All about baking soda: history, surprising uses and what it can and can not do for your health
You probably keep a box of baking soda in your refrigerator and you take it out every time you have to make cakes for your family. You may have taken it during a stomach ache or cleaned your laundry with it.
And you may have even combined baking soda and vinegar in a science project at school long ago. (Spoiler: It “explodes” while bubbling.) Baking soda is a staple in virtually every home, but what do you really know about this seemingly simple ingredient?
What is baking soda and how has it become the staple of today’s households?
Baking soda is an alkaline white powder that is ubiquitous in modern kitchens. His rise is largely attributed to a great brand. In 1846, two brothers-in-law, Austin Church and John Dwight, teamed up to distribute baking soda.
The product, made in Dwight’s kitchen, was called Arm & Hammer Church & Co. Baking Soda. In 1860, Arm & Hammer wanted to show the public how versatile the ingredient was.
They started distributing mini-cookbooks, with recipes for bread, cakes, cookies, puddings and more, including some family recipes. (Want to see the 34th edition?) Click here .) Curiously, “Do not buy baking powder” was one of the sections presented! ( 2 )
In the 1920s, Arm & Hammer was advertised in women’s magazines to raise awareness of its popularity. (1) According to the company, it was in 1972 that all over the world, people started putting a box of baking soda in their fridge to keep it cool.
When used in baking, baking soda acts as a chemical leaven, producing carbon dioxide in response to an acid (such as vinegar), which produces bubbles that help the cake or biscuit to be tender, moist and mellow.
How is baking soda made exactly?
Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate, an ingredient that began 4 million years ago when salt lakes around the world evaporated and formed trona deposits.
Trona is rock turned into sodium carbonate, a natural mineral. The sodium bicarbonate can then be converted into baking soda. The world’s largest trona deposit is in Wyoming. The region produced 17 million tonnes of ore in 2015 for export worldwide.
What does baking soda contain?
Sodium bicarbonate is the only ingredient found in baking soda.
What baking soda can do for your health
One warning though: Baking soda is high in sodium. Only ½ teaspoon contains 629 mg of sodium. Considering that guidelines recommend not to consume more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, half a teaspoon of baking soda will provide about one quarter of that limit.
It is recommended that you do not take baking soda or sodium bicarbonate for more than two weeks without the consent of your doctor. (6)
In some research, it is possible that the consumption of baking soda helps with workout. A small study of 13 young men found that those who drank a baking soda solution before an intense intermittent workout improved their performance, reduced fatigue, and felt they did not work as hard as those who did. did not take any.
The authors say that the effects are comparable to those of caffeine consumption before exercise. Other research indicates that it can also strengthen strength-based exercises, helping you gain a few extra reps in the process.
Finally, baking soda can be a valuable weapon against autoimmune conditions in the future. Research shows that, once consumed, the antacid action of baking soda can help transfer pro-inflammatory immune cells from the body to benefit those fighting inflammation, which could one day help treat diseases . ( 1 , 2 )
What baking soda absolutely can not do for your health
Baking soda is one of the ingredients that people claim as a panacea against a variety of health problems and diseases. But the truth is that few research supports big claims, such as the idea that it’s a cure for cancer.
Yet this does not mean that cancer patient can treat their condition at home or avoid traditional treatments. On the one hand, this research is in its infancy – it only concerns mice.
More research is needed in humans to determine what effect baking soda can have. At this point, it is too difficult to say definitively that baking soda is a treatment for cancer.
Can baking soda help you lose weight?
There are no studies to suggest that baking soda can stimulate metabolism or cause your body to burn more fat.
But there are so many factors that go into the relationship between exercise and weight loss. So baking soda is not something you can rely on to make a big difference.
What are the surprising uses of baking soda?
Baking soda is considered a versatile product for a good reason. Here are some of its many uses.
As a wash product
Forget the expensive and delicate products on the market. A simple baking soda and immersion in water for 12 to 15 minutes is enough to remove 80 and 96% of some pesticides from apples, which is better than tap water alone or bleach. Baking soda helps degrade some pesticides to eliminate them. ( 5 )
As a natural cleaner
A mixture of baking soda and water can be used as an effective and non-abrasive cleaner.
One use: wipe food residues in the interior of a refrigerator. ( 6 ) You can also sprinkle baking soda in sewers with hot water to clean your pipes.
Baking soda can also clean your baths, sinks and shower curtain, and eliminate scuff marks from the floors. ( 7 ) Oh, and do not forget, it’s a first rate deodorant!
For extra freshness, sprinkle baking soda on a carpet, let it stand for a moment and vacuum.
To safely clean pots and pans
When cooked food is stuck to the pan, the American Cleaning Institute recommends adding baking soda to the pan, filling with hot water and soaking for 15 to 30 minutes. Baking soda will help lift the stuck food pieces. ( 8 )
To wash clothes
Adding half a cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle will refresh clothes – without all the chemicals in other products.
To help relieve heartburn
For occasional bouts of heartburn, add ½ teaspoon to ½ cup of water and drink. The alkaline baking soda will neutralize the excess of acid.
Treat insect bites
Instead of looking for a hydrocortisone cream, you can find relief by applying a paste of baking soda (mix it with a little water until you get the consistency wanted) several times a day, suggests the Mayo Clinic. ( 9 )
To take care of your teeth during pregnancy
Gastric acid associated with vomiting can wear tooth enamel. If you have occasional or regular vomiting, rinse your mouth with 1 tsp. teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water. ( 10 ) You can also do this when the illness (such as food poisoning) causes vomiting.
Treating Nail Infections
If you have a mild nail infection, you may want to consider a bath of baking soda and water because baking soda has anti-fungal properties.
Relieving discomfort during cancer treatment
Mixing a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of salt and a liter of water can help relieve sore throats caused by radiation or chemotherapy. This mixture can also help prevent infection of wounds in the mouth. Just be sure to gargle the solution – do not swallow it, says the American Cancer Society. ( 11 )
Side Effects and Health Risks Related to Baking Soda
There are some issues to keep in mind when over-consuming baking soda such as:
- Applying long-term to teeth can erode tooth enamel, for example by combining baking soda with an acid as a self-made stain remover ( 12).
- An overload of sodium can cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as more serious problems such as seizures and kidney failure.
- When used as an antacid, it can aggravate gastrointestinal problems if it produces too much gas.
- Alarmingly, in rare cases, taking it after eating a large meal can cause stomach upset. The National Capital Anti-Poison Center recommends sticking to safer products like the Tums.
Finally, because of its sodium content, be sure to consult your doctor before taking if you have high blood pressure. ( 26 )