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Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, mined as the mineral nahcolite and then extracted via a simple process. Many baking recipes call for both baking soda and baking powder. The latter is not pure baking soda, but also contains added acid salts. Both help baked goods to rise via the release of carbon dioxide, when combined with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. 

But aside from its uses in baking, there are numerous other benefits to baking soda. It makes a great alternative to chemically-laden personal care products and cleaning agents.

Baking Soda for Dental Care

Toothpaste is often toxic — even many of the “healthier” alternatives contain dubious ingredients as well. Baking soda can be used as a great alternative, or at least as an ingredient in alternative toothpaste formulas. It has been shown to be directly antimicrobial against strep mutans, the bacteria most associated with tooth decay and cavities. Because of its antimicrobial properties, it also freshens breath, increases salivary pH necessary to inhibit growth of bad bacteria, and also works well for stain removal and whitening. 

You can mix equal parts baking soda and salt with a bit of water to make a paste, or alternatively, baking soda can be dissolved in warm water for an alternative to mouthwash. The latter can be particularly helpful to aid in healing of oral ulcers. 

Baking Soda as a Deodorant Alternative

Deodorants can also be quite toxic—even those that are considered “natural.” 

Baking soda, again for its antimicrobial and thus odor-fighting properties, is a great alternative ingredient. Since it’s a powder, using it alone might not be too effective—but you can mix it with coconut oil so that it sticks. 

Baking Soda for Air Freshening

On the subject of neutralizing foul smells: many of us already use an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator. But it can likewise be used to decrease odors from trashcans, or as an alternative air freshener for a room. (Commercial air fresheners are full of toxic solvents!) 

Baking Soda as a Household Cleaning Agent

Baking soda forms the basis of a number of different alternative cleaning recipes. Just as in baked goods, it foams when combined with vinegar. 

Baking soda alone (with water) works well to scrub particularly stubborn pots and pans.

It also works well for cleaning tarnished jewelry!

Baking Soda to Remove Pesticides

While it’s a good idea to buy the Dirty Dozen fruits and veggies organic to avoid pesticides as much as possible, it’s still beneficial to wash your fruits and veggies before consumption. Baking soda and water is an excellent way to remove any lingering residue from pesticides. 

Baking Soda for Hair and Scalp 

Baking soda cleanses all kinds of things… hair included! It’s a great way to get rid of not just buildup from other products, but  also to remove buildup from hard water as well. You can just add about a tsp of baking soda to the shampoo in your palm, lather and rinse as usual.

Because baking soda is very alkaline, it’s best to do this no more than once a week. 

The Upshot

If you need to clean something stubborn, in your household or on your person, baking soda is generally a great choice. Consider the linked recommendations above, or search for homemade recipes!