Surprising Uses For Baking Soda

You might know baking soda as a staple ingredient when making muffins, breads, or cookies. But did you know baking soda isn't just for baking? The powerful (and inexpensive) ingredient has multiple household and personal uses as well.

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), is actually a type of salt, according to the American Chemical Society. Its natural mineral form was first discovered by Nicolas Leblanc in the 1790s and became mass-produced in the 1860s. Today it's estimated that 2 million tons are produced globally each year.

Baking soda is an alkaline mineral, meaning that it can neutralize acids (via WebMD). This makes it good for settling stomachs or hiding embarrassing cooking smells. When used in baking, it combines with an acid like buttermilk or lemon juice to release carbon dioxide, causing your batter or dough to rise when in the oven (via American Chemical Society). But baking soda has so many uses beyond the cooking or baking range as well.

A household powerhouse

Is there anything baking soda can't do? Well, yes, but its many uses may surprise you. According to Healthline, baking soda can be useful in a number of ways.

Helping with heartburn and indigestion: When stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, it can cause discomfort and pain. Try dissolving ΒΌ teaspoon baking soda in a glass of water to neutralize stomach acid.

Teeth whitening: Baking soda is a popular at-home treatment for whitening teeth. Because it is slightly abrasive, baking soda can be useful for breaking down materials that stain the teeth. It is also antimicrobial and antibacterial, making it a good option for protecting against bad bacteria.

Getting rid of unwanted odors: When baking soda interacts with odor particles, it breaks them down and virtually eliminates them, instead of just covering up the smell. Leave a cup of baking soda in the back of your fridge to freshen up the kitchen.

Cleaning the kitchen: In addition to fighting odors, baking soda can also be mixed with water and made into a paste, good for scrubbing the oven, polishing silver, unclogging drains, cleaning greasy stovetops, and more.

Neutralizing underarm odor: When sweat gets broken down by underarm bacteria, it becomes acidic and produces a smell. Try dabbing some baking soda on your armpits to help neutralize the odor.

Use it for health and wellness too

WebMD shares other helpful uses for baking soda as well.

Freshening breath: Try mixing a half teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water and quickly swish, killing bacteria and freshening your breath.

Treating rashes and stings: Baking soda is known to calm the skin and soothe irritation. Mix one part baking soda to three parts water to minimize symptoms of poison ivy, insect bites, and rashes.

Helping with kidney disease: Since kidney disease prevents the kidneys from properly removing acid from the blood, taking a daily dose of baking soda, which is an alkaline substance, may help with this.

However, there are some cautions when using baking soda. According to Medical News Today, ingesting too much baking soda can result in poisoning, since it has a high sodium content. Additionally, too much baking soda can react with stomach acid and cause a chemical reaction that releases too much gas, actually rupturing the stomach. Baking soda can also affect how certain medications are absorbed, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider before consuming baking soda.