All about Bicarbonate of Soda

aka Bicarb Soda, Baking Soda

The first thing I think about when I see Bi-Carb Soda is Bath Bombs! However, there was a time when it was used in the kitchen and laundry in every home.

First, let’s look at why it’s in Bath Bombs. Have you ever wondered why Bath Bombs fizz? Although great fun, there is chemistry behind the fizzing.

When you drop a Bath Bomb into the bathtub and it begins to dissolve in the water there is a reaction between the acid part and the alkaline part of the Bomb. The main two components are Citric Acid and Bicarbonate of Soda (aka Bi-Carb or Baking Soda). Citric Acid is used in cordials and other foods, and it is also used to balance the pH in shampoos and other skincare products. Sodium Bicarbonate is used in the kitchen, laundry and to soften the bath water.

The result of this reaction is a salt called Sodium Citrate. When you drop the bath bomb into the water in the course of the reaction, Carbon Dioxide is released – this is the bubble and fizz! The reaction causes the bubbles you see, much like carbonated soft drinks such as Soda Water and when you dissolve a soluble aspirin tablet in water. Alka Seltzer Tablets use this same principle (if you can remember taking these when you had an upset stomach).

We thought alongside our Green Cleaning Pack it would be useful to offer more suggestions on the use of amazing Bicarbonate of Soda! Long before the invention of Bath Bombs and Bath Bombs, this white powder is something that every kitchen or laundry had a small box of tucked away. Bi-carb Soda is environmentally friendly, economical and a must-have product in your home, even if you don’t make Bath Bombs! You’ll be amazed at its myriad of uses – an effective, no-fuss alternative to expensive, over-packaged and commercial products. But, what is Bi-carb Soda?

It is a salt and a weak alkaline powder that neutralises acids (that’s why washing your hair with bi-carb isn’t a good idea because it’s so alkaline). Bi-carb Soda is made from soda ash (or sodium bicarbonate) which occurs naturally in our environment. The soda ash is mined and then refined to form a safe, pure product you can trust is safe.

It’s also known as Baking Soda if you read American (USA) articles or recipes, just a heads up on that, oh, and Corn Starch is Corn Flour in Australia, another confusing name change. So, if you wish to use less commercial cleaning products in your home and workplace, here are more uses you may not have heard of:

  • Deodorising: Fridges – The fact that dishwasher tablets contain Bi-carb Soda tells us that it is not only alkaline, but helps neutralise odours and leave dishes smelling fresh. A bowl or jar in the fridge will help absorb odours such as onions and cabbage Replace every 3 months or so
  • Deodorising: The Sneaker Zone – Well, you know what sneakers smell of! Lemongrass Essential Oil or Litsea (May Chang) also might be required to deal with this one. You can wash the sneakers if possible, and dust liberally inside and then shake or vacuum out. I leave in for a week if possible. One customer uses an old pair of panty hose to hold the Bi-carb/lemongrass mixture to make it cleaner for removal
  • Deodorising: Chopping Boards – Soak chopping boards or cleaning cloths which have become a bit on the nose due to onions or fish etc in a medium strength solution of Bi-carb and hot water
  • Deodorising: Kitty Litter Trays – sprinkle amongst the litter, or in the base, to help absorb odours
  • Deodorising: Pet Areas/Beds – Sprinkle over bedding and then vacuum well, again if possible leave on for at least a day
  • Deodorising: Carpets – Sprinkle over the carpet or rugs and leave for a couple of hours prior to vacuuming to remove odours and freshen them
  • Cleaning: Bi-carb Soda on a damp cloth removes stains from bench tops, helps shift soap scum from showers and baths (and as soapers we know it’s worth having to deal with that scum!) and rust from sinks and under dripping taps
  • Cleaner: Abrasive Cleaner – Make a paste of Bi-carb and water (as required) and use to remove stubborn stains in coffee mugs, on cookware (beware of pots and pans that recommend no abrasive cleaner should be used in their care). Some tough wall paints will also tolerate a light clean with this to remove scuff marks and crayon marks – make a more watery mixture for this application. Scuff marks on tiled floors can often be removed with a stiff mixture of Bi-carb Soda and water
  • Cleaner: Cookware – Stubborn “crusty” cookware (such as baking pans and those pots you never quite get clean), Rinse pan or pot with water and empty (so it’s damp) and sprinkled liberally with fine salt and Bi-carb mixture and a squeeze of lemon juice. Allow to sit an hour or so. Then with gloves on, scrub! If it’s really stuck, leave the mixture in the pot, and heat slowly on the cook top and when hot add more Bi-carb, and use a brush to really scrub to clean!
  • Cleaning: Silverware: Damp a wad of micro-cloth or sponge rub gently on silver cutlery to bring back the shine. Do take care to spot test, as this is a mild abrasive, and if valuable silver is very tarnished you may require a specialised tarnish remover
  • Air Freshener: Absorbing odours – Along with Pot Pourri, you can also make an air freshener spray. 2 cups Distilled Water, 1/3 cup Bi-carb Soda and 5mls Lemon or Distilled Lime Essential Oil. Remember there is no solubiliser in this so you will need to shake before each use. You can add a solubiliser such as Polysorbate 20 or CCG Surfactant to ensure the oil is dispersed more evenly. Use 5mls of either solubiliser in this blend.
  • pH Balance: Neutraliser – If you have an acidic solution and with to neutralise it, use a pH Strip and some Bi-carb to achieve a neutral pH.

We have a Green Cleaning Pack which you can purchase here.

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