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Baking soda has lately taken the Internet by storm. Chemically known as sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate, it is commonly used in baked products such as cakes, muffins, and cookies to make them rise and give them a fluffy texture when baking.
But did you know that baking soda is also used: (1)(2)
- As a cleaning agent
- In personal care items such as lotions, soaps, and toothpaste
- To increase the pH of the body (by adding to drinking water)
- As a stain remover
- To remove pesticides off fruits and veggies (3)
Baking soda can easily be considered an all-purpose product because of its various uses. This article will explore the most unusual uses for baking soda that can be easily recreated at home.
Uses of Baking Soda
Given below are some unusual but handy uses for baking soda you may not know about.
1. As a mouthwash
Baking soda can be employed in place of mouthwash as it has antibacterial and antimicrobial characteristics and can freshen breath. By increasing the pH levels of saliva, baking soda prevents the growth of bacteria.
According to research, using a sodium bicarbonate mouth rinse as a substitute for chlorhexidine and alcohol based mouthwash is a cost-effective and effective solution. (4)(5)
To prepare a baking soda mouthwash:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with a small glass of warm water.
- Swish the mixture in your mouth for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Spit out the mixture.
- Rinse your mouth with water.
- Repeat once daily or as needed.
2. To relieve itchy skin
Research suggests that baking soda can be beneficial for itchy skin, particularly in individuals with psoriasis.
In a study of 31 patients with mild to moderate psoriasis, those who took sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) baths reported a statistically significant improvement in their symptoms, including reduced itchiness and irritation.
The patients themselves recognized the beneficial impact of the treatment on their psoriasis, with many continuing to use baking soda baths even after the end of the study.
Despite the availability of modern treatments for psoriasis, this study highlights the potential benefits of traditional, medicated baths such as sodium bicarbonate baths for managing itchy skin conditions. (6)
To use baking soda to relieve itchy skin:
- Fill your bathtub with warm water.
- Add 1–2 cups of baking soda to the water and stir until it dissolves.
- Soak in the baking soda bath for 15–30 minutes.
- Gently pat yourself dry with a towel and avoid rubbing your skin.
- Repeat once daily or as needed.
3. To relieve sunburn
Although there is no quick cure for sunburn, there are methods to alleviate the discomfort it causes. One effective approach is to take a baking soda bath.
By adding a few tablespoons of baking soda to cool bath water and soaking in it for 15–20 minutes, the effects of sunburn can be soothed. (7)
To use baking soda to relieve sunburn:
- Fill your bathtub with cool water.
- Add ½ cup of baking soda to the water and stir it well.
- Soak in the bath for 15–20 minutes.
- Gently pat yourself dry with a towel, leaving a bit of water on your skin.
- Apply a light moisturizer.
4. To whiten teeth
Baking soda is well known for its gentle abrasive properties, making it a popular choice for at-home teeth whitening.
Research has shown that toothpaste containing baking soda is both safe and effective in removing tooth stains and achieving a whiter smile, outperforming non-baking-soda-containing toothpaste. (8)
Additionally, studies have suggested that using baking soda toothpaste can significantly reduce gingival index and plaque index. (9)
To prepare your own baking soda teeth whitener:
- Wet your toothbrush and dip it into some baking soda, shaking off any excess powder.
- Gently brush your teeth with the baking soda for 1–2 minutes, focusing on the front surface of your teeth.
- Spit out the baking soda and rinse your mouth with water.
- Brush your teeth again with regular toothpaste to remove any leftover baking soda.
- Repeat this process as needed but not more than twice a week as overuse can damage the tooth enamel.
5. To control bad odor
The use of baking soda can aid in controlling unpleasant household odors. Managing undesirable scents emanating from waste, such as food waste, is critical.
In a study examining the efficacy of baking soda in controlling food waste odor, it was determined that baking soda could diminish odors by roughly 70%. (10)
To use baking soda to control bad odor:
- Identify the area or object causing the odor.
- Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda over the affected area or object.
- Leave the baking soda for at least 15–20 minutes or longer if needed.
- Vacuum or wipe away the baking soda.
- Repeat the process if necessary.
6. To treat heartburn
Individuals who suffer from heartburn can utilize sodium bicarbonate as an antacid to alleviate stomach discomfort.
Heartburn, a prevalent digestive disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, is characterized by a burning sensation in the stomach that spreads to the throat. Baking soda is commonly used in clinical settings as an antacid to treat this condition. (11)
To use baking soda as an antacid to control heartburn:
- Mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda with 4 ounces of water.
- Stir the mixture until the baking soda dissolves completely.
- Drink the mixture.
7. To soothe canker sores
Baking soda has been found to be effective in providing relief from canker sores, which are painful ulcers that occur in the mouth’s lining.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for individuals suffering from canker sores, and this can be achieved by using baking soda mouthwash and regular teeth cleaning. (12)(13)
To use baking soda to soothe canker sores:
- Make a mouthwash by dissolving 1 teaspoon of baking soda in ½ cup of warm water.
- Swish the solution in your mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out.
- You can do this a few times a day, as needed, to help relieve the pain and irritation of canker sores.
8. To fight nail infections
Baking soda can help treat nail infections caused by different types of fungi.
