Have you ever wondered how something as trivial as baking soda could have widespread applications in healthcare, beauty products, and home decor?
You can get rid of your smelly shoes and also ensure sparkly clean utensils. It can alleviate the symptoms of heartburn and UTI too.
Be it softer hands or whiter teeth, baking soda has the solution to all your problems. Sodium bicarbonate enhances cancer chemotherapy and improves exercise tolerance while refining the quality of your toothpaste and shampoo.
Read further to know more about this inexpensive, readily available, and easy-to-use product.
What is baking soda?
Baking soda is mined in many places like California, Colorado, Mexico, and Uganda for its ore called Nahcolite. It is made entirely of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) which has an alkaline nature (pH 9) and is responsible for most of the properties of baking soda utilized by us.
It is commonly used to bake bread because on reacting with an acid, it gives off CO2 gas which makes the bread spongy. Baking powder, on the other hand, contains a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and a weak acid.
Use of baking soda in teeth and hair
According to an article published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry, adding baking soda to your toothpaste enhances plaque removal dramatically and promotes better dental hygiene. (1)
You can either make your own toothpaste at home or add baking soda to store-bought toothpaste and use it a few times a week.
Since baking soda is an abrasive, using it alone for a long time can cause attrition, i.e., wearing off of enamel. So, make sure you dilute it in your paste or soak your brush in a mixture of baking soda and water before use.
Since baking soda has some anti-bacterial activity and it can effectively get rid of all oily remnants in your mouth, rinsing your mouth twice daily with a mixture of baking soda in water keeps your mouth fresh and free of bad odor at all times.
If you wish for white, shiny teeth, then baking soda is nature’s way of fulfilling your wish! Applying a paste of baking soda on your teeth once a week for five minutes will not only whiten your teeth but also keep them free of bacteria and plaque. (2)
4. Cleanse your hair
You will be surprised to know that you can get rid of all the dirt and oil sitting on your head and also remove residue that is left from hair products by just adding a teaspoon of baking soda to your shampoo bottle.
5. Comb and brush cleaner
You can avoid using strong and harmful chemicals to clean your combs and brushes. Instead, cover them with a paste made by mixing two teaspoons of baking soda and water, leave them untouched for fifteen minutes, and rinse them thoroughly.
Use of baking soda as beauty products and skincare
Many of you have a delicate skin which is susceptible to sunburns as soon as you step out of your house. As a remedial or preventive measure,
You can have a nice long bath by soaking in a tub full of warm water with half a cup of baking soda dissolved in it. You can also add this multi-purpose powder to your body lotion to soothe the burnt areas.
7. Bug Bites
Bug bites can be very troublesome due to them being an aesthetic problem and also, very itchy! Both your problems will be solved if you apply a paste of baking soda and water thrice a day.
8. Rashes and allergy
If you have an itchy skin due to sunburn, poison ivy, poison oak, or some allergy, you can apply a paste of baking soda and water to those areas.
Leave it untouched for fifteen minutes and then, wash. Repeat this procedure as many times a day as you want till your itchy skin is cured.
9. Hand and foot softener
Mix baking soda in warm water and rub your hands and feet with it till they become extra soft and dirt-free. This can also prevent bacterial infections and nail fungus.
10. Remove splinters
A concoction of one tablespoon baking soda and water is enough to remove splinters naturally in a few days if you apply the paste twice daily to the affected areas.
11. Natural deodorant
Mix one teaspoon in enough water so that it forms a milky white paste and then apply it to your underarms and feet to prevent bad odor.
12. Exfoliate your skin
You can remove dead or dried skin along with dirt from your face by massaging it with a paste made by mixing a teaspoon of baking soda with half a cup of water.
This is an inexpensive and effective way to ensure healthy skin, but you mustn’t use it very often as it may alter the pH of your skin.
Use of baking soda in systemic diseases
13. Gastritis, gastric ulcer, and heartburn
It’s very common to get a stomach upset or heartburn after a heavy meal and instead of store-bought remedies like Tums and Rolaids, adding half a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water and drinking it an hour after your meal provides excellent relief.
14. Along with cancer drugs
Cancer drugs being weakly alkaline in nature cannot act effectively in the acidic pH of many solid tumors. Also, the low pH diminishes your immune response and helps pathogens to flourish.
Studies have shown that bicarbonate therapy not only enhances the activity of anti-cancer drugs but it also slows down spontaneous metastasis of breast tumor. (3)
15. Urinary tract infection
Taking half a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a cup of water during urinary tract infections causes diuresis which increases the flushing out of bacteria, and it also lowers burning and pain during micturition.
