For such an inexpensive and common household staple, baking soda has a surprisingly extensive and unusual list of uses. I'd like to share my 10 favorite ones with you here.
What is Baking Soda & Why is It So Good At Stuff?
Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate, a processed natural salt that was originally made as a leavening agent for baking, but has since been adopted for a wide range of home uses.
Here are some of it's many useful characteristics:
- a mildly basic (alkaline) buffer
- a gentle abrasive (non-scratching)
- odor neutralizer
- reacts with dirt and grease to form a cleanser
And your body is no stranger to sodium bicarbonate; the bicarbonate ion occurs naturally in our blood to help maintain acid/alkaline balance, it transports carbon dioxide from body tissue to the lungs to be expelled, and it's also in our saliva as an acid reducer - a pretty amazing substance don't you agree*?!
*For a thorough break down of the history and science of baking soda, read Peter A. Ciullo's book, 'Baking Soda Bonanza'.
Ok, let's dive in and learn a few of the fun uses for the powdered form of this versatile stuff!
Check out my other natural home product instructables:
Step 1: Unusual Use #1: As an Antacid
Mix 1/2 tsp of baking soda in 4oz of water and drink*.
I'll warn you, it doesn't taste very good, but it seriously works. Both my Grandpa and my Dad have been life long devotees of this cure for an upset tum tum.
*Baking Soda is a salt, so if you suffer from hypertension or are on a salt restricted diet, give this step a miss.
Step 2: Unusual Use #2: Swimmer's Hair Hero
Add 1 tbsp of baking soda to a small spray bottle and fill it with water. Pop this in your gym bag and after you've finished your laps in the pool, shake and spray the mix liberally on your wet hair before washing it. The soda will help neutralize the damaging effects of the chlorine. Boom.
Step 3: Unusual Use #3: New Clothes Detox
Remove the harmful chemical finishes on new clothing, which is important to do especially for babies, by adding 1/2 cup of baking soda in with your laundry detergent.
Step 4: Unusual Use #4: Get Rid of Unwanted Pests
For a pesticide-free / pet-friendly way to kill ants and roaches, mix 1 cup baking soda with 1 cup white sugar and sprinkle in infested areas. The pests ingest the mix and then when they drink water, the reaction in their stomach kills them. Super effective.
Step 5: Unusual Use #5: Camper's Commando
Avoid that musty / moldy smell that camping equipment can get and keep it smelling fresh, by sprinkling generous amounts of baking soda into your clean and dry cooler (or put in an open box), thermos, and even tent before storing them away. Staying outside has never smelled so good!
Step 6: Unusual Use #6: Waterless Dog Bath
Dry clean your dog! Company’s coming and Fido smells funky? Just sprinkle him/her with baking soda*, massage it in, and brush it out. It's completely non-toxic and safe for your furry friend.
*Putting some soda in an old spice container makes sprinkling super easy!
Step 7: Unusual Use #7: Lunch Box Deodorizer
To de-stink any un-fresh smelling food container, add 3 tbsp of baking soda to the washed (yet still smelly) container and fill with hot water. Put the lid on, shake and then lift up a corner of the lid a teeny bit, which will prevent the container from being 'inflated' (or shattered) by the carbon dioxide that is created when baking soda is mixed with water. Let sit for 2-3 hours before washing again*. Presto!
*If the lid has also absorbed some food smell, after the container has sat right side up for the 2-3 hours, re-secure the lid and turn the container upside down, leaving it for another 2 hours before washing.
Step 8: Unusual Use #8: Musty Book Makeover
Remove the musty funk from an old book by dusting the pages with baking soda and letting it sit in an open bag for 3-4 days before shaking it out.
Step 9: Unusual Use #9: Kick Sweet Cravings
If you’re trying to avoid eating sweets, but are faced with a strong craving, rinse your mouth with 1 tsp of baking soda in 4 oz of warm water. Avoid swallowing by spitting it out instead. Your craving should disappear instantly.
Step 10: Unusual Use #10: Blow Up a Balloon
While this is not a practical way to decorate for your child’s birthday, it IS a great party trick.
First pre-inflate a small balloon to stretch it out. Then fill the deflated balloon with 2 tsp of baking soda using a small funnel. Put 4 tbsp of white vinegar in an empty plastic bottle.
Now for the magic: Place the end of the balloon over the opening of the bottle, tip the balloon up so that the baking soda falls into the bottle, holding the end of the balloon in place. Watch the balloon inflate!!
What are some of your cool and unusual uses for baking soda?