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Baking Soda

Like apple cider vinegar and coconut oil, baking is soda is a must-have item because it frequently makes its way into DIY beauty, health, and cleaning. In fact, it is probably the most important item that one can have, not only for its incredible versatility, but also because it costs pennies compared to all the synthetic products we have been taught to rely upon.

But before I get into the many benefits of baking soda for both health and household use, I think it necessary to clarify a misunderstanding:

Aluminum does not exist in baking SODA.

Baking POWDER, however, can have aluminum in it, so perhaps that is where it has gotten misconstrued. But in my opinion, a big reason is because, at one point, Bob's Red Mill® (a wonderful brand) stamped "Aluminum Free" on their baking soda.

I can understand how someone's logic would conclude that if another brand did not also proclaim this, that it probably contains aluminum. But nope. It's ALL aluminum-free. Lovely sodium bicarbonate.

There is a difference in how the baking soda is obtained-- either from the earth, or by a man-made chemical reaction. Essentially the same stuff, but a brand like Bob's Red Mill® is mined from a basin in Colorado, whereas Arm & Hammer is produced on their premises.

If your interest is peaked and you want to learn how sodium bicarbonate is synthetically made, this is one of many available articles that can be found on the Google Machine:
http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Baking-Soda.html

It's entirely up to you to decide which you would like to use. Personally, I use Bob's Red Mill® for anything that goes into my body, and I use Arm & Hammer for topical and/or household use.

Capeesh? Let's all celebrate the many things that baking soda can do!

Below is a list of things I have compiled from various blogs, the Arm & Hammer website, and my own use. Some overall examples in which baking soda is effective:

  • cleaning surfaces,
  • absorbing odor,
  • counteracting acid/pH balancing (in food, body, and even pools), and
  • an inhibitor to fungal growth.

Fun facts:
* in 1986, the interior of The Statue of Liberty was cleaned with baking soda!
* Arm & Hammer has been making their boxes from recycled paperboard since 1907; way ahead of the game!
* December 30th is "National Bicarbonate of Soda Day."
* The paint used for Egyptian hieroglyphics was derived from natron, which is partly composed of sodium bicarbonate.




DEODORIZING

For fabrics/carpet, you may want to do a "patch test" to ensure discoloration does not occur.

- Wastebasket/Recycling bins: sprinkle baking soda into the wastebasket, and continue to add more as it fills with more trash.

- Diaper pails: liberally sprinkle over disposed diapers in the pail.

- Baby bottles: fill bottles with warm water and add 1 tsp of baking soda. Shake, rinse and clean as usual. You can also soak bottles and nipples overnight in a solution of 4 Tbsp. of baking soda to 1 quart of warm water. Rinse and clean as usual, after the soak.

- Drains/Garbage disposals: slowly pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, while simultaneously running warm tap water.

- Refrigerator: keep a small box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors and keep food fresh for longer (change out every month and get double usage by pouring it down the drains and septic).

- Dishwasher: sprinkle a 1/2 cup of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher to absorb the food odors.

- Ashtrays: sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of ashtrays to absorb odors and make for easy cleaning. Baking soda is also a fire extinguisher so it doubles as a means to put out cigarettes.

- Gym bags: Arm & Hammer sells a “spill proof” box that you can place in small spaces, like a gym bag.

- Vehicles: sprinkle baking soda on floors and seats, and vacuum after 15 minutes.

- Cat litter box: sprinkle baking soda over the entire bottom of the pan. Fill with cat litter, and sprinkle a little more baking soda on top, after each scooping session.

- Shoes: sprinkle baking soda into shoes, in between wearings. It absorbs and neutralizes existing odor and moisture. Shake out remain baking soda before wearing again (or leave in there as baking soda can prevent athlete's foot).

- Hampers: sprinkle baking soda into the bottom of the hamper, and even on top of the dirty clothes, to keep odors at bay, until it is time for washing.

- Toaster oven: sprinkle a teaspoon of baking soda on the bottom of your toaster oven to cancel the burnt smell caused by crumbs.



CLEANING

For fabrics/carpet, you may want to do a "patch test" to ensure discoloration does not occur.

- General: countertops, surfaces, furniture, sports equipment, baby equipment & toys, etc.: sprinkle with baking soda, wipe with a damp sponge, rinse with water, & towel dry.