16. Improve exercise tolerance
Drinking a mixture of baking soda in water before exercise improves your athletic performance and also increases your endurance for a high-energy workout.
If you suffer from painful cramps after your workout session, you can soak your legs in a tub of warm water with one teaspoon of baking soda added to it. This will neutralize the lactic acid build up and alleviate your pain.
Use of baking soda in household
17. Car wash
Add one-fourth cup of baking soda to one cup water and dissolve it well before rubbing it on your car’s seats, windows, tires, and lights to remove dirt and grease effectively.
For all the other ‘paint-covered’ parts, dilute one-fourth NaHCO3 powder in a gallon of water and make sure no lumps are left behind as the powder itself is an abrasive.
18. Kitchen scrub
You can sprinkle some baking soda powder on your kitchen surfaces before rubbing them with a scrub to remove difficult stains and dirt. Adding lemon, peppermint or lavender essential oils will provide a natural fragrance to your kitchen.
19. Closet cleaner
You merely have to put a cup of baking soda in the corner of your closet, and you’ll get fresh air every time you rummage it for clothes.
20. Shower curtain cleaner
If you are tired of those stains on your shower curtain, you can try rubbing them off with a baking soda solution.
21. Clean and deodorize your cat litter
If you love your kitty but hate the smell it leaves behind, you can cover the bottom of your cat’s litter box with baking soda powder and then add the cat litter. Also, sprinkle some NaHCO3 powder after cleaning the litter.
22. Clean pots and pans
You can soak all your dirty pots and pans in a mixture of baking soda and warm water for fifteen minutes to remove dirt, grease, and food particles without damaging their shine.
23. Carpet cleaner
Commercial carpet cleaners contain chemicals which may cause harm to your pets and children. Instead, sprinkle baking soda powder for 15-20 minutes and then vacuum it off your carpet to remove all dirt as well as prevent bad odor.
24. Gently clean baby clothes
Baby clothes are more fragile than the rest of your laundry, and hence, it requires milder cleaning agents. Baking soda acts as a natural cleanser and fabric softener while keeping the clothes unharmed.
25. Fruit and vegetable scrub
Soaking store-bought fruits and vegetables in a mixture of baking soda and water not only removes pesticides and insecticides from their surface but also kills some pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
26. Oven cleaner
Instead of chemical cleaners, you can effectively remove dirt and grease from your oven by cleaning it with wet sponge or rag sprinkled with baking soda powder.
27. Drain cleaner
A mixture of baking soda and vinegar is much safer as compared to the chemical drain cleaners used conventionally. Pour the bicarbonate and vinegar solution in your drain and allow it to bubble for 15 minutes following which you must rinse it with hot water.
28. Improve the efficiency of your dishwasher
Add baking soda to your regular dishwashing soap to remove grease and grime more effectively.
29. Clean and shine your silverware
Apply a paste made by adding baking soda and water in a ratio of three is to one to your silver and keep them untouched for fifteen to twenty minutes. Wash thoroughly with plain warm water.
30. Homemade fire extinguisher
NaHCO3 is one of the main components in a fire extinguisher as it produces CO2 gas on reacting with a strong acid. CO2 gas surrounds the fire and cuts off its oxygen supply, consequently putting it out.
31. Deodorize your shoes
You no longer have to be ashamed of your weird smelling shoes after a long day at work or after a heavy workout session. Sprinkle some baking powder inside your shoes, and the bad odor will disappear within minutes.
32. Tea and coffee pot cleaner
For all the caffeine lovers out there who are battling with the stains of their favorite beverages, baking soda is the go-to remedy for you.
Add a quarter cup NaHCO3 to one cup water, rub it on the stains and then allow it to stand for 15-30 minutes before washing it off.
Health benefits of baking soda
1. Acts as an antacid for stomach pain
Being alkaline, baking soda neutralizes the acid being produced in the stomach. Most of the times, stomach pain occurs due to an unopposed release of gastric acid (HCl) and acid reflux or heartburn.
This can lead to ulcer formation which has dire consequences in the form of bleeding and perforation. Increased consumption of acidic foods or a generalized acidic state may aggravate such conditions.
Add a teaspoon of baking soda to a cup of water, mix it well, and drink it slowly to get instant relief. It not only neutralizes your stomach acid but also brings your body’s altered pH back to normal. (4)
2. Alleviates symptoms of urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infection is one of the most common diseases in the US which comes with a lot of disturbing symptoms like burning sensation while urinating, incontinence and increased frequency of micturition. (5)
A 2017 study published in the International Urogynecological Journal gave oral sodium bicarbonate supplements to women suffering from lower urinary tract infection who had a urine pH of less than 6.
