10 Ingenious Unexpected Uses for Baking Soda
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Try it: Add a little baking soda (about half a teaspoon for every three eggs) to your next omelet and lightly mix it in before cooking.
Why it works: Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks, says baking soda decomposes into carbon dioxide and water when heated, which introduces tons of little bubbles into the eggs making them puff up.
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Try it: When soaking dry beans, mix in about 1/16 teaspoon baking soda per quart of water and soak as usual. You can do the same with canned beans by adding baking soda to the liquid in the can and letting them sit for a few hours. Whichever beans you start with, be sure to dump the liquid before you cook them and give them a quick rinse.
Why it works: Beans contain raffinose, a sugar that our bodies cannot break down, producing gas, says Kathleen London, M.D., family medicine physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Baking soda helps reduce the levels of raffinose in beans, stopping the bloat before it starts.
Try it: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda completely into 1/2 glass water and drink. It will get the job done in the short term, says Dr. London, but it needs to be dosed every four hours and is not great for long-term use.
Why it works: Baking soda is naturally basic and helps neutralize stomach acid.
Keep in mind: You should not use this if you have kidney problems, low calcium or iron, high sodium or liver disease, says Dr. London.
Try it: Sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the areas of the battery where the acid has leaked out. If you see bubbles, wait until the bubbles stop. Wearing chemical resistant gloves (like neoprene or vinyl) and safety goggles, scrub off any extra acid with an old damp toothbrush and wipe away any liquid with a disposable cloth.
Why it works: "Think back to childhood when you mixed baking soda with vinegar," says Jeffrey Vinokur, a bioenergy researcher with a masters degree in biochemistry from UCLA. "The vinegar (acetic acid) was neutralized and in the process it made bubbles. Same process for your car battery. Sprinkle it on, the acid will bubble as it is neutralized. When it stops bubbling you neutralized all the acid."
Keep in mind: Always wear protective gear when handling battery acid. Also, if you do have an acid leak, it may be time to see a mechanic.
Try it (if you have to): If you don't have a fire extinguisher and can't get access to water (or if you have a small grease fire, which you should never throw water on) dump as much baking soda as you can on the flames.
Why it works: "When baking soda is heated, it decomposes and releases carbon dioxide gas. That is the same gas in CO2 fire extinguishers," says Vinokur.
Keep in mind: "While throwing baking soda on a fire can put it out, you will need a whole box to put out a tiny stovetop fire," Vinokur says. "This should really be your last-ditch effort, not your first."
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Try it: Add two handfuls of baking soda to a standard-sized bathtub (which holds about 50 gallons) and bathe as usual.
Why it works: When the pH of water increases, it allows for better removal of the outer dead skin layer and leaves your skin feeling smoother and less itchy, says Dr. Jacob.
Try it: Line a pan with aluminum foil and add in your tarnished silver, being sure that the silver is touching the aluminum. In a separate pan or kettle, heat water to a boil. After it's boiling, add one cup baking soda per gallon. Then, pour the water and baking soda mixture over the silver until it is covered. Depending on the level of tarnish, you may need to repeat the process.
Why it works: When silver combines with sulfur, it creates a thin layer of silver sulfide, which we see as "tarnish", says Rodney Schreiner, Senior Scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chemistry Department. Baking soda assists in a chemical reaction that transfers the sulfur from the silver to the aluminum.
Try it: Dissolve baking soda into a cup of warm water. Dip a cotton swab into the water and apply it to the affected area.
Why it works: Baking soda helps neutralize the acids responsible for your tooth pain.
Keep in mind: This is just a temporary fix. If you're experiencing tooth pain, you should schedule an appointment with dentist.
Try it: Randy Schueller, cosmetic chemist and co-founder of The Beauty Brains, suggests mixing baking soda, citric acid and some essential oils into your next bath: "It makes for a great, fizzy bathtub experience."
Why it works: The citric acid and baking soda combination utilizes the same acid-and-base reaction behind the well-known grade-school volcano project to create thousands of tiny bubbles to fill your bathtub.
Try it: Flip your head upside-down and scoop a little baking soda into your hand. Distribute through your hair evenly, then brush until no powder is visible.
Why it works: Dry shampoos contain powders, like baking soda, to freshen the hair and scalp and eliminate "water-soluble gunk" like sweat, says Schueller.