- Unclog drains: pour in 1 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup hot vinegar to quickly unclog a drain. Use only on metal pipes, and be sure and no commercial cleaner is present.
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Bathrooms

- Septic care: 1 cup of baking soda down the drains keeps the septic lines free-flowing and in a good pH.

- Shower: rid soap scum and deodorize by making a paste of baking soda and water to scrub shower stalls/curtains.

- Toilet: pour 1 cup baking soda into toilet and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, scrub with a bowl brush.

- see DEODORIZING for drains.
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Laundry

- General: add 1/2 cup baking soda to your wash in the beginning (in addition to the usual amount of detergent), and another 1/2 cup at the start of the rinse cycle. This will soften the water and result in bright, long-lasting clothing.

- Deodorize musty towels: wash item with hot water, add 1/2 cup baking soda to the rinse cycle, and dry on high heat.

- Cloth diapers: pre-wash by dissolving 1/2 cup of baking soda into 2 quarts of warm water. Soak diaper(s) thoroughly before going through the wash, for a better clean.

- Light stains: 6 Tbsp of baking soda with 1/3 cup of warm water will make a paste that can be used for treating stains.
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Floors

- Hard surface: mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with warm water for a mop solution. Rinse with clean water, then towel or air-dry.

- Carpet: liberally sprinkle baking soda all over carpet, and let sit for several hours, or overnight, to absorb odors and attach to dirt. Vacuum up all the baking soda. Bonus that it will also deodorize the vacuum cleaner.
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Kitchen

- Refrigerator: unplug fridge and remove all shelves. Wipe down the inside of the fridge and all shelves with a baking soda and warm water mixture. Rinse and towel dry or air dry.

- Oven: sprinkle baking soda over the bottom surface of your oven. Spray with a water bottle to dampen the baking soda. Let this mixture sit over night and then scrub in the morning. Rinse thoroughly.

- Microwave: sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge to wipe down the microwave and then rinse clean. You can also keep a box of baking soda in the microwave between uses, to absorb food odors.

- Coffee maker: mix 1/4 cup baking soda with a quart of water and run it through the coffee maker. Also see FOOD for adding it to the actual brew of coffee.

- Dishwasher plates: add 2 Tbsp to your dishwasher load to cut through grease.

- Pots/Pans: Use baking soda with apple cider vinegar and/or lemon to cut through heavily soiled posts and pans.

- Stained coffee mugs/teapots: wash items in 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 quart of warm water. For tough stains, soak overnight in the mixture plus dish detergent.

- Silver polish: form a paste from 3 parts baking soda to one part water, and rub onto silver with a clean cloth. Rinse and dry.

- Cutting boards: sprinkle the cutting board with baking soda, scrub, and rinse.

- Plastic containers: sprinkle baking soda onto a damp sponge to clean and remove odors. Or, create a soak from 4 Tbsp baking soda and a quart of warm water.

- Sponges: soak stinky sponges in 4 Tbsp baking soda and a quart of warm water.

- see DEODORIZING for drains.
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Garage:

- Vehicle: a mixture of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart of warm water will safely clean chrome, vinyl, windows, floor mats, and lights.

- Grease: sprinkle baking soda on the spot and scrub with a wet brush.

- Batteries: Disconnect batteries first. Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, apply with a damp cloth to scrub corrosion from the battery terminal. It neutralizes battery acid corrosion on cars, mowers, etc. because its a mild alkali.

- Windshield: put a handful of baking soda on a damp cloth and wipe your windshield to repel rain.

- RV water tank: flush 1 cup of baking soda dissolved in 1 gallon warm water. (Drain, rinse, and flush the tank before refilling.)
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Outside

- Grills: sprinkle baking soda on a damp brush and scrub the grill. Extra dirty grills may require a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, and surged with a wire brush. Rinse throughly after either application.

- Pool maintenance: baking soda can be used to keep your pool clean and pH-balanced. Research different methods for this, according to your pool’s filtration system.

- Pool toys: mix 1/4 cup of baking soda with 1 quart of warm water to soak and/or clean pool toys and floats.

