Most of us have, at any given time, at least one box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in our pantry just waiting to be used, and sure, you’ve probably used it a few times if you are the occasional baker. Or maybe you bake all the time and baking soda is a staple in your pantry that keeps getting used up. Whatever it may be, all of us are familiar with and have used baking soda. But what is baking soda? Is it only for consumption? Is it only edible? Can it be used for other purposes? What does it do? What can it do? Well, these are all the questions any curious kid would have. And as they say, you must never let the kid in you die, so here are some interesting and quirky facts, information tidbits, and uses of baking soda.
What is Baking Soda?
Scientifically known as Sodium Bicarbonate, Baking Soda is a very versatile chemical compound. Don’t worry; this won’t turn into a chemistry class! Going by the name of it alone, one can tell that baking soda is a type of salt that’s composed of sodium and bicarbonate ions. So, why know all this? Well, how different is cooking from chemistry anyway? Baking, in fact, is a classic example of a chemical experimenting. But, undoubtedly, baking soda is an indispensable addition to any kitchen counter or pantry. Taste wise, it’s salty but mostly alkaline and is an active component in everything baking. It works as a leavening or raising agent, and reacts with acidic components in the batters to create carbon dioxide, to help the batter expand and become light and gives the characteristic grainy structure that’s seen in everything from bread to cakes to fried goods.
Besides baking, baking soda is also used in a lot of eastern cuisines in order to tenderize the meat and make it softer. You probably already do this, but putting a baking soda packet in the fridge, helps absorb nasty odors, therefore, making your fridge smell a lot better and keep food fresher for longer.
What Makes It Magical?
As early as 1930’s, Baking Soda was declared as a certified medical agent. Meaning that it isn’t just your most important baking ingredient, it’s a lot more. Besides health, it’s also a great way to get all those over the tops spa treatments priced outrageously, at the convenience of your own home all free of cost. But if you don’t already know the health, beauty, cooking, and other miscellaneous uses of baking soda, here’s your guide to everything about it and how you can use it to make your life a whole lot easier. But the best part of it all is that it’s dirt cheap! Baking soda is one of the most affordable ingredients out there and with so many multi-faceted uses; it’s definitely worth the investment.
So, you’re already aware of the cooking uses of baking soda as a leavening agent but there too, it comes in two kinds; Single acting and Double acting. Single-acting soda makes carbon dioxide bubbles as soon as it’s mixed with anything acidic and is added right before the baking or cooking process takes place, whereas the Double-acting baking soda works in two parts. It releases a little amount of carbon dioxide when it’s added to the mixture, but increases the output a lot more once cooking starts. Depending on what you’re cooking/ baking, and how long it takes, you should pick one that works best.
Other Uses of Baking Soda:
Now, coming to the more interesting part! Here are a few uses of baking soda in your day to day life that you should definitely give a try out for. Since it’s a relatively safe mixture, there’s no serious damage that you might incur. At most, slight irritation and at least, the trick doesn’t work out, so these are all worth a try!
Starting with the obvious and most important of them all, the health benefits of baking soda are endless. But some of the most common uses (and slightly weird ones) include;
- Antacid: As the name suggests, Baking soda has antacid properties that relieve indigestion, help with diarrhea, acidity, heartburn, and a host of stomach ulcer problems. Its strong ability to reduce acid makes it a quick and effortless way to reduce blood and urine acidity and restoring the PH balance of the body. In this way, it also works as a great antidote to drug overdose or poisoning. It’s often taken directly by mouth, or just as tablets, and in some cases, even as an injection.
- Oral Health: It’s a very common ingredient in all oral health products such as toothpaste and mouthwashes. Its abrasive nature gives it the ability to remove plaque and buildup in and around the teeth and gums. However, it’s a strong agent and should always be taken in the minimum amount and very rarely, as overuse can wear down the healthy enamel covering the tooth.
- Dermatological Benefits: Some diseases such as Psoriasis can be counteracted with introducing baking soda as an external application. Usually, a paste is made with baking soda and water and applied topically over the irritation and burns to reduce inflammation, rashes, and discomfort. It can be used for allergies, burns, and insect bites as well and immediately counteracts the irritating agent providing both exfoliation and relief.
