The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com

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Baking Soda... From Frugal Cleaner to Thrifty Freshener to Beauty Aid, So Many Cheap, Easy, & Effective Uses

By Vicki McClure Davidson

 

In addition to its many uses in cooking, baking soda is a frugal, environmentally friendly cleaner, beauty and health aid, and home freshener
In addition to its many uses in cooking, baking soda is a frugal, environmentally friendly cleaner, beauty and health aid, and home freshener

 

Good old sodium bicarbonate — aka baking soda. It's been in use in some form or another since at least Egyptian times when natron, a mixture primarily of sodium carbonate decahydrate and sodium bicarbonate, was created as a cleansing agent much like current-day soap. A compound using sodium bicarbonate was concocted in the 1800s that was used extensively in the commercial fishing industry to prevent freshly-caught fish from spoiling.

Baking soda's countless, multiple uses today are astounding and go beyond using it as just a leavening agent in baking. Cat owners have known for ages that sprinkling some baking soda in a kitty litter box will minimize the box's nasty odor. But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, more uses. Before pricey, potentially toxic cleaning products came onto the market, harmless baking soda was used in millions of homes and businesses around the world to clean, disinfect, sooth, scour, and even put out fires. Its first use in America was during colonial times.

Baking soda is cheap, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and abundant. It even comes in a small cardboard box that breaks down quickly in a landfill. What's not to love?

Baking powder, on the other hand, consists of a combination of baking soda, cream of tartar, and a moisture absorber, such as cornstarch — it's already combined with an acid, and is not commonly used as a DIY cleaner. For best results for cleaning and freshening, be sure to use baking soda, not baking powder. In cooking, always use the correct one listed in the recipe (yeah, I've goofed on that more than once).

A few suggested baking soda uses from the Arm & Hammer website (pardon all the A & H self-promotion, and no, you don't have to use just their baking soda — any brand of baking soda will perform well):

 

More baking soda tips from Vicki Lansky's excellent 1995 book Baking Soda, Over 500 Fabulous, Fun and Frugal Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of:

 

More baking soda use ideas from Every Day Wisdom:

Eating spicy foods like chile peppers can upset one's stomach or cause heartburn. Baking soda can be used as a quick and effective antacid. | Photo credit: MS Office
Eating spicy foods like chile peppers can upset one's stomach or cause heartburn. Baking soda can be used as a quick and effective antacid. | Photo credit: MS Office

 

More tips from Mother Nature Network:

 

From eHow website:

 

From Discovery Health, Uses for Baking Soda - Health and Beauty:

 

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Sources:
Arm & Hammer, (www.armandhammer.com/solutions.aspx).
Discovery Health, "Uses for Baking Soda - Health and Beauty," (health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/hygiene-tips/uses-for-baking-soda-health-and-beauty-ga.htm).
eHow, "Baking Soda's Uses in Cooking," (www.ehow.com/info_8311750_baking-sodas-uses-cooking.html).
Every Day Wisdom, "Uses for Baking Soda," (http://www.everyday-wisdom.com/uses-for-baking-soda.html).
Lansky, Vicki L., Baking Soda, Over 500 Fabulous, Fun and Frugal Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of, Book Peddlers, Minnetonka, Minnesota, 1995.
Mother Nature Network, "The Never Ending Uses of Baking Soda,"(www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/stories/the-never-ending-uses-of-baking-soda).
Wikipedia.org, "Baking Soda," (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baking_soda).