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Monday Health & Wellness: Baking Soda

admin July 11, 2011

 

Most people use baking soda for, well…baking.  Isn’t that what it’s meant to be used for?  But truly, there are so many more uses for baking soda than that!  It’s some pretty amazing stuff.

We use a lot of it around here, for a variety of different purposes.  Today I want to explain some of the major purposes for baking soda!

Why Use Baking Soda?

Baking soda is a non-toxic substance: sodium bicarbonate.  It is abrasive, it dissolves easily in water, and it is safe to use internally or externally.  It is even safe on babies!  It is also incredibly cheap: a 1-lb. box might cost around $0.50!

Major uses for baking soda:

  • Brushing teeth/making toothpaste
  • Cleaning around the house
  • Alkalizing the body
  • Detoxing the body (use in a bath)
  • Washing hair
  • Helping bug bites/itchy skin rashes

Did you know about all those uses?

To clean, baking soda can be dumped onto any surface (directly or onto a sponge) and used to scrub the surface.  Or, mix with water, lemon juice, or castile soap to form a paste and clean with that.  Some say using it as a paste is safer, because the dust getting into your lungs isn’t so good.

It is possible to use a paste of castile soap and baking soda to brush your teeth, or use a recipe for homemade toothpaste instead.

Drinking 1/2 tsp. baking soda mixed into a small amount of warm water is also a good thing; it can help to alkalize the body and detox.  In some cases this protocol has also been used to prevent or cure cancer!

Add some baking soda (about 1 c.) to a warm bath and dissolve; it will help remove detox symptoms and soothe itchy skin rashes.

We use baking soda to wash our hair.  It can help soothe dandruff, and it gets hair clean without chemicals.  It also is safe and tear-free for the little ones.  (Yeah, my kids will dump it on their heads themselves now!)  It has seemed to make my hair thicker.  I mix mine about 1 part baking soda to 2 parts water, with 4 – 6 drops of grapefruit essential oil in it, in an old shampoo bottle.  This mixture cleans our hair nicely and we do not need any additional products — not even the apple cider vinegar that most say they need.  My hair, despite having been oily most of my life, never looks greasy now, even if I go 4 – 5 days without washing!  And this, despite the summer heat and pregnancy hormones.  I highly recommend giving it a try!

Mixing baking soda and water to make a paste can help to soothe itchy skin and bug bites, and some say draw out the poison.  It’s worth a try after bee stings, mosquito bites, and more!

What are your favorite uses for baking soda?

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20 Comments

  1. I use baking soda to wash my hair but I use a different ratio. I mix mine in an old dish soap bottle because I really like the caps and the ability to squirt the "shampoo" out. I use about 3Tbsp of baking soda and then I fill up the bottle with hot water and shake to combine. The bottle is 22oz. I also use an apple cider vinegar and water combo on the ends of my hair to help detangle.

    I started the "no poo" thing slow. The first month I did it every other day. The next month I added another day of no poo. And so one…. Nowadays I wash my hair with a naturoli soapnut shampoo bar once a week and use the no poo for the other 6.

    Sidenote: I too was a fine haired person who ended up with a greasy scalp by evening and had to wash every single MORNING (not night!) in order to avoid greasy hair before this. My hair isn't like that now. I notice A LOT less grease.

    If anyone is afraid of the "transition" I highly recommend stepping it out like that because it makes it all a lot easier.

    Also, don't be afraid to play around with the baking soda to water ratios that work for you. Everyone's hair is different.

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  2. I'd like to switch to the no 'poo method – but have heard it doesn't work well with hard water. Has anyone tried it? What tips do you have?

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  3. The 'no poo' method didn't work for me. I started when I was pregnant and it dried my scalp out… Maybe I wasn't using the right ratio?

    I use baking soda for cleaning and removing odor… And baking, of course! 🙂

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  4. Amanda,

    We do have hard water but I have never had a problem with it. You could try it and see how it works for you! It may be that you need some essential oils in the mix (I do) or to use the apple cider vinegar as a rinse after.

