Baking Soda: Another Wonder Substance

uses of baking soda

A while back, I wrote a piece extolling the virtues of vinegar.  I want to focus some attention on another inexpensive multipurpose agent-  sodium bicarbonate.

Nearly everyone has a box or two of this humble stuff hanging around.  You probably have one in the pantry and maybe another in the fridge to keep it from developing strange smells.  I mentioned using it in the diaper pail between washings too.  Beyond cooking and diapers, baking soda has lots of great uses.  Here are some that may be new to you.

1.  Multipurpose Cleaner

Baking soda can be used to clean things all over the house.

  1. It boosts your detergent in the wash.
  2. It loosens burned food –  either use as a non-scratching scouring agent moistened on a dish scrubber or dissolve in hot water and allow to soak before scrubbing.
  3. Make a toothpaste out of it–  it is great for cleaning teeth and freshening breath, though it will be more pleasing to the palate with a drop of peppermint oil mixed in.
  4. Get the strong smell of onions, garlic, and other potent things off your hands by scrubbing them with some baking soda, soap, and warm water.
  5. Use it in place of scouring powder when cleaning sinks and tubs.

2.  Fire Extinguisher

Sodium bicarbonate gives off carbon dioxide when heated.  This helps to smother flames in some types of fires.  Be very careful not to get too close to the fire when applying it though.  Quite a bit may be needed.

3.  Add to your soak water when preparing dried beans

One old remedy for preventing gas when eating beans is to soak the beans in water that has baking soda dissolved in it.  This is said to pull out some of the gas causing components which you then drain off before cooking.

Also, some say it makes the soak time go faster, especially in hard water.

4.  Get rid of the gamey flavor of wild meats

I am not a big fan of venison or wild duck.  My husband is a good shot, though and we don’t waste meat.  To help to take some of the strong taste out, you can soak the meat (overnight at least, possibly with a change of liquid) in a solution of baking soda and water.

If you think about it, if food gets scarce, you may grateful for whatever the hunters can bring in.  To make it more palatable to the picky eaters, this trick may really help.

5.  General Purpose Deodorizer

Whether it is stinky gym shoes, wet dog smell, or your armpits, baking soda does a lot to help neutralize odors.  You can sprinkle it on as needed.  For personal deodorant, you may want to combine with cornstarch.  Be careful not to inhale it as that can be problematic for some people.

6.  Repel Crawling Insects

I have no personal experience with this one, though I will try it now that I know about it.  Some people claim that when sprinkled along baseboards and windowsills, it will deter ants and roaches.

7.  Replace Baking Powder

Not by itself, though.  There is an infamous story in our house about “someone” putting 3 tablespoons of baking soda in the pancake batter instead of 3 teaspoons of baking powder.  Those were some salty pancakes!

If you run out of baking powder, you can use some soda with either cream of tartar or vinegar to replace the leavening.

8.  Cure an Acidic Stomach

One of the easiest antacids to make is a spoonful of baking soda dissolved in a glass of water.

9.  Treat Bites, Stings, Sunburns, and Rashes

Some people make a paste of sodium bicarbonate and water and apply it to skin irritations and leave on until the next shower.

10.  Treat Canker Sores

Canker sores are those spots inside your mouth you may get after accidentally biting into your lip, jabbing yourself with a toothbrush, or just from stress.  Gargling with baking soda dissolved in warm water may help them clear up.

11.  Remove Cradle Cap

Some babies get very dry scaly scalps when they are young.  It is often called “cradle cap.”  Some mothers apply olive oil to the spots and then use baking soda to gently scrub the scales off.

12.  Take a Sponge Bath

Low on soap or water?  Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water and take a sponge bath.  It is considered to be gentle, so it may be a better option for those with sensitive skin.

13.  Clear the Drain

You will want to save your lye for making soap.  To clear a slow drain, try 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1/2 cup vinegar.  After letting it work for a while, flush with lots of hot water.

And here is the one that I find most interesting:

14.  Flu Preventative and Treatment.

An old theory of preventing and treating influenza is to create an alkaline environment in the body that is not conducive for the virus.  The treatment is to drink baking soda dissolved in water at least twice a day to raise the pH of the blood.  Since most microbes need a more acidic environment, they would not be able to live long or reproduce.  It is claimed that even if the treatment begins after symptoms of flu come on, the intensity and duration of the virus is greatly reduced.

Some Notes

Be forewarned that some people should use caution in ingesting a lot of baking soda because of the levels sodium and the possibility of depleting some vitamins and minerals.  This would be a short term treatment.

This fantastic agent is quite inexpensive, especially compared to buying remedies for each of the above problems individually.  It can be purchased in 5 pound bags in big box stores.  (Look near the pool supplies if you don’t find it with the baking items).

Once opened, a package has a relatively short life as leavening in baking, but you can rotate it for other purposes at that point.

So, what are your favorite uses for baking soda?  Please share in the comments section.

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18 Comments on “Baking Soda: Another Wonder Substance”

  1. Secret Creek Says:

    You can wash your hair with baking soda. It’s a very frugal alternative to shampoo. Some people rub some in dry and rinse, some dissolve a couple of spoonfuls into water and use to wash their hair. While it won’t be creamy, or make big suds–neither of those are what actually clean your hair. This is a good solution for people who are allergic to perfumes or want to avoid sodium laurel sulfate ( think that’s how to spell that). Using too much baking soda may leave your hair stiff, so if you don’t like the results keep changing it to more or less bsoda until you find what works for your hair type.


  2. Secret Creek Says:

    I raise “poor men’s cows”, or goats. I would never want to find myself without bicarb/baking soda if I had a goat that needed to regulate it’s rumen. You can just leave a handful of soda out “freechoice” and the goats will take what they need for balancing the rumen.


  3. Sunflower Says:

    a) cleaning special surfaces, tile and ceramics, aluminum.
    b) salt and baking soda mixed together in palm of hand with a little water – then mix with tooth brush, – then brush and rinse.
    c) refill the expensive room deorderants.
    d) sprinkle on cat urine on garage concrete floor.
    e) great alternative to alka-seltzer.
    f) keep a large bag in the corner of each room in the event of fire. Tape a object to open hard to open sacks of the Baking soda near by.


  4. millenniumfly Says:

    It is truly wonder stuff. I think you can even use it as a substitute for yeast if you have someting acidic to mix with it.


  5. Krispkritter Says:

    Available at most big box stores in the pool department. I think the 12lb bags are about $6-8. A check with A&H said it’s identical to boxed versions. Some feed stores may be able to order in bulk such as with DE. 50lbs. of DE is about $20 locally at feed stores.


  6. Sunflower Says:

    1/4 cup baking soda
    1/4 cup arrowroot
    6-8 tablespoon -oil of essence
    (note coconut oil for more comfort).

    This is a new recipe to me. I have not tried it yet.


  7. Laura Says:

    Thanks for all these comments.

    Sunflower, I was planning an antiperspirant/deodorant alternative- you read my mind. I haven’t seen a recipe including arrowroot yet. I appreciate that. I’m going to do a bit more research and then I’ll report back after I’ve tried some more things.



  8. Lorette Patchen Says:

    cradle cap can be treated also with topical niacinamide since it reduces inflammatory response and also increases skin healing.’

    View the most up to date content at our web blog
    <a href="


  9. Devon Says:

    It can also be used to deactivate some acids like battery acid.



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