- Outdoor furniture: pour baking soda into its own small bowl. Take a wet sponge, dip it into the bowl, and wipe away dirt, leaves, bugs, etc. from surfaces of outdoor furniture. Rinse and towel or air dry.

- Storing furniture: sprinkle baking soda under the cushions of outdoor furniture before storing. In addition to making cleaning process easier when it comes time to take them out again, it also repels bugs.
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Pets

- Toys: soak for 15 minutes and wash in a mixture of 4 Tbsp baking soda to 1 quart of warm water. Throughly rinse off baking soda remnants.

- Bedding: sprinkle baking soda over pet’s bed, wait 15 minutes, then vacuum.

- Bathing/Fur: some articles suggest that you can clean your pets fur, teeth, and skin with baking soda. This does not sit well with me since animals cannot communicate if they are experiencing discomfort or irritation, or they can possibly ingest the baking soda. I obviously do not endorse this, and I urge you to use precaution if you come across other resources that say that this is safe.

- see DEODORIZING for cat litter boxes.

- see FLOORS for pet odors in carpet.



HYGIENE

- Shampoo: either add a little bit to your existing shampoo, or use alone to cleanse the scalp from impurities and product build-up.

- Dry shampoo: sprinkle a couple pinches under the bulk of your hair and tousle to distribute. Too much can be noticeable, especially on darker hair, so emphasis on "pinch."

- Dandruff fighter: skip the shampoo and massage your wet scalp with baking soda.

- Soak: for feet, mix 3 Tbsp of baking soda and warm water into into a small tub or foot spa. For full-body bath, mix 1/2 cup into a tub of warm water. A bath soak is also relieving for skin irritants.

- Cleanser: for face and hands, mix 3 parts baking soda to one part water, to form a paste. For face, gently apply with circular motions and avoid eye area. For hands, you can either apply directly or mix with liquid hand soap. For both, rinse thoroughly and apply moisturizer. I have also used this as a full-body cleanser, and while it was a nice scrub, I found it more time-consuming than a castile soap body wash.

- Deodorant: one ingredient in making DIY deodorant, or Arm & Hammer produces a baking soda deodorant. Some people attest to putting only baking soda directly onto their pits, but this sensitive area may become irritated for some, so I would recommend a small patch test before committing both underarms to this.

- Brushes/Combs: soaking combs and brushes in a solution of 1 tsp of baking soda in a small container of warm water, to remove the buildup of natural oils and product residue. Rinse and allow to dry.

- Razor burn soother: soothe your sensitive skin with a solution of 1 cup of water with 1 Tbsp. of baking soda. Allow the solution to dry on your skin (about 5 minutes), and then rinse with cool water. This formula can also be pre-shave or after-shave treatment on their face, but avoid the eye area.

- Nail scrub: dip a nail brush into a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Using circular motions, brush over nails and finger, to clean and prevent infections. Then apply nail polish as usual.

- Artificial tan remover: if you mess up by applying too much sunless tanner, you can exfoliate most of it away with a paste made from a combination of a few teaspoons of baking soda, along with fresh lemon juice.
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Oral Care

- Toothpaste: you can sprinkle baking soda directly onto a toothbrush, or use it as one ingredient with a homemade toothpaste. Arm & Hammer also sells baking-soda-based toothpastes.

- Mouthwash: 1 tsp. dissolved into a half glass of water, sip, swish for 30 seconds, spit, and rinse to neutralize odors. This will also relieve canker sores.

- Soak Oral Appliances: toothbrushes, dentures, mouthpieces, retainers can be soaked in a bowl of warm water with 2 tsp. of baking soda, to loosen food particles and neutralize odors.

- Whitening strips:



HEALTH

- Antacid: completely dissolve a precise 1/2 tsp. of baking soda to a 4 fl. oz. glass of water every 2 hours, or as directed by a physician. Be precautions and accurate with this; research instructions if they are not provided on the packaging. There can be negative side effects if too much is consumed, or if the baking soda is not completely dissolved.

- Diaper rash: put 2 Tbsp. of baking soda in your baby’s bathwater to help relieve diaper rash.

- Bug bites/bee stings/jellyfish stings: mix baking soda with a little water and apply the paste directly to the sore.