    Jenni,

    Try a different ratio. I always had oily hair and now my hair is actually almost like lamb's wool, it doesn't look greasy but it feels very…moisturized? Some people can't handle more than 1 part baking soda to 9 parts water! So definitely try adjusting and see what happens. Doing it less often will help, too, only once or twice a week instead of everyday. Occasional hot-oil treatments (with avocado oil or another natural oil) could help too, if your hair is really dry.

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  5. I tried the baking soda shampoo / vinegar rinse method last year and gave it up after a month, since my hair was just awful looking. Felt heavy and greasy. Might try a new recipe and try again. Also, is there another name for this method? I hate the term "no poo."

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  6. Rebecca,
    Sometimes I just say "baking soda shampoo". I gave up on my first try too because I also thought my hair looked awful. From what I read, that is because your hair can go through a couple months of "adjusting" where it is still making too much oil because it is used to shampoo stripping so much away.

    You might try every other day (one day baking soda, the next day shampoo) for a while and then gradually use baking soda more days between shampoo as you feel comfortable. That's what I did, adding one baking soda day between shampoo at a time. Honestly didn't think I would ever get much further than using baking soda 2 days and then shampoo 1, but I only use "real shampoo" once a week now. What I did was add another day of baking soda in my 'pattern' each month so this is about 6months-ish into it. I am totally a baby step person.

    Also, sometimes my hair feels "heavy" when I don't get all the baking soda out, so you may have been using too much or not rinsing enough. I hope that helps.

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  7. We use baking soda A LOT around here, too. I use it for most of the things you listed – although I hadn't heard of the soothing skin rash thing, neat! I'll have to try that. I use it to brush my teeth with often, other times I use coconut oil. I also use baking soda as a natural exfoliant for my face at night. I only use a tiny bit, but I love how it feels! I've been wanting to try it as an alternative for shampoo, but have been afraid of the transition phase, so I'll have to try what the first commenter suggested, and just start very slowly replacing my shampoo. My family teases me for it, but I don't know what I would do without baking soda and coconut oil, I use them for everything! 🙂

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  8. Be sure to use aluminum-free baking soda at least for baking and brushing teeth. Bob's Red Mill carries aluminum-free soda. Because it is more expensive, I use rubber gloves when using the "orange box" stuff for cleaning.

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  9. Some quick research tells me that baking soda really doesn't contain aluminum. It is pure sodium bicarbonate and nothing else. It may, however, be extracted by a chemical process, or created through one, which could leave other undesirable residues in it. But the "aluminum free" part is really just clever marketing to confuse people and charge more for a very similar product (though Bob's is not chemically extracted).

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  10. I tried the no poo method for washing my hair. I did not like the feel of my hair. It was course and not very manageable. I wash my hair once or twice a week normally, so I didn't have the oil overload that people get when they are used to washing their hair with shampoo every day. I have curly hair and I didn't feel that blow drying and straightening it with a flat iron was good for it when not using shampoo. If I use a product to help with the curl it doesn't really wash out with baking soda. I can't handle frizzy, unruly, nasty looking hair on myself. I was mostly switching to the no poo method to see if it would help with my ridiculously dry scalp. I don't think it made a difference. I think my problem is a calcium deficiency which leads to dry skin (and therefore dry scalp). I don't think the no poo method was terrible, it just wasn't for me.
    From what I have read, baking soda can become contaminated with aluminum during processing. Bob's Red Mill doesn't have this issue. You can also get baking soda in bulk from azurestandard.com and it is aluminum free. Baking soda will not have it listed as an ingredient because it isn't an ingredient, it is contaminated during processing.

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  11. I'm jealous that your hair doesn't get greasy anymore! I have been using baking soda to wash my hair for more than year. I still have to wash my hair every morning or it looks terrible. I have always had really oily skin and hair so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, but I do feel like I'm missing out a bit when people talk about how they only have to wash their hair every few days. Oh well! I love how baking soda is so inexpensive and natural. I buy mine at Costco in 10 lb (or maybe more?) bags.

