relieve a sunburn. Allow your skin to air-dry afterward.
- Canker sores: Use a paste of baking soda and water. Apply it with a cotton swab to your canker sore. Let it sit on the sore for a few minutes, and then rinse. Do this once or twice a day until the canker sore is gone.
- Gout: The natural-minded folks at Earth Clinic recommend taking 1/3 teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a glass of water three times a day to help increase your pH levels and fight gout.
- Alkalize your body: Many health practitioners recommend alkalizing the body to discourage the growth of bacteria. One way to do that is to mix a bit of baking soda into a glass of water and drink it twice a day.
- Burn care: Minor burns can be treated with a paste of baking soda and water. Leave it on for about 20 minutes, and then rinse.
- Bee stings: The same paste you would use for a minor burn will also help soothe the site of a bee sting. Mix baking soda and water into a paste and apply it to the sting. Of course, you’ll need immediate medical attention if you are allergic to bees.
- Cradle cap: If baby’s scalp is irritated by cradle cap, you can use a paste of baking soda and water. Apply it to the scalp and let it sit for one minute before rinsing it out.
- Diaper rash: Mix a tablespoon of baking soda in one cup of water. Then, use a cloth or sponge to apply the solution to the affected area. Allow the skin to air-dry.
- Kidney stones: Do you suffer from painful kidney stones? Baking soda can break down the stones and help you pass them. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda into a glass of water and drink it a few times a day.
- Urinary tract infections: Drink a glass of water with a teaspoon of baking soda, on an empty stomach to help relieve a urinary tract infection.
The alkalinity and abrasive nature of baking soda help it to be an effective cleaner that dissolves dirt and grease. If you want to avoid harsh chemical cleaners in your home, baking soda is the perfect natural alternative.
- Laundry booster: Adding 1/2 cup of baking soda to your normal laundry detergent will help your colors to come out bright and your white clothes to stay white. Baking soda also helps to soften your clothing. So, if you use it, you may not need to add fabric softener.
- Dishwasher: Adding just 1/4 cup of baking soda to your dishwasher will help to clean stubborn greasy foodstuffs off of your dishes. Many people also recommend baking soda to clean your dishwasher.
- Tea kettle: Hard water buildup is a real problem for tea kettles. Use about two tablespoons of baking soda in 16 ounces of water. Bring it to a boil and let it sit in the kettle for about 20 minutes. Then, rinse and wipe out the kettle.
- Pots and pans: A paste of baking soda and water is excellent for cleaning and shining your pots and pans. Apply the paste. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then, wipe it down with a sponge or rag and rinse well.
- Carpets: To keep your carpets clean and fresh, sprinkle baking soda over your carpet or rug. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Then, vacuum the carpet. The baking soda will eliminate odors in your carpet and home.
- Baby clothes and cloth diapers: Baking soda is gentle enough to use with cloth diapers and baby clothes. It will help remove odors and stains. Add about a half cup of baking soda to your gentle laundry detergent.
- Shower curtains: You know that dingy black mold that tends to form in the folds of your vinyl shower curtain? You can eliminate it by wiping it with a damp sponge, dusted with baking soda. Alternately, you can spray the shower curtain with a solution of baking soda and water and wipe it down.
- Furniture: Soft, comfortable furniture can trap odors like nothing else. To freshen up your sofa, sprinkle the cushions with baking soda. Let it sit for several minutes. Then, vacuum it up with the vacuum cleaner’s brush attachment.
- Oven and stovetop: Katie Wells, from Wellness Mama, recommends baking soda and water for a simple and effective oven cleaner. She instructs her readers to spray down the oven with water so that it’s good and damp. Then, sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda all over the bottom and sides of the oven. Leave it for a couple of hours, but don’t turn on the oven. Then, wipe it down with a rag.
For the stovetop, you can use a similar method to get rid of splatters and grease. Spray down the top, sprinkle on the baking soda and watch a few episodes of your favorite reality TV show. When you’re done, wipe off the baking soda and all the grime that used to be stuck to your stovetop.
While baking soda is fantastic for medicinal uses and cleaning, where it shines is in its ability to neutralize odors quickly and effectively completely.
- Refrigerator: Boiled eggs and leftover tuna salad can certainly stink up your refrigerator. Pour about a half cup of baking soda into a small dish and put it on the shelf of your fridge, and close it up. The next time you open it, you’ll likely smell nothing at all.
- Cat litter box: Most veterinarians agree that baking soda is safe for cats. Sprinkle a bit of it onto your cat’s litter each time you scoop to keep the odor down.
- Locker: Lockers are particularly prone to bad odors. Fill a small, plastic container with a bit of baking soda and store it on the shelf, toward the back of the locker.