After four weeks, the subjects who received oral bicarbonates showed higher urine pH and improved symptoms of UTI like nocturia (increased urination at night), burning micturition, incontinence, and increased frequency. (6)
Hence, baking soda is an inexpensive and effective way of alleviating the symptoms of UTI with the added advantage of minimal side effects associated with it.
3. Kills pathogenic bacteria and fungi
Bacteria like Streptococcus mutans are one of the leading causes of tooth decay and dental caries. Adding baking soda to your toothpaste or gargle prevents the growth of this bacterium in addition to keeping bad odor away. (7)
Baking soda can effectively kill many fungal groups like dermatophytes, candida, and molds that cause nail and skin infections along with other superficial skin conditions. (8)
4. Improves kidney health
Baking soda intake alleviates the degree of metabolic acidosis which is produced as a result of chronic kidney disease. Some researchers postulate that metabolic acidosis may also aggravate the ongoing kidney damage.
A clinical study on 134 patients of chronic kidney disease published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology showed that bicarbonate supplementation significantly reduced the progression of chronic kidney disease while improving the nutritional status.
The number of patients who developed the end-stage renal disease (ESRD) was lower as compared to the control group. (9)
5. Increases the efficacy of anti-cancer medications
Since cancer cells in the center of large tumors don’t get enough oxygen, lactic acid production increases (by anaerobic respiration) and consequently, cells enter a quiescent stage.
Baking soda neutralizes the acidified pH and restores cell replication. As a result, bicarbonate adjuvant improves the efficacy of anti-cancer drugs which primarily target actively replicating cells. (10)
Prolonged chemotherapy comes with many side effects, mouth and throat changes being one of the most common. To prevent this, you can rinse your mouth thrice daily with a mixture of ¼ teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon common salt in one cup of warm water followed by a rinse with plain water. (11)
6. Prevents muscular cramps and early fatigue
During prolonged and strenuous exercises, the increased oxygen demand of skeletal muscles is not met by their blood supply. Hence, they switch to anaerobic respiration resulting in high levels of lactic acid.
Low pH and increased organic acids denature proteins and also hinder metabolic reactions. Consequently, we experience fatigue and muscle cramps.
Baking soda alkalinizes the tissue pH, therefore, preventing the adverse effects of high acidity on muscles leading to better training outcome in the long run. (12)
A 2013 research article on the impact of bicarbonate loading and sports performance point out that taking baking soda before exercise improves athletic performance concerning the first one to seven minutes of strenuous exercise and prolonged physical activity with the intermittent high-intensity workout. (13)
7. Minimizes the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where you experience multiple joint pain, joint stiffening, and immobility. This occurs due to the body’s immune cells destroying self-tissue.
Sodium bicarbonate, by some neurochemical process, enhances the production of anti-inflammatory cells (M2 macrophages) as opposed to the damaging M1 macrophages.
Hence, destruction of joint tissues reduces greatly, and your symptoms improve. (14) Thus, you can get a cheap, homemade, and most importantly, effective treatment for your joint pains and other inflammatory conditions.
Precautions while using baking soda
Although baking soda is safe and non-toxic as compared to its contemporaries, its daily intake or ingesting a hefty dose of sodium bicarbonate comes with some repercussions.
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
- Bloating due to CO2 production
- Hypertension and fluid retention (edema) leading to heart failure in chronic cases due to an elevation of sodium levels
- Early fatigue and heart arrhythmia as a consequence of falling potassium levels
- Pregnant and lactating women along with kids less than six years must refrain from bicarbonate intake
- If you’re currently on certain medications like aspirin, barbiturates, calcium channel blockers, and steroids then, you must first consult your doctor before taking any baking soda preparations.
Points to take home
Baking soda has multiple uses in healthcare, beauty products, and home decor. From alleviating to your troublesome stomach pain and increasing your exercise tolerance to slowing down the spread of your cancer, sodium bicarbonate is resourceful in all aspects of healthcare.
It is added in many skin care products, toothpaste, shampoos, and even creams for bug bites. It also acts as a deodorant, has anti-inflammatory activity, removes dirt and grime from utensils, and is used as a hand softener as well.
So, next time you walk past an aisle of this seemingly unimportant white powder, take a pause, recollect this article, and make sure you test all the uses of baking soda mentioned here.