Healthy uses of baking soda

You probably have a small cardboard box of baking soda in your closet or refrigerator — maybe both. If you’re an avid baker, you know you need it if you want fluffy, light cakes, bread, cookies or muffins. The box you keep in the fridge is there to absorb odors, but how does it work?

Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogencarbonate. French chemist Nicolas Leblanc developed an industrial process for turning salt into sodium carbonate or soda ash in 1791. In the early 1800s, fishermen used sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate (collectively called saleratus) to keep fish fresh.

In 1846, American bakers and brothers-in-law Austin Church and John Dwight built the first factory in the United States that made baking soda from sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide. Church’s son James joined the company, then called Church & Co., and it was James who created the Arm & Hammer logo and brand name. Fun fact: the arm is that of Vulcan, the mythological Roman god of fire.

Baking soda has long been marketed as a multipurpose substance, ideal for household chores and for alleviating ailments of all kinds. Its superpower is that because it is an alkaline, when mixed with an acid it changes the pH level. What is pH? It stands for “Hydrogen Power”. Measured numerically on a scale of 0 to 14, pH levels between 0 and 5 are acidic, those between 5 and 7 are neutral. Greater than 8 means a substance is alkaline. Alkaline substances absorb acid. Baking soda, the star of today’s story, has a pH of around 8.3.

What are the uses of baking soda?

Add it to your oral hygiene routine. Brushing your teeth with toothpaste containing baking soda can counteract tooth decay and help keep your mouth and gums healthy. It works by increasing the pH of saliva, which inhibits bacterial growth. You can easily make your own baking soda mouthwash. Simply add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to half a glass (about four ounces) of warm water, then stir and spit as you would store-bought mouthwash. To properly scrub your teeth, make a paste of baking soda and water, dip your brush in it, and hit the town. It’s a great way to brighten your smile every week or so, but it shouldn’t replace daily brushing with fluoride-containing toothpaste.

Soothe an insect bite or sting. Make a paste of one part baking soda and three parts water. Apply to insect bites, stings, rashes or even poison ivy and it will soothe any itching or burning and relieve any redness.

Calm an upset stomach. Too much acid is often the culprit when indigestion strikes. Calm down by drinking a glass of water mixed with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Caution: Wait two hours after taking any medication before ingesting baking soda. A side effect of low stomach acid can be a slowed rate of absorption or changes in effectiveness for certain medications. Also talk to your pediatrician before giving it to anyone under the age of six.

wash your face. Some proponents mix baking soda with honey to form a paste, others just go with baking soda and water. Anyway, has this to say about the practice: baking soda, or baking soda, is a mild abrasive, making it a great exfoliator for your skin. Baking soda can help remove oils when used in a face wash and can be a beneficial part of your overall skin care routine. After using baking soda in a face wash, be sure to follow up with a moisturizer to add hydration to your skin.

Natural deodorant. Dab some plain baking soda on your armpits or mix it with a little coconut oil or shea butter and smooth it out. The premise is this: human sweat itself does not stink. It only gets great after the bacteria in your armpits start breaking it down into acidic waste, which brings a distinct aroma. By decreasing the acidity, baking soda eliminates that sweat smell. It’s not as effective as store-bought deodorants, but its proponents swear by it.

May slow kidney disease. Some studies suggest that chronic kidney disease, aka the slow loss of kidney function, can be slowed by taking baking soda supplements. People with kidney problems should consult a doctor before embarking on a supplement regimen.

Helping Chemotherapy Work. Research has shown that baking soda may help certain cancer treatments work more effectively. Some types of chemotherapy require alkaline conditions to work. Others actually become toxic in an acidic environment. Some doctors recommend using a supplement form of baking soda for these reasons. Another problem faced by many cancer patients is changes in the mouth and throat. Rinsing three times a day with a mixture of ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup warm water can really help. Be sure to follow the baking soda rinse with a trickle of plain water.

Around the house, baking soda can help you keep things clean without commercial products or harsh chemicals:

Clean your sink. Baking soda is a mild abrasive, so it will scrub without scratching. Pro Tip: Mix a scoop of baking soda with 20 drops of your favorite essential oil and a bit of dish soap before scrubbing. Another method is to sprinkle the cut half of a lemon with baking soda and rub with the lemon. Follow that with a vinegar rinse.

Removing pesticides from fruits and vegetabless. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that soaking fruits and vegetables in a clean sink filled with four teaspoons of baking soda and plenty of water is an effective way to remove pesticide residue. After five minutes of soaking, your products are ready to go.

Refreshing. An open box of baking soda in your refrigerator (or any smelly place in the house) will absorb odors. You can also freshen up towels that smell musty by adding half a cup of baking soda to your washing machine along with your regular detergent.

Clean silver jewelry. Cool Tip: Clean silver jewelry by soaking it in an aluminum bowl filled with a mixture of baking soda and hot water. Through an ion exchange process, the tarnish will be transferred to the silver water.

Deodorizes carpets and mattresses. Sprinkle a nice layer of baking soda on a smelly carpet, mattress, or pet bed and let it sit for a while. After 30 minutes, vacuum up the baking soda as well as the smell.

For more lifestyle and wellness content, visit INTEGRIS Health For you Blog.