It sits in my cupboard, probably much like yours — a cheap box of what is better known as the go-to fridge and freezer deodorizer. Yes, you might also cook with it, but I bet you didn’t know there are a gazillion ways to put sodium bicarbonate to work in your home. It seems that I find new uses for this stuff daily.
Before we dig into some really practical applications, allow me a minute to clarify what exactly baking soda really is. Quite simply, sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) is a chemical salt that, in its natural form, is the mineral nahcolite. This interesting substance can react as both an acid and a base, although in an aqueous solution it is a bit on the alkaline side.
Pure nahcolite is found in abundance in the Green River Basin which cuts through several states in the central part of our country. A number of commercial companies mine nahcolite directly from the ground and sell it as a raw product, while others heat and treat it with chemicals and then sell it. Either way, both methods produce an environmentally friendly product.
Alrighty, now that we have the short and sweet science lesson out of the way, I am going to let you in on 23 ways I have actually used baking soda in my home. You wouldn’t believe the money I have saved — I regularly purchase about three boxes of the stuff every time I go to the grocery store. Like many other natural substances such as Epsom salt, and coconut oil, baking soda is highly esteemed in my home and gets front and center pantry real estate.
#1 Ultimate pot and pan scrubber—It never fails, I always seem to char my pots and pans. Good news, a little baking soda and water combined with just the right amount of elbow grease is an easy and safe way to get your pots and pans sparkling clean.
#2 No-fume oven cleaner—Commercial oven cleaning products are downright dangerous. I hate the smell of them and any time in the past I have used them (which is very few), I get a headache. Thankfully, there is a natural option. Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda with a quart of water and scrub away. I use baking soda monthly to keep my oven sparkling clean.
#3 Old-time fridge deodorizer—Perhaps the best known way to use baking soda. Just be sure to put in a fresh box monthly, and don’t forget about your freezer too.
#4 Ant and cockroach repellant—Ever had those times when the ants move in and you just can’t seem to evict them? A little baking soda sprinkled around their point of entry is as good as any toxic chemical to keep these pesky critters out.
#5 Fruit and veggie wash—No matter where I buy my fruits and veggies from, I always like to wash them before using. For a long time I purchased the fancy veggie wash at the grocery store, until I discovered that for pennies, baking soda is just as effective. Just sprinkle a little baking soda powder on a damp sponge, scrub lightly and rinse.
#6 Top-secret omelette ingredient—I love the omelettes at IHOP, seriously they are as close to perfect as I think you can get. I don’t know how they do it, but I found a way to make my omelettes fluffy. I add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to every 3 eggs and they look and taste amazing… shhh, don’t tell anyone, it is top secret. Next time you have a breakfast party, you can wow your friends with this trick.
#7 Healthy sports drink—I am not a big fan of commercial energy drinks, they are loaded with sugar, caffeine, and who knows what else. Replace these toxins in a can with a simple energy drink that keeps lactic acid from building up. Simply shake together 4 cups of water with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, 2 tablespoons of raw local honey and 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice. I always drink some after a hard workout or take some with me when I go hiking or biking.
#8 Cheap homemade toothpaste—I always buy natural toothpaste, but one day when I ran out, I tried mixing baking soda and food-grade hydrogen peroxide together with a drop of cinnamon essential oil and a touch of water. Great stuff, works wonders to remove buildup on teeth and leaves my breath smelling clean and fresh. Best of all… the price tag!
#9 Insect bite remedy—I am sure you have had those annoying insect bites that just keep itching and itching. An easy way to reduce the inflammation and irritation caused by these bites is to make a paste with baking soda and water and dab it on the inflamed area. This also helps with poison ivy.
#10 Soothe tired feet— If you are on your feet a large portion of the day, you can ease end-of-the-day swelling by mixing 3 tablespoons of baking soda in warm water. Add your favorite essential oil for the ultimate home spa treatment.
#11 Drain cleaner—Drain cleaners are renowned for being dangerous concoctions of chemicals. Bypass the odor and possible health consequences of drain cleaners and make your own simple, yet effective, solution using baking soda and vinegar. For clogged drains, first pour a quart of boiling water down the drain, then follow that up with a 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar.
Cover the drain and let it sit for about thirty minutes. Remove the cover and run hot water down the drain for about 5 minutes. Repeat if necessary. With three girls in my house (all with long hair) I give my drains this treatment monthly to keep things flowing.
#12 Stainless and chrome polish—I hate the way my sink and bathroom fixtures look when they get grimy. For a quick polish, make a paste of baking soda and water and use as a polish. After you polish, wipe with a clean cloth and buff for shine.