- Shoes: Sprinkle baking soda into your shoes after you remove them to eliminate odors and bacteria.
- Drawers and closets: Use a small plastic container with a lid. Fill it with baking soda and poke tiny holes in the lid. Store it in the back of your closet or in your clothing drawers to keep things smelling fresh.
- Trashcans: Pour about a quarter cup of baking soda right into the bottom of your trashcan before you insert the trash bag or can liner.
- Garbage disposal: To keep your disposal from smelling funky, pour a bit of baking soda into it once in a while.
- Mattress: Every time you change your sheets, sprinkle baking soda onto the mattress. This will keep things smelling fresh and prevent the growth of certain bacteria.
Baking soda is an excellent personal care product. It is inexpensive, effective and not a common allergen.
- Deodorant: You can make a simple, homemade deodorant with just baking soda and water. Add in essential oils and other ingredients if you want to get fancy.
- Mouthwash: Stir about 1/4 cup of baking soda into a cup of water. Rinse your mouth with it to freshen your breath and eliminate bacteria. Add a couple of drops of peppermint oil to the solution if you prefer a minty fresh flavor.
- Toothpaste: Baking soda makes an excellent toothpaste. A simple way to use it is to wet your brush, and then dip it into a small dish of baking soda. You can also make a paste with baking soda and water. If you want even better whitening, use baking soda and peroxide to brush.
- Acne: One excellent remedy for acne is to mix baking soda and honey into a paste and apply it to blemishes on the skin. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing.
- Foot bath: Mix a cup of baking soda into a gallon of warm water for a foot soak. The baking soda will freshen up your feet, eliminating odors and bacteria.
Baking soda is particularly useful around the house. Keep a box on hand in the garage for household chores.
- Extinguish small fires: Because carbon dioxide is released from baking soda when it is heated, it will extinguish small kitchen fires. Keep baking soda near the stove to put out unexpected flames.
- Weed killer: Forget the super toxic sprays as baking soda will help you keep your garden beautiful. Moisten the weeds with a bit of water, and then sprinkle baking soda over them. They should shrivel up and die within a few days.
- Car battery cleaner: If your car battery is corroded, you can clean it with a paste of baking soda and water. While your car is turned off and your battery is disconnected, apply the paste to the corroded area, making sure it doesn’t seep into the vents. Allow the paste to bubble a bit. Then, use a wet rag to wipe off the paste and the corrosion carefully.
- Unclog drains: If your drains are clogged, baking soda and white vinegar is an excellent solution to clear out your pipes. First, pour about a cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow that with two cups of white vinegar. Let it bubble for about five minutes. Then, pour boiling water down the drain. Do this once a month to keep your drains from becoming clogged again.
- Cockroach killer: Mix equal amounts of baking soda and white sugar. Moisten it with a little water and put a small amount on a flat surface where you’ve seen cockroaches. They will eat the mixture and die.
- Clean sports equipment: Wipe down sports gear with a damp sponge sprinkled with baking soda. You’ll keep it fresh, clean and odor-free.
In the 1800s, the invention of baking soda was an absolute game-changer in kitchens far and wide. To this day, baking soda is helpful in all sorts of food preparations. There is no suitable substitute for baking soda in recipes. It is one ingredient that is found in nearly every kitchen around the globe.
- Shrimp: For the best shrimp consistency, consider making a brine of salt and baking soda. Use one teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup baking soda per pound of shrimp. Toss the shrimp in this brine and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes before cooking. This practice will ensure a crisp texture and moist shrimp every time.
- Chili and tomato dishes: Balance the acidity of your chili and certain acidic sauces by adding just 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the dish.
- Fruit and vegetable wash: Use about three tablespoons of baking soda to a gallon of water. Submerse your produce in this mixture and allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then rinse. This will help to reduce the concentration of pesticides and bacteria on your fruits and vegetables.
- Baking: Last, but not least, baking soda is a wonderful leavening agent. As it combines with certain acidic ingredients in recipes, it gives off carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide makes cakes and muffins extra light and fluffy. Some people even put a bit of baking soda into their scrambled egg mixture to increase fluffiness.
Baking Soda Practical and Versatile
Baking soda is one of the least expensive and most useful items on your grocery store shelves. At less than a dollar a box, baking soda is an excellent product to have on hand for all sorts of applications.
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Gray, N. (2016). 5 surprising ways baking soda can improve your cooking. Retrieved from: https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/10/surprising-uses-for-baking-soda.html
Layne, D. (2018). Baking soda treatment for gout. Retrieved from: https://www.earthclinic.com/baking-soda-for-gout.html
Wells, K. (2018). The best way to clean an oven (+natural oven cleaner). Retrieved from: https://wellnessmama.com/211/natural-oven-cleaning/