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  12. Wait, I thought it was Baking POWDER that you were supposed to try to find the no-aluminum version of? Not Baking SODA. I am confused now…

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  13. I second Rebecca…..I am confused now too….

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  14. I'm curious as to why you add the essential oil to the shampoo use. Is the essential oil necessary? or just added for the fragrance? I need to avoid fragrance due to a family member's allergy so if it's needed do you have any suggestions as to what I can use in place of it?

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  15. Jodi,

    Not all people need it, it helps to clarify and clean my hair. But essential oils are not the same as fragrance oils so perhaps a family member would not react? Unless they are allergic to the particular plant they should not.

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  16. Here is an article about making baking soda. http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Baking-Soda.html
    Most manufacturers process it chemically in aluminum machinery, allowing it to leach into the product. This is what Bob's Red Mill said about their baking soda: Our Baking Soda is from Sodium Bicarbonate which is naturally occurring in northwestern Colorado. In the mining process, water is used to extract the sodium bicarbonate and no chemicals are used. A closed loop process leaves the community and its surrounding virtually untouched. So it seems that is a much better baking soda for you regardless of the aluminum issue.

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  17. Does the essential oil HAVE to be grapefruit or can you use a different essential oil? Is there any special reason to use grapefruit?

    Sorry, I know this started out as an everything baking soda post but is now a baking soda shampoo post! I guess that's what we have the most questions about!

    Also, I am still not super clear if I should be concerned that I use the Arm & Hammer baking soda to shampoo my hair……

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  18. I *LOVE* baking soda "shampoo" – best use for it in my opinion!
    LIB
    http://bit.ly/obLcAH

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  19. I was just wondering about the grapefruit seed essential oil. I just purchased grapefruit seed extract, not realizing it wasn't the same thing. Will this work, too? Does anyone know the actual difference between these two products?
    Thank you.

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  20. For Laura, you might want to try using just conditioner to wash your hair instead of shampoo. Curly hair tends to absorb stuff much more than straight hair based off of the hair shaft itself, and so if you're using products to help your curly hair stay manageable, conditioner would work better. I used conditioner to stop using shampoo – I just condition my hair in the shower (I massage/try to foam it in as if I were shampooing, then leave it in while I wash my body) and it will clean just as good as shampoo. I truly mean that – conditioner WILL clean out your hair just as well as shampoo. I have conditioned hair with mousse and hairspray in it, and even pomades, and they all come out. I promise. Plus you aren't using Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, although there are still a list of ingredients.

    For me, conditioner makes life easier because a majority of my showers are in public gym bathrooms and that way you're still using a mainstream product. I know, peer pressure shouldn't be why I use my personal care products, but it makes life easier. Plus it helps for when I'm deployed and can't get baking soda…I can get conditioner. Every few weeks to months, I do baking soda my hair (add just enough water to make a paste or slurry, depending on how fast the water comes out) and rinse, then condition.

    I have very hard water and usually have problems with getting all of the baking soda rinsed out of my hair, which ends up making me feel dandruffy for a day but it makes my hair feel much less oily. For anyone who had trouble switching to just baking soda cold turkey, try switching from shampoo to conditioner and then, if desired, from conditioner to baking soda. Brushing your hair often during the transition times will also help a lot as it will distribute the oil your hair is producing over the entire length of your hair instead of keeping it pooled at the scalp. Natural fiber brushes will distribute best, but even a cheap plastic brush will distribute oils. It will make a huge difference, especially if you take the time to brush at least three times (in the morning when you wake up, midday, and before bed) for more than it takes to just detangle. Brush at least two or three times as long as you need to for detangling purposes and you'll start to notice that your hair is looking better.

    I have been shampoo-free since the end of February. Five months later, my hair looks healthier than ever before, I have infinitely fewer broken/split ends and flyaways, and my husband tells me regularly that my hair looks the best it ever has since we've known each other (we've known each other for 6 years now). He also loves the feel of it and the fact that it's way less tangled than it ever used to be so he can run his hands through it without hitting snags. Plus my showers are faster than ever (although I work out and, therefore, shower at least five times a week)…so I'm spending less on water…a benefit all around!

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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