- Sunburn/windburn: saturate a washcloth with a solution of 4 Tbsp baking soda to 1 quart of [cold] water, and apply to the damaged area. You can also make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, and apply the paste to the damaged area. Even after the water evaporates, the remaining baking soda will provide relief. You can also do a baking soda bath soak (see HYGIENE).

- Decongestant: unblock stuffy nose by adding 1 tsp. of baking soda to your vaporizer.

- Splinter removal: add 1 Tbsp. of baking soda to a small glass of water, then soak the affected area twice a day. Many splinters will come out on their own after a couple of days using this treatment.

- see ORAL CARE for canker sore relief from mouthwash.

- see HYGIENE for skin irritant relief from a bath soak.



PLANTS/GARDEN

- Sustain flowers: keep cut flowers fresh longer, by adding 1 tsp. of baking soda to the water in the vase.

- Discourage weeds: sprinkle baking soda into the cracks on your driveway and walkways.

- Prevent rabbits: safely hinder rabbits from eating your garden by scattering baking soda around flowerbeds.

- Tomato sweetener: baking soda lowers the acidity in soil, so sweeten your tomatoes by sprinkling baking soda on the soil around (not on) your tomato plants.



FOOD

To ensure that baking soda is still fresh, fill 1 Tbsp. with vinegar, and add 1/4 tsp. of baking soda. If it bubbles, it's good.

Drinks:

- Coffee: add a couple pinches of baking soda to coffee grounds, before brewing to cancel out some acidity and bitterness.

- Iced tea: per gallon, use a pinch to cancel out some the bitterness and also clarify the cloudiness.

- Enhanced sports performance drink: research "soda doping," where endurance athletes (runners/swimmers) drink a baking soda mixture, or take baking soda capsules, to improve performance and speed. It seems that the baking soda offsets the [lactic] acidity produced by muscles. It can also be used as one ingredient in a recipe for a
Workout/Sports recovery drink, by adding 1/2 tsp. of baking soda to a 4 fl. oz. glass of water, along with lemon and optional natural sweetener (such as agave). Too much baking soda can give you a run to the bathroom, so precaution.
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Plants-foods:

- Produce scrub: fill a clean sink or basin with a quart of cold water, add a 4 Tbsp. of baking soda, and stir to dissolve. Immerse produce and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Produce with a tough outer layer (such as carrots) should be gently scrubbed. Thoroughly rinse produce after soak/scrub.

- Beans: while soaking beans, sprinkle 1 tsp. of baking soda in the water neutralize the gas and, thus, improve digestion.

- Tomato-acidity: reduce the acid content of your tomato-based recipes by adding a pinch of baking soda.
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Animal-foods:

- Fluffy omelets: create more fluff in your omelet by adding 1/8 tsp. of baking soda for every three eggs.

- Clean chicken: when boiling a chicken, add 1 tsp. of baking soda to the water. The feathers will remove easier, and the flesh will be clean and white.

- Wild game: remove the wilderness taste from wild game by soaking/refrigerating it overnight (2 days for larger cuts like ribs) in a non-metal container, immersed in a mixture of 1 Tbsp. of baking soda per quart of cold water (for every 2-3 lbs.).

- Fish: remove an overly fishy taste by soaking/refrigerating raw fish for 8 hours in a dissolved solution of 1 Tbsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of baking soda to 1 gallon of cold water.
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Other:

- Sweet-deterrent: counteract the craving for sweets by rinsing your mouth with 1 tsp. of baking soda that is dissolved in a glass of warm water (spit out; don't swallow).



MISC.

- Fire extinguisher: put out a grease fire by generously scattering baking soda over it to extinguish the flames.

- Melt ice: scatter baking soda on icy sidewalks―it’s not as corrosive as salt

- Bug repellent: mix equal parts baking soda and salt, then sprinkle the mixture wherever you see ants entering your home.

Rubber gloves: sprinkle baking soda inside your rubber gloves to keep them dry and odor-free. As a bonus, they'll slip on more easily.

Stuffed toys: sprinkle baking soda on stuffed toys, let it sit for 15 minutes, and brush off.

Activities for kids: see Arm & Hammer’s website about fun projects and safe playthings: http://www.armandhammer.com/solutions.aspx?SearchGroupId=0c7ac96b-c457-454b-a2bd-b9c18ee265cc

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