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   Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), commonly known as baking soda (not to be confused with sodium carbonate or washing soda, or baking powder, a mixture between baking soda and cream of tartar), is mostly looked upon as a cooking agent, but it has so many other uses! In cooking, it works as a leavening agent in replacement of yeast because exposure to heat and acids, such as its “best friend” vinegar, the powdery white substance produces gas, giving treats like pastries, bread, and pancakes their spongy texture. (Without leavening, doughs would result in giant crackers). The chemical properties of this substance, however, also make it a partial bio pesticide and disinfectant that is safe enough for human ingestion! Thus, baking soda is widely used in DIY cleaning products, ranging from kitchen and bathroom scrubbing to shampooing. Beyond that, baking soda has deodorizing capabilities, making it useful as an additive to laundry, garbage, and litter boxes. It can also be used to relieve symptoms such as acidosis and skin irritation, when paired with certain amounts of water. There are different ratios of powder to water or other ingredient, depending on the specific use you want, so I would suggest further research if a use interests you.

 

   The reason I researched baking soda uses was because I was looking for an eco-friendly cleaning product, that also happens to be frugal. Most cleaners contain chemicals that when washed down a sink can contaminate water and harm aquatic life. Residue can sometimes be absorbed or inhaled as well. For example, although I am unsure if it is a rumor or scientific fact, SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) can cause cancer in the long term. Many chemicals can also reach either human or animal skin and eventually trick the body into thinking the substance is a hormone. This is known as endocrine disruption. Another bad thing about cleaners is that they can contribute to superbugs resistant to antibiotics, as some brands contain antibiotics. I personally feel that antibiotics should be used for medicinal purposes only, like when a doctor prescribes them, so that they can continue to be used as treatment in the future.

 

  Although the EPA deems it “naturally occurring,” baking soda is not without environmental impact. It has a milder impact than most cleaners though. Some of the issues include its production, as it commercially comes from carbon dioxide treated and water dissolved trona or, which is a non-renewable resource extracted by strip mining. (So if everyone started demanding baking soda, it would be unsustainable.) The substance is biodegradable, but according to Canada's EPA equivalent, it's suspected to persist. In large quantities,it can be toxic. Most animals are safe around it unless it is in high doses (this can be toxic to humans too), but such doses aren't usually found in persistence. Some organisms that can be harmed include the water flea, blue gill, and diatom. Baking soda can be an endocrine disruptor, but again, in high doses (compared to that of other chemicals, which at trs pose risk at milligrams or smaller). It can safely flow down sinks to sewage, and unless tons of people start using it, this disposal won't harm aquatic life. In high concentration, baking soda can increase the salinity of water so that it's dangerous for freshwater life forms.

 

  Here is a list of baking soda uses. I recommend it, but the last thing I'd want is for it to become a trend because then the sustainability decreases. So use it if you like, or maybe only for certain purposes. Please research more on any you wish to use, as I'm not going to talk about the actual recipes or possible hazards. Most of the time, baking soda alone is not all that's used, but sometimes it is or sometimes other ingredients are unnecessary, but some people like to add them anyways. I'd suggest researching the environmental impact of any other substance you might decide to use with baking soda, to see if it's even worth it.

  • Leavening agent

  • Meat/vegetable tenderizer

  • Enhance crispness of fried foods

  • Reduces malabsorption of calcium

  • Kills cockroaches (gas bursts their organs)

  • Kills fungus (such as mold)

  • Sodablasting

  • Raising pool pH

  • Absorbs musty odors

  • Extinguishes small grease or electric fires (hazard)

  • Neutralizing acids (hazard)

  • Treats heartburn

  • Relieves poison ivy irritation

  • Helps remove splinters

  • Teeth whitening

  • Mouthwash

  • DIY deodorant (wet or dry)

  • Solution for nasal irritation

  • Treats blepharitis

  • Electrolyte replacement (hazard)

  • Laundry softener

  • Cleaning toilet

  • Stain removal on dishes

  • Shining silver

  • Cleaning floors/counters

  • Cleaning stoves and ovens

  • Cleaning refrigerators

  • Cleaning windows

  • Refreshens rugs and upholstery

  • DIY spa bath

  • Relieves bug bites

  • Relieves sores

  • Relieves sunburns

  • Unclogs drains

  • Fights dandruff

  • Salting snowy roads

  • Discouraging weed growth

  • Exfoliating skin

  • Deodorizes drain (hazard)

  • Deodorizes litter boxes

  • Deodorizes trash cans

  • DIY shampoo (wet or dry)

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