10 Unusual Uses for Baking Soda

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Introduction: 10 Unusual Uses for Baking Soda

About: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design from Parsons School of Design in NYC. Since then I've done work for Mart...

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Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate, a processed natural salt that was originally made as a leavening agent for baking, but has since been adopted for a wide range of home uses.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:

  • non-toxic
  • inexpensive
  • a mildly basic (alkaline) buffer
  • a gentle abrasive (non-scratching)
  • effervescent
  • 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!

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Check out my other natural home product instructables:

Homemade Glass Cleaner
Homemade Dryer Sheet Replacement
Homemade Fabric Softener
Homemade Air Freshener

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!!

Because, science.

What are some of your cool and unusual uses for baking soda?

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    364 Discussions

    Thanks for making this instructable I think that it is really cool and you should enter it in the baking soda contest. I think that you could win.

    Step 4 has solved the mystery of what happened to the dinosaurs! ;)

    Drinking baking soda as antacid ,ahh! you must take care cuz basically all baking soda have aluminum so you must buy the ones sold on natural health food.

    2 replies

    Sodium bicarbonate has been used for centuries as an antacid - see Andrews Liver Salt. Unfortunately, it is a temporary measure that can mask a more serious underlying problem of excessive acid production.

    As for baking powder containing aluminium, you must have some seriously contaminated stuff. In the UK, Sodium Bicarbonate BP (Pharmacy grade) would be very pure. I do share your concerns about aluminium in the diet and have long since stopped using aluminium cooking utensiles. Unfortunately, aluminium hydroxide (Aludrox) is still used as an antacid.

    Some years ago, at a UK waterworks in Camelford, a delivery driver dumped aluminium sulphate into the wrong tank with catestrophic results. The acidic solution went into supply, stripped the copper from water pipes, peoples hair went green from the copper. Aluminium is linked to Alzheimer's disease, so I would not be best pleased.

    Sodium bicarbonate and a weak acid like citric or tartaric acid is used to raise bread. Kelloggs (Cornflakes) used to put cheap little plastic toys in the packets and one was a submarine - you put the bicarb/acid mix into a little hole, the sub would sink, the water seeped in, CO2 produced, and the sub would rise to the surface. Happy days

    Aluminium not linked to Alzheimers. It was probably a lab measurement mistake: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4131942

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    AF6YS

    11 months ago

    Thanks Paige, you are a natural for Instructables video's, loved it and very informative. You've got my vote for spokesperson of the month!

    Coincidentally, I am reading this in Natrona county, Wyoming. Natrona is another term for baking soda. This stuff is hauled out of the earth by the ton here.

    1 reply
    0
    user
    PhilS43

    Reply 1 year ago

    Soot is miles apart from charcoal. Soot is a sublimate of all the high boiling point tars and PCBs that condense on the cool parts of the chimney or stack. Admittedly, there will be some carbon molecules in there as well. Charcoal is almost pure carbon and is used as an absorbant like activated carbon, and used clinically to mop up overdosed toxins - soot on the other hand is more likely to give you a nasty cancer.

    Another use of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda as opposed to baking powder) is as a blasting medium in metal cleaning/repairing. The soda is blasted on painted metal at fairly high pressure where it explodes on the paint (it's no a spectacular show I'm afraid) and causes said paint to lose its hold on the metal. It can be used on all metals but is especially good for softer ones like aluminium. Old fashioned sand blasting (with sand) can leave aluminium pitted but baking soda does not.

    11 replies

    I have seen a "sandblaster" sold at Harbor Freight Tools specifically designed to use baking soda as an abrasive.

    It's so soft it's used even for cleaning plaque from teeth - after ultrasound has cleaned the big chunks, baking soda blasting is used to remove the tiniest deposits at the base of the teeth, where the gum begins.

    Arm and Hammer anybody ;) Did you know that people once used soot from the living room fireplace to clean their teeth? Horrible thought but I suppose they had to use something prior to the invention of toothpaste. I think I'd have stuck to breaking off a twig from a tree and splaying the ends out to use that, another tooth cleaning method from pre-Victorian times.

    You beat me to it. Soot and all the nasties it contains, was used to clean teeth when coal fires were popular- I seem to remember it used as a chest rub or a slug repellent. Arm and Hammer were just one of the companies using bicarbonate as a mild abrasive to clean teeth. Remember the round tins of tooth powder that were around before tooth paste? Clean your teeth and get hypertension at the same time.

    Even weirder/more gross stuff than soot was used for teeth cleaning. Ancient Romans appreciated pee from Portugal for cleaning teeth.

    The Portuguese had marketing skills that would rival Madison Avenue's obviously.

    Ah well the Romans were quite yucky to be fair :D I mean, a race of people that enjoyed absolute gluttony to the point where they really were physically sick. Pop into the vomitorium, chuck the lot and then return to the banquet table to start again..... A drop or two of Portugese pee is nothing :D It almost makes our fluoride ridden toothpaste acceptable :) Yes, that last bit is a joke....

    A vomitorium is an entrance/exit to an amphitheater, not a place to go puke up your meal.
    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/vomitorium
    The word comes from Latin vomere (to spew forth) but that refers to people, not food, as they were designed to facilitate egress for large groups of people.

    Really? In that case then the 'Horrible Histories' series of kids (history made interesting) books are telling lies. Unusual for them as they normally research their stuff very well...

    I'm not sure how Horrible Histories conducted their research (never heard of them before), but it wouldn't be the first time history aimed at children was either watered down to the point it was no longer accurate, out dated, or simply made up to catch their attention. But indeed, there really was no special Roman puking room. Check out the entry under Puke Collector here:

    https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=6jAFK3L4O0UC&oi=fnd&pg=PA54&dq=vomitorium&ots=QhGO7tnM2M&sig=HEcGrKTEzN_ZD4s25-gYYi3q88Y#v=onepage&q=vomitorium&f=false