- Athletic Performance: It’s been recently proved that consuming sodium bicarbonate helps improve athletic performance in high-intensity and prolonged physical exposure such as cycling, spring, running, etc.
- Common Cold and Flu: mostly used as a nasal wash and cleanse, it helps clear out the mucus and at the same time reduce the redness and irritation that accompanies a common cold.
- Beauty and Well-Being:
Of course, it’s in our blood to go running to the kitchen for all our beauty needs, and baking soda is your next big savior. As with everything from the world of DIY, these might not work for everyone and may even cause irritation to others, due to sensitive skin or allergies. It’s always a good idea to opt for a patch test and should it not cause any irritation, you can continue with it. Here are a few ways in which baking soda can up your beauty level!
- No Poo Shampoo: This is one of the easiest and most fun ways to use baking soda. Its cleaning properties make it a suitable shampoo. It cuts right through the buildup of grease and oil on your scalp to give you a deep clean. You don’t even have to do anything! Simply add a small amount to your regular shampoo routine to help cut through the dirt, or if you’re feeling extra special, simply make a thick paste of baking soda and water and run on your scalp like you would a shampoo, and voila!
- Exfoliate: If your skin is both oily and acne-prone, baking soda can be a life saver. It’s an all-natural exfoliate. Simply make a paste with water and run in circles across your face, gently and slowly, being rigorous can damage your skin because of its abrasive nature.
- At-Home Spa: If you’re craving a long day at the spa, look no further than your own bathtub! Simply add baking soda with equal parts sea salt, and a few drops of essential oil and soak yourself in it for a deep-clean feeling.
- Skin-Friendly Deo: If you’ve kept it in shelves and drawers, you probably know that baking soda absorbs all bad odors and it does the same for your body. You can either soak your feet in a warm bath of baking soda or simply make a paste and apply it to your underarms to get rid of sweat stains and body odor.
- Nail and Cuticle: Just like it whitens your teeth, baking soda also whitens your nails and makes your cuticles stronger. It almost acts as skin-friendly bleach. Simply make a solution of baking soda and water, drop in a few drops of hydrogen peroxide if you have any, and soak your nails for about 3-5 minutes. Do it for a couple days or so, and you’ll have nails that are a sight for sore eyes.
Perhaps nothing is more interesting than the range of items in and around your house alone that baking soda can clean and disinfect. It seems almost unfair to use it as anything else but a cleaning agent; here are a few tricks you can use around the house to keep it squeaky clean and smelling fresh.
- Surface Scrub: It’s exactly what it says it is. Be it for cleaning tiles, or sinks, or tubs, simply make a paste, add in a drop of liquid dish soap for good measure and scrub. You’ll see the stains wear off right in front of you! You can use the same for microwaves, silver wares, cleaning stubborn food stains like tea or coffee, cleaning dried up pots, furniture, removing oil stains, and even for cleaning your car!
- Freshen them up: you can soak sponges in a strong baking soda solution for an hour or so, and then pop them in the microwave for a couple seconds to thoroughly disinfect them and get them clean again! Use the same technique on your shower curtains by scrubbing baking soda on them and then rinsing. Or if you’re too lazy for that, add half a cup baking soda to your detergent power and get fresher and brighter clothes!
- Breakthrough: If you have a clogged drain, nothing better than baking soda to break down all of the buildups. Simply put half a cup of baking soda down the drain while running lukewarm tap water, and let it sit. It will not only get rid of the odor but also any of the buildup that might be clogging the water.
- Carpets and Pets: If you have pets, you’ve probably given up any hope of having a clean carpet. But that’s okay! Sprinkle a hefty amount of baking soda on your carpet, or your pet’s bed, and even on your cat's litter! And let it sit for as long as possible. Then simply vacuum it up! You’ll have instantly cleaner and fresher carpets and beds for your pets!
These are some of the various uses of baking soda! You can diversify this to a host of other uses! Pop in your soft toys with some baking soda to get them fresher and cleaner and maybe even clean up your dryer sheets! Just remember to not use it past its expiry date! This is one product you probably don’t want to use after its best before date!