The origins of the baking soda can be traced back to somewhere in 1843. Alfred Bird was a British chemist whose wife was suffering from an allergy to yeast – a component used in foods to produce a rising effect. To develop a substitute, Bird decided to prepare a substance called baking powder (a similar substance to baking soda), which also causes a rising effect. It was only three years later, in 1846, when another company called Arm & Hammer, came up with the idea of baking soda by making a few changes to the chemical composition of baking powder. From then on, baking soda gained a lot of attention from the public and was quickly picked up by marketing companies throughout the world.
The scientific name of baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, having the chemical formula NaHCO3. It is a salt composed of the natural elements of sodium, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. A single compound of baking soda consists of two ions; the positive sodium ion and the negative bicarbonate ion. It is typically found in a solid-state, either in the form of crystals or as a fine powder. In nature, baking soda is extracted from a mineral called nahcolite, which is mined from various salt bodies.
Baking soda has been in use for several centuries in different forms. It has been found that, in the year 3500 BC, the Ancient Egyptians used a similar chemical, called natron, for a variety of purposes. However, the industrial production of baking soda was started, as mentioned, in 1846, when two bakers from New York, John Dwight and Austin Church, established a factory to develop the chemical from sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide. The production process of baking soda is known as the Solvay process.
Let us look at some of the modern-day applications of baking soda. It can be used to kill pests. If you want to clean vegetables and fruits that have been contaminated by pesticides, then you can wash them in a baking soda solution. It’s also used to remove paint and corrosion. It is a great way to disinfect bathrooms and other surfaces. Baking soda is used in a special kind of fire extinguisher, which can extinguish both electrical and gas fires. Most commonly, perhaps, it is used in cooking. The name itself is attributed to its use in baking in which it is used as a leavening agent. When mixed with an acid, baking soda reacts to it and releases carbon dioxide gas, which causes the dough to expand and rise.
Some of its properties make it useful in medical fields as well. It is perfect for some home remedies, considering how cheap it is. For example, it can be used as a natural deodorant. It is also used to treat allergic reactions to plants such as poison ivy and the stings caused by insect bites.
Baking soda is often used to remove skin flakes. Applying it daily on the part of the skin where it has been penetrated will cause the damaged skin fragment to be pulled out in a few days. It has also found a use in exfoliating the skin as well as a soaking bath. Baking soda baths also offer the benefit of relieving itchy skin caused by bites from bugs or sunburns. The chemical has been found to kill streptococcus mutant bacteria which causes tooth decay and is found in many kinds of toothpaste in tiny amounts. It also contributes to whitening the teeth. Another application of baking soda is its use as a supplement to athletes, particularly in speed-based events.
The chemical is used in treating some diseases as well, such as hyperkalemia. It is an excellent substance to alleviate problems with indigestion and pain related to ulcers. Some even have proposed it as a cure for cancer, but that is yet to be proven.