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Q & A: Uses of Baking Soda

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
What is baking soda used for?
- Jareth
Pana Junior High , Pana, IL , USA
A:
Hi Jareth!
Well, the obvious answer is "Baking soda is used in baking," but I'm pretty sure that isn't what you're looking for.
Another name for baking soda is "Sodium Bicarbonate" and it is used in a lot of chemical reactions - baking soda is pretty easy to react with other chemicals.

For fun, here's one that you can try at home:
Take about a tablespoon of baking soda, put it in a bowl, and add about a quarter cup of vinegar. Watch what happens.
If you want to try more with this reaction, try "Activity One" here:http://www.wvu.edu/~exten/infores/pubs/fypubs/wl290.pdf (requires a PDF reader)

-Sara

Of course this is a lot of fun to do, but there are many more reasons why people buy baking soda. Some people use it to clean up and deodorize kitchens and bathrooms. One manufacturer of baking soda recommends putting an open box in the fridge to remove odors. Some people sprinkle it in cat litter to lessen the smell. Others use it in toothpaste, and people add it to laundry detergent. Some people add it to pool water to help it be more clear. The idea behind all of these uses is mostly the same. Baking soda neutralizes acids, which are often the causes of bad odors. Cat urine in particular is really stinky and acidic, and so is vinegar. After the reaction with baking soda, the salts that result are less noisome. One very popular use of baking soda is to neutralize a portion of one's stomach acid. Having lots of extra stomach acid can lead to damage in the esophagus as some of it is regurgitated. Neutralizing it with baking soda helps relieve the pain of heartburn (which really has nothing to do with the heart and everything to do with acid coming back up from the stomach). Calcium carbonate is a popular heartburn relief agent which works the same way, and also supplies calcium, which is lacking in many people's diets, while sodium is usually found in excess in people's diets. As with all medications, please check the instructions on the box before ingesting any. You may also burp (try the vinegar experiment above to see why).

Tom

(published on 10/22/2007)

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