Baking soda is useful for almost everything. Our grandparents used it for cooking and much more, but with the invention of newer technology and cleaning supplies, as well as new utensils for almost every aspect of our lives, the useful properties of baking soda have gotten lost in the fog. Rediscovering the practical and interesting uses for the always accessible baking soda, however, may be your saving grace the next time you need a quick fix.
Brushing with baking soda has been done for decades, and with good reason. The slightly grainy and abrasive quality of baking soda makes it great for scrubbing away stubborn plaque and stains. Baking soda is also a weak base, meaning it can react to acids and neutralize them. Since plaque is an acidic substance, baking soda neutralizes and gently removes it without harming the sensitive enamel in your teeth.
The alkaline qualities of baking soda are great in deodorants too. Sweat is mildly acidic, so baking soda neutralizes it. Mixing it with other natural substances like shea butter and essential oils can give you the perfect natural deodorant, especially if branded deodorants and their added ingredients irritate your underarms or if you have sensitive skin.
Baking soda has a pH above 7.0, making it a base. When it reacts to acids, which have a pH below 7.0, it neutralizes them and moves them closer to that neutral point. By balancing pH in water and acidic dirty laundry, baking soda helps give laundry a deeper clean. Mixing baking soda with water also gives it a slicker feel, meaning you don't have to use as much detergent for softer clothes.
If used immediately, baking soda can remove oil stains. As soon as you spill oil on a piece of clothing or fabric, immediately pat the excess oil off of the affected areas. Then, create a baking soda paste with water and apply it generously to the stain. Let it lie for at least one hour and then gently brush the dried paste off. Wash the fabric in cold water and let it air dry. A similar method can be used to remove oil stains from hard surfaces, such as concrete or stone.
If you have from oily, dry, or acne-prone skin, baking soda may be the solution for healthier skin. Mix it with water to create a paste, then use an exfoliating brush or your fingers to rub it in gently. It will balance the acidity of your skin and help fight infections such as pimples. It can also be used to scrub heels, softening even the most callous of feet. Mixing it with water and tea tree oil or lemon can help lighten scars.
Mix baking soda with lemon or vinegar to lift dirt and grime off hard, grimy surfaces such as sinks, showers, and tiles. Expect a small fizzling reaction as the acid reacts to the base, and then use an abrasive sponge or a towel to scrub the area affected. Many people prefer lemon to vinegar because of the more pleasant smell, but both will work equally well.
Carpets can collect dirt and grime over time, and even vacuums can be ineffective on lifting odors. Before you turn to a wet vacuum, try sprinkling a mixture of baking soda and an essential oil like tea tree on the carpet. Next, vacuum up the area lightly. The disinfectant properties of tea tree oil and the absorbency of baking soda will help rid your rugs of any dampness and kill bacteria.
The sodium bicarbonate will absorb leftover moisture in clothes, so make sure to sprinkle some onto your clothes before storing them away. Moisture in a dark place may cause mold to grow, especially in shoes and boots, so make sure to add some baking soda to these as well. It'll also help cut down on odors.
Many cleaners can be harmful for human consumption, and residue from these can remain on fruits and vegetables even after rinsing. Baking soda can clean dirt off of foods without leaving behind any trace of chemicals. Scrub the veggies with dry baking soda without adding water, then rinse with cold water until all traces are gone.
Electrical fires and grease fires are notoriously dangerous, partly because of their prevalence and partly because of how difficult it is to put them out. Water cannot be used on electric fires because it conducts electricity and you risk an explosion. And grease fires cannot be put out with water because of their chemical compositions and the heat of grease fires. Baking soda, however, can out both of these out without risk of escalating the danger. When sodium bicarbonate is heated, it becomes sodium carbonate. It then releases water and carbon dioxide, which work together to put out the fire. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air and doesn't catch fire, so it stifles the oxygen flow to the flames while the water cools it. Because it is a common household ingredient, it's great in a bind.