a jar of baking soda and a wooden spoon, on a table

The 15 Superpowers of Baking Soda

In the realm of versatile household staples, baking soda stands tall as a true superstar. Beyond its culinary prowess, this unassuming white powder has found its way into countless aspects of our daily lives, showcasing an impressive range of applications. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into its origins, exploring its various uses, and sharing practical tips on how to harness its full potential.


Origins and Chemistry

The Science Behind Baking Soda

Baking soda, scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate, is a compound with a fascinating chemical composition. Comprising sodium, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen molecules, baking soda’s alkaline nature makes it an invaluable ingredient with a plethora of practical uses. When exposed to acids, such as those found in certain recipes or cleaning solutions, it releases carbon dioxide gas, resulting in that familiar fizzing reaction.

Historical Roots and Culinary Beginnings

The Egyptians used natron as a soap for cleansing purposes. However, it wasn’t until 1846 that Dr. Austin Church and John Dwight began to manufacture and sell the compound we know as baking soda today. By the 1860s, baking soda was featured in published cookbooks but was still primarily known as a cooking additive. By the 1920s, however, its versatility was expanded on and by the 1930s it was widely advertised as a “proven medical agent.”


An old baking soda advert from Arm and Hammer

Credit @armandhammer.com


Baking Soda in the Kitchen: Culinary Marvels

1. Leavening Agent in Baking

Baking soda’s leavening prowess is unrivaled. When incorporated into recipes, especially those containing acidic ingredients like buttermilk or vinegar, baking soda produces carbon dioxide gas, causing dough and batter to rise. This chemical reaction results in airy, well-textured baked goods, from fluffy cakes to tender biscuits.

2. Tenderizing Meat and Poultry

Beyond its role in baking, baking soda can work wonders as a meat tenderizer. By applying it as a rub to tougher cuts of meat, you can break down protein fibers and render them more succulent when cooked. Just remember to rinse off excess baking soda before cooking to avoid altering the flavor.

3. Delectable Homemade Cleaning Agent

Baking soda’s cleaning prowess isn’t limited to countertops. Mixed with a splash of water, this humble powder transforms into a gentle abrasive cleaner. Its fine particles effectively scrub away grime, making it a go-to choice for cleaning sinks, stovetops, and even ovens. Plus, it’s safe for various surfaces, making it an eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemical cleaners.


Beyond the Kitchen: Household Applications

4. Natural Deodorizer and Air Freshener

Say goodbye to unwanted odors with the natural deodorizing power of baking soda. Place an open box in your refrigerator, closet, or shoes to absorb and neutralize unpleasant scents. You can also create DIY air fresheners by mixing it with a few drops of essential oil and placing the mixture in a decorative container.

Baking soda used as a deodorizer in a fridge

5. Multipurpose Surface Cleaner

From stubborn stains to grease buildup, baking soda shines as a versatile surface cleaner. Form a paste by mixing it with water and apply it to surfaces for effective scrubbing. Your kitchen and bathroom will gleam, all without the need for harsh chemicals.

6. Laundry Miracle Worker

Baking soda’s laundry applications are nothing short of impressive. Add a scoop to your wash cycle to boost detergent effectiveness and brighten whites. It also helps neutralize odors, making it an excellent choice for refreshing gym clothes and pet bedding.

7. Fire Extinguisher Alternative

In emergencies, baking soda can serve as a makeshift fire extinguisher for small grease fires. Its ability to release carbon dioxide when heated can smother flames by depriving them of oxygen. However, always prioritize safety and use proper fire safety equipment whenever possible.


Health, Beauty and Self-Care

8. Relief for Heartburn & Indigestion

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water to neutralize stomach acidity. However, it’s important to note that not all forms of indigestion are caused by excess acid. If your symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks without improvement, consult your doctor.
Avoid consuming it within a 2-hour window of taking other medications. The reduction in stomach acid caused by baking soda may affect the absorption rate of certain drugs and alter their effectiveness.

9. Gentle Exfoliation and Skin Cleansing

Baking soda’s fine texture makes it a gentle exfoliant for your skin. Create a paste by mixing baking soda with water and use it to gently scrub away dead skin cells. This DIY exfoliant can leave your skin feeling soft, smooth, and refreshed.

10. Shampoo Substitute for Luscious Locks

For those seeking a natural hair care alternative, baking soda can be used as a shampoo substitute. Dilute a tablespoon in water and use the solution to cleanse your scalp and hair. Follow up with a vinegar rinse to restore pH balance and leave your locks shiny and manageable.

11. Soothing Foot Soak and Odor Eliminator

Give your tired feet some much-needed TLC with a relaxing baking soda foot soak. Dissolve a few tablespoons in warm water and soak your feet for a soothing experience. Baking soda’s odor-neutralizing properties will also help combat foot odor.


Foot soaking using baking soda


12. Teeth & Gum Health

Baking soda has a mild abrasive action that helps to remove plaque and polish, clean, and deodorize your teeth. It also has antibacterial activity and has been found to kill Streptococcus mutans bacteria – a significant contributor to tooth decay. For an incredibly effective tooth and gum paste, use a mixture of six parts of it to one part of Bali sea salt. Place them in a blender and mix for 30 seconds, place in a container to use. Use a little on your toothbrush and brush normally.

Other perks: If you enjoy coffee, tea, or red wine, you know that these tasty drinks can stain your teeth. Baking soda is also your best ally here!

13. Natural Deodorant

If you want to avoid the parabens and aluminum found in many deodorants and antiperspirants, try a pinch of baking soda mixed with coconut oil or water instead. This simple paste makes an effective and simple natural deodorant. You can also simply brush some of it, dry, under your arms.


Green Gardening

14. Pest Control and Fungicide

It isn’t just for indoor use—it can also benefit your garden. A solution of baking soda and water can be used to deter pests and inhibit the growth of fungal diseases on plants. This eco-friendly approach can help protect your garden without resorting to harmful chemicals.

15. Soil pH Regulation

Maintaining the right soil pH is crucial for healthy plant growth. Baking soda can help raise soil pH levels if they are too acidic, creating a more favorable environment for a wide range of plants. However, it’s important to monitor pH levels and use it sparingly to avoid overcorrection.



Safety and Tips for Optimal Use

Proper Storage and Shelf Life

To ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your baking soda, store it in a cool, dry place away from moisture and direct sunlight. Properly sealed containers can help prevent clumping and extend its shelf life.

Precautions and Limitations

While baking soda is a versatile household essential, it’s important to use it responsibly. Avoid excessive consumption or direct skin contact, as it can be drying. Additionally, it should not be used as a long-term replacement for commercial products without considering individual needs and sensitivities.



From culinary marvel to household hero, baking soda’s versatility knows no bounds. Its time-honored role in baking has expanded to encompass an array of practical applications that enhance our daily lives in countless ways. Whether you’re whipping up delectable treats in the kitchen, freshening up your home, or exploring its beauty and gardening potential, this house’s staple stands as a testament to the power of simple, natural solutions. Embrace this timeless ingredient and unlock its endless possibilities for a cleaner, greener, and more vibrant lifestyle.