Prepare Every Needful Thing

"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear"

Home Production and Gardening–January 2014

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Uses for Baking Soda

baking-sodaIf one omits colors, fragrances and flavorings, the contents of many of our household products and toiletries are, or can be, pretty simple.  Making your own products can help you to avoid chemical exposure, save money or be prepared in an emergency.  Baking soda is a great ingredient to start with as it is versatile, cheap and readily available.  Grab one of the monster Costco bags and start experimenting!  Below are just a few uses:

  •  Antacid—1 teaspoon or less dissolved in a glass of water.
  • Toothpaste—dampen toothbrush with water or hydrogen peroxide and dip bristles in dry soda. If you are mixing up a batch, ¼ cup or so, you can also add a little xylitol or a drop of food-grade peppermint or other oil for flavor.
  • Shampoo—dissolve 1 Tablespoon of soda in ½-1 cup warm water, pour over wet hair, rub, rinse well, follow with rinse made of ¼-½ cup vinegar and  enough warm water to make one cup.
  • Soft scrub—make a paste from soda and water use on glass, stainless steel, ceramic, etc.  Don’t use more than you need to and rinse with plenty of fresh water to avoid leaving residue.
  • Burned soup, stew or sauce in the bottom of your pan?  Cover with a couple inches of water and add a generous sprinkling of baking soda.  Let pan boil until it just starts to go dry and the soda starts to crackle (watch carefully near the end!).  Many times the burned food will lift off with the dried baking soda.  If not, rinse and repeat.  I’ve saved more than one pan this way…
  • Deodorizing carpets/upholstery/shoes—sprinkle soda on smelly couches or floors or fill an old sock for problem shoes.  Leave overnight before vacuuming or removing.
  • Deodorizing laundry and boosting laundry detergent—not  all laundry is improved by baking soda, but some people report being able to cut their detergent and/or bleach usage in half after including soda in their wash water.
  • Dealing with fungal skin conditions—Fungus thrives in a relatively narrow pH range.  Too-acid or too-alkaline and it will start to die off.  For diaper rashes, athlete’s foot, and other fungal conditions use a baking soda rinse at the end of bathing or dust it on after toweling.
  • Bee stings—bee venom is acidic and the victim may find relief if a baking soda paste is rubbed over the wound.  Be sure to remove the stinger first and don’t use on wasp or hornet stings—these are alkaline and need an acid to neutralize!
  • Small kitchen fires can be extinguished by sprinkling liberally with baking soda.  The soda works by smothering the fire and you won’t risk spreading a grease fire like you would with water.  Soda is also useful when a pie or casserole bubbles over in the oven.  Cover the spill with baking soda and you can finish baking without smelling burning or risking ignition!
  • Make baking powder–¼ teaspoon baking soda + ½ teaspoon cream of tartar + ¼ teaspoon cornstarch = 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder.
  • When soaking dry beans—add ½ teaspoon of soda for every 2 cups beans for a sweeter flavor and quicker softening.
  • Oral Rehydration Solution—1 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ cup sugar, 1 quart water OR ½ teaspoon honey, ½ teaspoon baking soda, pinch of salt, 1 cup fruit juice, 1 cup water.  Adults 1 quart per hour/Children 1 cup per hour – until rehydrated.
  • Neutralize acidic food—tomato sauces, berry or rhubarb pies, etc may be improved or require less sugar if you add a pinch of baking soda.
  • Unblock minor plumbing clogs—toilet clogs may be cleared with a liberal sprinkling of baking soda, a good squirt of dish soap and 20-30 minutes.  Many times, that’s enough to make it slip through with a flush.  Some people swear that sink clogs can be eliminated by the bubbling action of dry soda sprinkled into the drain washed down with vinegar.  Be sure to rinse well with lots of cold to warm water afterwards.  Baking soda can become rock-like if allowed to remain!
  • ¼ cup baking soda added to fruit-blanching water is supposed to help remove stubborn skins.
  • For St Patrick’s Day—when boiling corned beef, add ¼ teaspoon soda for each pound of beef to improve the color and flavor of the meat. Cabbage and other vegetables can be cooked in the same water without becoming dark or slimy.
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