#13 Fishy taste buster—I love to eat fish but hate a super strong fishy taste. I found out that some of the best chefs in America use a trick to tackle this problem. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of sea salt to a gallon of cold water. Stir until everything is dissolved. Submerge the fish in the solution and put in the fridge overnight (8 hours). Remove the fish from the solution, rinse with cold water, and dry for the best tasting fish ever. Trust me, it works.
#14 Gas suppressor—I love beans, my whole family loves beans — they are a staple in my home. However, I don’t always like what comes along with beans… To keep gas from forming in the stomach, simply squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into 4 ounces of water and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir, wait for the fizz to subside, stir again and drink. In about ten minutes you will feel less bloated and have far less gas. Your loved ones will thank you!
#15 Meat tenderizer—Although I am a vegetarian, two of my kids eat meat. I always want to serve them the best, so I only buy grass fed beef and free range chicken. To tenderize the meat I sprinkle baking soda on raw meat, using about 1 teaspoon for 1 pound of meat. Work the baking soda into the meat with your hands and leave it on for about an hour. Rinse the meat well, squeeze out the water and pat dry.
#16 Laundry booster—Adding a little baking soda to your laundry detergent is a great way to boost its performance. The baking soda powder works to regulate the pH level in the water and just a 1/2 cup in each load will enable your detergent to reduce bacteria and loosen soil.
#17 Window cleaner—I have always used vinegar and newspaper to clean my windows, but now I use baking soda. I wash windows with a clean sponge dipped in baking soda. To remove the haze, I rinse the windows with another clean wet sponge and dry. No more streaks!
#18 Dry shampoo—Need a quick pick-me-up between washes? I find that baking soda is perfect for in between or when I am camping. I simply flip my head upside down and pour about 1/8 cup of baking soda into my hand. I try to get all of my hair covered, being careful not to get too much on my scalp. I flip my head up and brush my hair.
#19 Metabolism booster—There are three compounds in green tea that are thought to help promote weight loss: catechins, theanine and caffeine. These substances work together to block enzymes that are responsible for fat storage in the body.When you combine the super-metabolizing powers of green tea with baking soda, you rev up your fat burning power while encouraging optimal pH (7.2) in the body. This is necessary for balance.
A pH factor that is not optimal will cause excess acid to be stored in fat cells. An acidic person can’t burn fat well, because doing so would release the acid that is stored in body fat — and this would throw the blood pH out of whack. If your pH is not balanced, you may also feel fatigued and ill. Choose organic green tea and add a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to an 8-ounce cup before drinking. Enjoy daily.
#20 Clean hair brushes—Hair brushes tend to get dirty quickly with oil, as well as product buildup. For lustrous hair that shines, it’s important to keep your brushes and combs clean. You can remove the buildup and residue by soaking combs and brushes in a solution of 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a small basin of warm water. Rinse and allow brushes to dry.
You can also clean your toothbrushes by soaking them in a mixture of 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of water. Allow them to soak overnight for a thorough cleaning.
#21 Facial cleanser—One of the worst things you can do for your face is to cleanse it with a harsh, chemical-laden product. Sadly, women, and many men, do this daily, stripping off the natural oils and protective elements of the skin. Each morning, I simply mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of warm water in a small bowl. Sometimes I add a couple of drops of tea tree essential oil for extra cleansing power. All you have to do is rub the paste on your skin in small circular motions and rinse with warm water. Follow this up with a little coconut oil moisturizer and you are set for the day.
#22 Non-toxic deodorant—I am all about non toxic deodorant and love to experiment with new and different kinds. I have found that mixing about 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 10 drops of lavender essential oil makes a great deodorant powder. If you want a creamy mixture add in some coconut oil to the desired consistency. This healthy skin combo will keep you smelling fresh all day long as it kills unwanted bacteria and normalizes pH levels.
#23 Fingernail stain remover—Dark nail polishes can stain your nails yellow and are common causes of unsightly discoloration. You can also get yellow nail stains from exposing your nails to rust, paints, varnishes, nicotine and other chemicals. To get rid of these stains, try mixing baking soda and peroxide and scrubbing it on your nails with a nail brush or an old toothbrush.
Now, just so you know, I have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creative ways to use baking soda. The great news is that it is cheap — super cheap — natural, and environmentally friendly. So, next time you are in the store, stock up, and get busy finding ways to use this amazing substance in your home.
Will you share some of your baking soda secrets with us?
-Susan Patterson, CHC, CMTA
Susan is the Content Director at The Alternative Daily, a Certified Health Coach, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and Master Gardener. With an extensive knowledge of whole foods and wellness, Susan enjoys educating others on how to live healthy and sustainable lives. She presently lives off grid in the middle of the New Mexican high desert with her three children and numerous animals.