Bob Roland: Message from the front, sir.
Rufus T. Firefly: Oh, I’m sick of messages from the front. Don’t we ever get a message from the side? – What is it?
Bob Roland: General Smith reports a gas attack. He wants to know what to do.
Rufus T. Firefly: Tell him to take a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda and a half a glass of water.
Groucho Marx, Duck Soup, 1933.
Sodium bicarbonate, bicarb, cooking soda, bicarbonate of soda are all the same thing; a type of salt made from sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. It appears in it’s natural form dissolved in some mineral springs. It is cheap and you can even get it packaged in cardboard. It is a perfect alternative to branded products to consider for a plastic free life. It is not baking soda (which contains it with other ingredients so may work but not as well as pure bicarb).
I asked for hints and tips over on the brilliant Facebook group A Make Do and Mend life for advice and it looks like bicarb is good at everything! In about half an hour all these tips came up, along with a couple of recipes.
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Cleaning uses for Bicarbonate of Soda
- To scrub the oven (it needs scrubbing on a weekly basis) (Anna)
- Removing tea stains from mugs (Anna)
- Restoring whiteness in clothes, sheets etc (Anna)
- I use bicarb instead of washing powder (Jennie)
- Bicarb and banana peels work to polish silver (Kara)
- I use it to freshen carpets (Jennie)
- To deodorise trainers (Jennie)
- Scouring powder. It’s actually recommended for cleaning the top of my stove because it doesn’t scratch the enamel (Victoria)
- I also use it with a aluminium foil tray and boiling water to dip silver (and it’s better than chemical silver dip, take it from me, I sell silver jewellery in my shop, and I have literally thousands of pieces to keep clean) (Jennie)
Jennie’s Recipe for silver dip:
You need: Aluminium foil or a foil tray. 2tsp of bicarbonate of soda, 1/2 tsp salt. Boiling water.
Line a glass baking dish with aluminium foil, or use a aluminium foil tray. Put the silver in the dish (it must all be in contact with the foil). Put about two tbsp bicarbonate of soda and 1/2 tsp salt in the tray, then add about 2cm boiling water (if your silver items are large, increase quantities so it is all submerged). It will fizz, leave for a few minutes, then rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.
Cooking uses for Bicarbonate of Soda
- I use bicarb as a substitute for eggs when baking (Anna)
Personal care uses for Bicarbonate of Soda
- In homemade deodorant and toothpaste (Anna)
- I use it in my homemade deodorant (Jennie)
- I was told it’s great for insect stings and sunburn but have not try this (Anna)
Anna’s recipe for bath bombs
You need: 5 heaped tbsp coconut oil, essential oil or lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda, cornflower. Citric acid if you want fizz
Melt 5 heaped tbsp of coconut oil, add essential oils of your choice (or rose petals, or juice of half a lemon – my favourite). Next start adding bicarb and cornflour spoon by spoon (1 spoon of bicarb to 1 spoon of cornflour) until you get a consistency of a thick shortcrust pastry, it needs to be quite firm. Roll into golf ball size, leave to set for few hours and store in a jar away from heat and sunlight. This will give you probably 7-8 bombs. I use only one at a time, the amount of oil is sufficient to really moisturise the skin and both bicarb and cornflour make skin really soft too. They don’t fizz mind you but slowly melt in the bath. Stored correctly they easily keep for 2-3 months.
Victoria said if you mix it with citric acid, you get fizzy bath bombs, but you can also just use it as bath salts, maybe with a bit of essential oils mixed in. Makes the water feel nice and “soft”.
Other Bicarb resources: