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All you need is a little baking soda

By Toi N. Degree
Family & Consumer Education Agent

While talking to a church member Sunday and his telling me of his monthly ritual of using baking soda to clean the drain, it dawned on me the many many uses of baking soda.

There are so many that you may not have ever heard of them all. So I set out on a quest to find some that you may not know for one of the most versatile and effective tools in your household arsenal.

First things first: What is baking soda? Baking soda, a sodium bicarbonate, is a naturally occurring substance that is present in all living things — it helps living things maintain the pH balance necessary for life.

Baking soda is made from soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate. The soda ash is obtained in one of two ways: It can be manufactured by passing carbon dioxide and ammonia through a concentrated solution of sodium chloride (table salt).

Whether the soda ash is mined or processed, it is dissolved into a solution through which carbon dioxide is bubbled, and sodium bicarbonate precipitates out, forming “pure, safe and natural” baking soda. It is pure enough (more than 99 percent) to be listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) since 1848.

How can baking soda do so much, so well? It is the natural chemical and physical properties of baking soda that account for its many safe and effective uses.

Now on to its uses.

Cleaning coffee and tea pots: Remove those coffee and tea stains and eliminate bitter off-tastes by washing coffee maker parts and coffee and tea pots in a solution of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. For stubborn stains, try soaking overnight in the baking soda solution and detergent. You can even remove the unsightly stains from your favorite cups and mugs by sprinkling baking soda on a sponge and scrubbing the stains away.

Fruit and vegetable scrub: Baking soda is the food safe way to clean dirt and residue off fresh fruit and vegetables. Just sprinkle on a damp sponge and scrub. Then rinse. Bon appetite!

Removing scuff marks: Get rid of those scuff marks on your no-wax floor. Just sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge, rub clean and rinse. Baking soda will remove the scuff mark, but will not scratch your floor.

Facial scrub: Try baking soda as an invigorating, yet gentle, facial scrub. Apply a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water in a gentle circular motion after washing face with soap and water. Rinse clean for a fresh-scrubbed face.

Clean your combs and brushes: You can get rid of oil buildup and residue from your combs or brushes simply by adding baking soda. Soak the combs or brushes in a solution of baking soda and water. You’ll need a single tablespoon of the sodium bicarbonate, and allow 15 minutes or so for the mixture to take effect. Let them dry out on a towel afterward.

In the garage: Oil or gas leaks – sprinkle a mixture of baking soda and salt over the spill. Let it soak for a while to absorb and simply sweep it up.

Dry baths for dogs: Help your dog stay fresh smelling by giving them periodic dry baths. Rub dry baking soda into their fur, then comb or brush it through and out. The baking soda is non-toxic and safe for use around your dog. It is a quick way to a fresh dog.

These are just a few things that I found that I thought may be new to you and would be helpful to you all.  There are still tons of other uses for baking soda. What’s more, it is an eco-friendly and toxin-free substance — so you need not worry about any harmful effect that may impact your home.

Baking soda is by far the best and least expensive cleaning agent, yet is the most versatile.  If you are looking for more uses of baking soda visit: http://www.armandhammer.com/solutions.aspx

Toi N. Degree, family and consumer education agent, Rowan County Cooperative Extension Service, at 704-216-8970 or e-mail toi_degree@ncsu.edu.

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