The Top Ten Uses for Baking Soda

What is Baking Soda?

Of all the bits and pieces that the householder is apt to keep permanently in the pantry, baking soda is among the most useful. Not only is it used in a multitude of recipes but it is also an efficient and handy cleaner and has medicinal purposes as well. Baking soda has been around for generations and is a tried and trusted product.

Baking soda and baking powder are slightly different. Baking powder contains the key ingredient sodium bicarbonate (the pure alkaline form) but usually comes mixed with an acidic ingredient such as cream of tartar to get the right reaction for cooking. However for cleaning purposes bicarbonate of soda can be used on its own. Baking powder can be made quite easily at home by mixing two parts cream of tartar with one part bicarbonate of soda. Bicarb, as it's called in Australia or baking soda as it's called in the US (mixed with liquid) may be used on it's own for cooking but is usually only added to batters that already contain an acidic ingredient such as lemon or buttermilk.

The natural mineral form of sodium bicarbonate is called nahcolite, a soft carbonite mineral that is naturally white or colourless. It appears as a precipitate (a solid formed in a solution) in hot springs and saline lakes. Commercial baking soda is a cheap, multi-purpose, non-toxic product and the suggestions listed below are just the tip of the ice-berg. In fact, baking soda is so handy, it's best to buy it in bulk!

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For Cooking

Baking powder is a leavening agent, which means, when added to a batter it creates air bubbles and causes the mixture to rise and expand when cooked. it has a similar effect to self-raising flour and indeed it can be used to convert plain flour into SF flour by mixing two teaspoons of baking powder to a cup of plain flour.

There are a multitude of recipes that use baking powder but here's just one:

Peanut Biscuit Recipe

Ingredients

One and a half cups of plain flour

One half teaspoon of baking powder

Three quarters of a cup of brown sugar

One egg

One teaspoon of vanilla essence

A good pinch of salt

Quarter of a cup of vegetable oil

Cup of chopped roasted peanuts

Method

Mix egg in a large bowl with beaters, add mix in the sugar. Mix up the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and slowly add to the egg mixture, alternating with the oil. Finally, add vanilla and chopped peanuts. Drop in teaspoonfuls on a greased tray or one lined with baking paper and cook in a moderately hot oven (190 celsius, 375 Fahrenheit) for around 6 or 7 minutes.

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Cleaning Crockery

Nothing beats baking soda for getting rid of all those ingrained tea and coffee stains that often accumulate around the handle and base of cups.

These type of stains can be hard to clean but baking soda makes it easy- just rub it into the grime with your finger or a brush. Rinse and voila, stains gone.

Grease Remover

Baking soda will remove grease spills from your floor as well as caked on grease from the bottom of your pots and pans.

To remove floor stains and scuff marks, sprinkle the baking soda over the spot and then wipe with a clean wet rag. To remove serious grease from pots, sprinkle with baking soda, pour boiling water over the lot and leave overnight.

As a Polishing Paste

Mix some baking soda with water to make a thickish paste for cleaning and polishing chrome and stainless steel. Apply with a clean rag.

Also good for cleaning silver. Rub the paste onto silver items, rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

Baking Soda as a Mould Remover

Baking soda is terrific for removing mould from bathroom ceilings, walls, tiles etc. Simply mix the soda into a paste with water and apply with a damp cloth. Works a treat.

As a Drain Cleaner

Before resorting to plungers and powerful commercial drain cleaners, try using baking soda periodically to clean and maintain drains and prevent blockages. Use one cup of baking soda followed by three cups of boiling water. The boiling water causes the baking soda to react and increases cleaning effectiveness.

Baking Soda for Indigestion

A while back I developed a bad case of indigestion, which would often strike a short while after an evening meal. A half teaspoon of bicarb (baking soda) in a half glass of water did the trick for me, with immediate and lasting results.

The baking soda seemed a good choice because, I didn't want to take any type of drug, preferring a natural solution. evidently the baking soda acts as an effective antacid, neutralising the acids in the stomach.

NB: If however you suffer from persistent indigestion, its advisable to consult a doctor as baking soda should only be used as an occasional antacid - it's not a cure for an underlying problem.

Baking Soda for Nausea

When I was growing up, my mother would always give me half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water whenever I felt nauseous - "it will either make you vomit or stop the nausea but either way you'll feel better", she said. She was right.

NB:As with indigestion, persistent nausea needs to be investigated by a doctor.

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Baking Soda as a Tooth whitener

Mix a little baking soda with your toothpaste for a safe and natural tooth whitener and use once or twice a week to brighten that smile. As the soda does have a mildly abrasive effect it's probably best not to use it neat (though some people do) and not every day. May also be used a denture cleaner.

Baking Soda as a Deodorant

Out of deodorant and no time to get to the shop? Don't panic - head for the pantry and grap some baking soda, which is commonly used as an ingredient in commercial deodorants. Apply under arms with a couple of cotton balls or a powder puff -it works! Use sparingly, as you don't need a whole heap.

Baking soda is also good as an all round deodoriser -keep a small bowl in the fridge, freezer or a cupboard to eliminate bad odours.

Baking Soda as a Carpet Stain Remover

As a general stain remover, perfect for pet stains on carpets and other marks and blemishes, try this baking soda concoction..

  • one cup of vinegar
  • one half cup of baking soda
  • one cup of water

Mix together in a spray bottle and apply and blot. Repeat a few times.

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