10 Amazing Uses For Baking Soda
There are few household purchases as versatile as baking soda. It offers a wide range of uses and is one of those must-haves in every home. So which are the popular baking soda uses and what makes this powder so handy?
Sodium bicarbonate, the chemical name for baking soda, is a white powder salt symbolized as NaHCO3. It has a salty, alkaline taste and is most often used in the kitchen for baking and cleaning.
How is it different from baking powder?
It is often confused with baking powder. However, baking powder is actually baking soda combined with an acid. They look exactly the same and are both leavening agents useful in baking. However, they should not be substituted with each other in a recipe. While baking soda is alkaline and is activated by the acidic elements in batters, baking powder already has acid and is activated by contact with water.
To make it easier to remember which/when to use for baking, just remember that baking powder works on its own. Baking soda must be used together with an acidic leavening agent in a recipe.
Can it be substituted with washing soda?
The short answer is NO! At least not in the kitchen.
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda – NaHCO3) is made up of 1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, 1 carbon and 3 oxygen molecules. Sodium carbonate (washing soda – Na2CO3 ) is made up of 2 sodium, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules.
So simply put, the main difference between these two compounds is water and carbon dioxide.
While baking soda can be used in baking as well as other household uses… washing soda’s chemical makeup can only allow it to be used for washing, cleaning, and other household uses. Washing soda’s reaction with acid is quite dramatic and can elicit intense changes in texture and taste, which is why it should not be used for baking or cooking.
However, both are alkalis and can be used to get rid of bad odor, remove tough stains, and can be used as all-purpose cleaners.
What are the popular uses of baking soda?
Although there are literally hundreds of uses for this compound, here I will highlight my favorite uses:
1. Natural detox
4 cups of aluminum-free baking soda, combined with hot water in a tub makes for a great detox bath. Just soak in the mixture for about 45 minutes or until the water becomes cold. It works because hot water typically brings toxins up to the skin’s surface, and then when the water cools down, the toxins are then flushed into the water through the process of osmosis. This bath is most beneficial for those with sore throat, indigestion, sunburn and swollen glands.
2. Facial and body scrub
Water and baking soda paste can be used for facial and body exfoliation. Simply massage the paste onto your skin for about 20 seconds then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Be sure to be gentle as the paste can be a bit rough on your skin. It is recommended that you use this combination occasionally, say once a week or every two weeks.
3. Homemade toothpaste
We are all in love with anything that could potentially save us money while being all natural. This is why homemade toothpaste is a big hit. Lucky for you, it’s very simple to make and polishes those pearly whites clean. There are concerns that using it daily could damage your teeth, so it is advised that you use it once or twice a week at most. Alternatively, you could add a bit of baking soda to your homemade toothpaste every few weeks for a smooth finish for your teeth.
4. Keeping flowers fresh
Powdery mildew can make roses look dull and spoilt. However, a weekly spray made of seven tablespoons of baking soda, a bit of insecticidal soap and five gallons of water can be used to keep them looking garden-fresh. You can also water your flowers which thrive in alkaline soil, such as Geraniums, begonias, and hydrangeas, in a weak solution of water and baking soda.
This also works for sweetening tomatoes in the garden. Simply sprinkle a dash of baking soda on the soil to discourage pests and lower their acidity.
5. Scrubbing powder
You can make an easy soft scrub for cleaning your sinks, tubs and tiles. Make a paste of water and baking soda, apply onto the surface then wipe with a damp cloth after a few minutes. Alternatively, you could sprinkle baking soda onto the surface and then wipe everything off with a damp cloth. For a simple floor cleaner, add ½ cup of baking soda to a bucket of warm water and use it to mop the floor.
6. Oven cleaning
To effectively and affordably clean your oven, remove the oven racks, dust the bottom of the oven with baking soda, and then spray with water until you make a paste. Leave that on overnight and wipe off in the morning with a damp cloth. This ensures that cockroaches and ants that like dark dirty areas are kept at bay until you finish off the cleaning.
In case there are still bits of the paste left after wiping, spritz some vinegar on the paste. It will react with the baking soda and make it easier to remove. Meanwhile, clean the oven racks and leave to dry.
You can also use this method to clean greasy pans.
7. Natural Deodorant
Baking soda is a key ingredient in making homemade deodorant. Surprisingly, this deodorant often works better than most commercial deos in the market. Some people like to simply sprinkle a bit of the powder directly onto their underarms. However, for those who find it a bit harsh… you can mix coconut oil and essential oils to the baking powder, as well as arrowroot powder. This will dilute the solution and be much more applicable and less irritating. Make sure to you very little essential oil as they can often irritate the skin are large quantities.
Apply a small swipe of this mixture using your fingers, then wait for it to dry before dressing to avoid smearing your clothes. You can also use organic shea butter instead of coconut oil.
Commercial deodorants contain parabens which have been blamed for hormonal imbalances and damage to organs, as well as aluminum which has been linked to breast cancer and an increased chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease. That’s why many turn to making or buying their own natural deodorants.
My mother relies on a mixture of baking soda and water to relieve her heartburn. She drinks a mix of 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with 4-ounces of water every two hours. However, be advised that for medical uses of baking soda, you should consult your physician to get a proper diagnosis and treatment options. This treatment should not be given to children under five years. Also note you should avoid using this treatment continuously for long periods because of the high sodium content in the powder. Also, make sure the baking soda is completely dissolved in the water before drinking.
9. Diaper rash and itch reliever
Diaper rash can have your baby uncomfortable and squirmy, causing you anxiety and anguish. Thankfully, the ever-handy baking soda can bring relief to your little one. When you first notice the rash, keep the skin dry and make sure it is not in contact with any poo or urine. You might also want to leave diapers or nappies off the baby’s bum as often as possible to allow the rash to dry out.
If the diaper rash does not get better within a few days, add two table spoons of baking soda to your baby’s warm bath and soak them for ten minutes, three times a day.
You can also use baking soda paste to relieve stings and bug bites. Simply add water, make into a paste, and apply it on the bite. You can also rub the dry powder onto the area to relieve itching.
10. UTI treatment
This is by far my most favorite use for baking soda. If you have ever had the misfortune of experiencing a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) at least once in your life, you will attest to how painful some of the symptoms can be. The treatment is so not fun either. UTIs are 10 times more common in women than in men because of their physiological make up.
Pregnant women are even more likely to suffer from UTIs, even several times during the course of the pregnancy.
Mercifully, baking soda and water, the miracle mixture, can help relieve some of the symptoms of UTI such as pain and burning while urinating. 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 cup of cold water, thoroughly mixed, can alkalinize your urine and ease pain.
Please note that this should not be used as sole treatment for a UTI. Please consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
There are lots of other uses for baking soda, such as cleaning your toothbrush and combs, softening and soothing tired feet, freshening breathe and unclogging drains. Natural and frugal seems to be the way to go, saving you cash and keeping you healthy. Please share your favorite baking soda uses with us!