In a study, researchers tested the effects of baking soda on 70 strains of fungi that cause skin and nail infections. They found that a solution of 10 grams of baking soda per liter of water could stop the growth of 80% of the fungi. Different types of fungi required different amounts of baking soda to be effective.
In another test, researchers applied a solution of 10 grams of baking soda per liter of water to infected nails and skin for 7 days. They found that 79% of the samples had no fungal growth after treatment, and 17% had reduced growth. (14)
To use baking soda to fight nail infections:
- Mix baking soda with water to create a paste, and apply it directly to the affected nail.
- Alternatively, you can dissolve baking soda in warm water, and soak your feet or hands in the solution for 15–20 minutes daily.
9. To clean the ears
Earwax buildup is a common problem and a common reason for doctor’s visits.
A study reviewed different methods of cleaning the ears and found that using softeners such as baking soda or other substances such as olive oil or water is more effective than doing nothing. (15)
To use baking soda for cleaning the ears:
- Mix a small amount of baking soda with water to make a paste.
- Using a clean cotton swab or your finger, apply a small amount of the paste to the entrance of your ear canal.
- Do not insert the swab or your finger into your ear canal.
- Let the paste sit in your ear for a few minutes.
- Rinse your ear with warm water using a bulb syringe or by tilting your head to the side and letting the water flow into your ear canal.
- Avoid getting water deep into your ear canal, as this can cause injury or infection.
- Dry your ear with a clean towel.
Note: It is important to exercise caution when cleaning your ears and to seek the advice of a medical professional if you have concerns about earwax or ear cleaning.
10. To improve exercise performance
According to a comprehensive review and critical analysis of the literature conducted by experts in the field and selected members of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), sodium bicarbonate supplementation can improve exercise performance. The following are the key conclusions: (16)
- Sodium bicarbonate supplementation improves performance in muscular endurance activities, various combat sports, and high-intensity cycling, running, swimming, and rowing, particularly for exercise tasks lasting between 30 seconds and 12 minutes.
- Sodium bicarbonate improves performance in both single- and multiple-bout exercises and for both men and women. (16)
11. To remove pesticides from fruits
The use of pesticides is common in fruit production to prevent pest infestation.
Baking soda has been found to be effective in removing pesticides from the surface of apples by causing chemical degradation of the pesticide. (17)
To use baking soda for pesticide removal from fruits:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 cups of water.
- Put the fruit (e.g., apples) in the mixture and let it soak for 15–20 minutes.
- Scrub the fruit with a brush to remove any remaining dirt or pesticide residue.
- Rinse the fruit thoroughly under running water.
- Dry the fruit with a clean cloth or let it air-dry.
12. To clean your combs
Continuous use of combs can lead to the accumulation of natural oils, making them unhygienic. Soaking combs in warm water with a teaspoon of baking soda can effectively remove the oil buildup.
It is important to clean combs regularly to maintain hair hygiene. (18)
To clean combs with baking soda:
- Fill a container with warm water.
- Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the water and mix until dissolved.
- Place the combs in the container and let them soak for 10–15 minutes.
- Use an old toothbrush to scrub away any remaining buildup or debris on the combs.
- Rinse the combs thoroughly with water and allow them to air-dry.
13. To disinfect hard surfaces
One study has found that baking soda can be a useful cleaner for kitchen surfaces. Its acid-neutralizing properties have been shown to inhibit the growth of certain fungi and viruses.
This research suggests that baking soda may be a viable alternative to commercial cleaners, as it has antibacterial properties that make it a good household cleaner and disinfectant. (19)(20)
To use baking soda for disinfecting hard surfaces:
- Clean the surface with soap and water to remove any dirt or grime.
- Mix baking soda with water to create a paste.
- Apply the paste to the surface and scrub it with a sponge or brush.
- Let it sit for a few minutes.
- Wipe the surface clean with a damp cloth.
Precautions to Consider
Sodium bicarbonate has the prospect of significant toxicity if consumed in exaggerated amounts. Misuse of baking soda can therefore cause severe electrolyte and acid/base imbalances.
Moreover, self-treatment of medical issues with baking soda can delay medical care, thereby complicating the medical problem. (21)
The most common side effects of sodium bicarbonate supplementation are bloating, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, but they can be minimized by adjusting the timing and dose of ingestion, ingesting with a high-carbohydrate meal, or using enteric-coated capsules. (16)
Most-Asked Questions About Using Baking Soda
Who should avoid baking soda baths?
Avoid baking soda baths if you have:
- Serious infection
- Open wounds
- Allergies to baking soda
- Heart issues
What’s the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
Baking powder is made up of baking soda with powdered acid mixed in it. So, in presence of moisture, baking powder undergoes a reaction, producing carbon dioxide gas.
Is baking soda poisonous on ingestion?
Baking soda can be poisonous if swallowed in large amounts. So, it should be kept away from the reach of children.
Baking soda can be used for so many things because of its various beneficial properties. This natural product, which is chemically known as sodium bicarbonate, can come in handy for a variety of daily life applications other than baking.
The best part is, in comparison to its commercial alternatives, baking soda is toxic-free and eco-friendly.
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