Monday, July 21, 2008

Baking Soda: Count the Ways

Hey there. A happy new week to everybody. For some reason, I have the urge to talk about baking soda today. This chemical compound has the official name of sodium bicarbonate with the formula NaHCO3. Chemistry is something I know very little about, I'm sorry to say, so what this formula means is something I can't tell you. But what I can tell you is that this compound can be found in this house in large quantities and is used by this family in immeasurable ways. As far as I know, it is safe to use, especially compared to many of the harsh products which are on the market today. And, very importantly, in keeping with the post I recently read by Susan of Penless Thoughts on frugality, it can save you money.

Some years ago, I made a purchase of a little book which was then priced at $6.95, published by The Book Peddlers. I think the one I have is the first edition, and I see that it's still on the market today, though the current edition pictured above has a different look than mine. This was one of the most valuable investments I've every made. The author, Vicki Lansky, not only has come up with over 500 uses for this favorite product, but the opening chapter is a helpful discussion of just what baking soda is, where it's found naturally, and how it works. Very interesting reading! You can find this book many places on the web and it's still an inexpensive purchase when you think about all the benefits you'll derive from it. This is a hearty recommendation of the book!

But this is also a hearty recommendation of baking soda in general. Most of us know about its odor-fighting qualities, but every time I turn around I think of another way to make use of it. We get the huge boxes at BJ's and we go through them in not too long a period of time! Here's a quick survey of a few of its uses around here, but as I said, we keep finding new benefits:

1. Cooking: Of course we all add some to various baking projects, but did you know you can put a little in certain veggies while cooking, to offset bitter taste or to control odors while cooking?

2. Kitchen: What would our garbage disposal be like if we didn't frequently sprinkle in a little of it to sit overnight? Mixing some with water is invaluable for wiping inside the microwave and fridge. Sprinkle it in a pan that has stubborn residue, add water and let it simmer a bit. Same with crock pot. It has worked for me time and again to make that hard stuff easier to come off.

3. Cleaning: Great mixed with water to clean toys that get grimy, rinsing afterward. We have a dog--sprinkling some on carpet before vacuuming helps prevent house from smelling too doggy. I just saw that giving him a "dry bath" with baking soda and a good brushing helps him to be a more pleasant to be around. I'll try that soon.

4. Hygiene: When I was little, we used baking soda to brush our teeth more than we used toothpaste. From what I understand, it's just as good for the teeth, if not better. Can be sprinkled on various areas of the body and in the bath water. I just read you can use it to clean your eyeglasses! I want to try that. Nice mouthwash, especially after eating onions or garlic. I need to get back to sprinkling it in my sneakers and hope to try it as a foot bath.

5. Home Remedy: They say you should check with your doctor first with any home remedy, but I've been using it as an antacid for years. Soaking in bathtub with water and baking soda helps certain types of infections, as well as chicken pox and poison ivy. Making a paste from it helps on insect bites (diluted vinegar best for wasp stings, they say).

6. Babies: Good soak for bottles and nipples. I hear that sprinkling some in warm water is good for cleaning baby bottoms to help prevent rash. (I forgot about this--forgot to tell Bev!) I'm sure many of you sprinkle some in bottom of diaper pail. The recommended book has lots of tips in baby care, btw.

7. Laundry: I always sprinkle some in my load of towels. Sometimes we rub a paste on the underarm area of shirts and tops. I hear if you wet a blood stain and rub it on, the stain will be drawn out. Got to get it early, I'm sure. Presoak clothes in a water and baking soda for a few hours to get out certain smells, such as cigarette smoke.

8. Arts and Crafts: In the old days, my favorite craft clay was made with baking soda as a principal ingredient; we would cut out shapes and bake it and paint it. Such fun: hope I can do some projects with my granddaughters when they get old enough. Of course, some play dough recipes call for baking soda. Also, remember that there's the classic "volcano" experiment with baking soda and vinegar. That's always fun.

I could go on and on, but I think it would be a good idea if I got back to DOING some household chores around here rather than talking about it. Have fun with your baking soda and if you have any tips to pass on to the rest of us--bring them on!


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~~Deby said...

What a great post....liked these ideas..keep them coming...

kris said...

I never knew there were so many uses for baking soda!
Thanks for visiting my blog, Maxine, and for all your encouraging comments. Have a great week! Praise God!

sparrow's song said...

Interesting topic and some great advice.

When I first started reading I thought about how we used to brush our teeth with baking soda, as kids, when the tooth paste ran out. And then you wrote about that very thing. Made me smile.

I tell you what, my baking soda was flat when I made this last batch of choc chips. My husband was sure to pick me up a new box because he loves his treats.

Been missing you! Sending hugs.

Maxine said...

Sparrow, I didn't think soda goes flat. You sure it wasn't the baking powder? Sometimes that goes flat, they say. I did see a tip in the book that said to put a teaspoon of baking powder in a cup of hot water and if it fizzles, it's okay. You can also use the baking soda and cream of tarter I think it was to make baking powder. But they said it won't keep, you need to use it right away.

Lori said...

Great post! Thanks for the money saving tips! I currently use Shaklee which being concentrated can save me a bundle, but it is nice to have Soda as a back up!!

A Note From Theresa said...

Getting caught up here.

I like the Andy Griffith Show also, and the clip you showed was really funny!

I knew that baking soda was good, for teeth and cooking and for a smelly fridge, but all the rest I did not know... the antacid is one I'll have to remember. Thanks for the tip.


Maxine, I love baking soda. It is a wonderful product. I can vouch personally for the use of it for teeth cleaning. It was all we used as a girl mixed with a little salt. I have very healthy teeth. I have been to dentist only twice in my life and have no cavities. I just recently went for the second time and had them cleaned. I went the first time to the dentist when I turned fifty years old. So yes, baking soda for the teeth certainly can do no harm. lol connie from texas

Penless Thoughts said...

Loved, loved, loved this post Maxine. I'm going to start doing some of these!!!! Thank you so much for posting it.

Penless Thoughts said...

Hi Maxine, Wanted to let you know I linked to this post today :o)

Anonymous said...

Hi Maxine, I found this post through Susan, and you have lots of great ideas!! Two that I am definitely going to try are brushing my teeth with baking soda, and putting some in my baby's bath. I didn't know either of these tips, thank you!!! =)

Lori said...

I also came ot your site through Susan's.
I never knew there were so many uses for backing soda.
I've done some of these before.
I'm off to clean my sinks with baking soda.