21 Prepper Uses for Baking Soda

by Vern Evans

December 30 is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, and what better way to enjoy the day than by learning about all the uses for baking soda, an essential housekeeping and preparedness item?

Baking soda (NaCO3) is also known as sodium bicarbonate, and there are a few different manufacturing methods. The Leblanc process was the first one developed for use on an industrial scale. It manufactured baking soda using common materials such as sea salt, sulfuric acid, limestone, and charcoal and was widely used in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, it released huge amounts of hydrochloric acid into the air.

The Solvay process was developed in the late 19th century and replaced the Leblanc process since it was less polluting. It is still widely used today, along with the refining of natural soda deposits.

Baking soda is mildly abrasive and alkaline, which accounts for its many uses. Let’s look at some of them.


1. Baking soda is used in combination with acidic materials such as lemon juice, yogurt, buttermilk, or baking powder as a leavening agent in baked goods.

How does this work?

Well, when the alkaline baking soda reacts with the acidic buttermilk, carbon dioxide gets released, forming bubbles of air. This is what makes your pancakes, muffins, or other baked items so pleasantly fluffy.


2. Baking soda neutralizes odors by reacting with odor molecules. If you frequently have off-odors in your refrigerator, keep a small, open box of baking soda in there to keep your fridge smelling pleasant. Sprinkling baking soda at the bottom of your garbage can will greatly reduce odors, too.

3. It can also be used to clean toilets. In fact, it’s the way I most regularly clean mine. I sprinkle baking soda around the edge of the bowl, let it sit for about five minutes, then pour vinegar around the edge. Once the fizzing dies down, I scrub everything off with a toilet brush.

4. Baking soda doesn’t work quite as well as commercial cleaners when it comes to removing really old, nasty stains. But cleaning regularly with baking soda and vinegar will keep your bathroom clean cheaply and without weird chemical fumes.

Unclogging drains is one of the more popular uses for baking soda

5. My most frequent use of baking soda, for a time, was unclogging drains. When I bought my house, the previous owners had not been filtering the well water, which meant the pipes were full of gunk and I had to deal with clogged sinks and toilet backups frequently.

However, I read in Jonni McCoy’s Miserly Moms about how to improve drainage with baking soda and vinegar. When my bathroom sink started running really slowly, I would pour down ¼ c baking soda and then ½ c vinegar. Once the fizzing subsided, I poured down a teakettle full of boiling water. That always improved drainage; doing this regularly over the course of a decade has improved my sink’s drainage to a point where I never have dramatic backups anymore. I just do it once or twice a year to keep things running smoothly. Baking soda won’t dissolve hair, but it will dissolve all kinds of scum from soap, shampoo, and toothpaste. It is a great, cheap plumbing hack.

6. I have also successfully used baking soda and peroxide to remove armpit stains on white shirts. I mix ½ c baking soda, ½ c 3% hydrogen peroxide, and ½ c water and scrub that mixture into the offending shirts. I then soak them for about half an hour before putting them in the washing machine.

Personal Care

7. Some people say that baking soda makes great deodorant, and I tried it myself one year. Personally, it did not work for me. It did neutralize odors. However, it was extremely hard on my skin, and I developed irritating rashes. Some people think it’s great; I’m not one of them. But you could always try a very small amount and see how sensitive you are to it. I was using it in an area with humidity between 10 and 20%; maybe it causes less discomfort in more humid regions.

8. Baking soda is also useful in a variety of home remedies. I have found it helpful with insect stings. If you get stung by a bee or wasp, you can put a small amount of baking soda on it and then a wet paper towel or napkin on top of that. The baking soda helps neutralize the sting’s venom, making it less painful.

Uses I’ve Heard About But Never Tried:

9. Brushing your teeth

Even commercial toothpaste manufacturer Crest admits that baking soda is cheap and works well to eliminate plaque. The biggest problem dentists have with recommending baking soda alone is that it does not contain fluoride. However, if you’re one of the many people trying to avoid fluoride, this won’t be a problem for you.

10. Pain Relief

Try ¼ tsp baking soda mixed with 8 oz of water once a day for minor aches and pains.

Baking soda can be used for heartburn relief11. Heartburn Relief

If you suffer from occasional heartburn, try ½ tsp baking soda dissolved in 4 oz. water. Sip this slowly. People with chronic heartburn probably have other problems and need to talk to a doctor, but this may help people who only experience occasional heartburn after overindulging.

12. Sunburn Relief

Try sprinkling 2 oz of baking soda into warm bath water before getting in. It may help give relief for a mild sunburn.

13. Removing Pesticides from Produce

Many people can’t afford organic produce but are still concerned about chemicals. Studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of soaking apples in a solution of one teaspoon of baking soda per two cups of water for fifteen minutes, then rinsing with tap water before eating. This was shown to almost totally remove pesticides.

14. Cleaning Burnt Food from Cookware

15. Removing Stains from Coffee Mugs

16. Melting Ice

Just pour on your icy steps or driveway like road salt.

17. Removing Foot Odor from Shoes

Sprinkle generously!

18. Polishing Silver

Mix three parts baking soda to one part water, apply with a lint-free cloth, then rinse

19. Treating Toenail Fungus

Mix ½ c baking soda, ½ c Epsom salts, ¼ c 3% hydrogen peroxide with 4 c hot water. Add ¼ c white vinegar, then soak the affected foot for 10 minutes.

20. Tenderizing Meat

Sprinkle baking soda evenly over raw meat, then rinse off after about fifteen minutes. Baking soda can give meat an off flavor if you let it sit for too long; make sure you rinse it thoroughly before cooking.

21. Extinguishing Fires

This one is really important. I don’t have a fire extinguisher in my kitchen, but I do have a big box of baking soda at the ready in case of a grease fire. I have been fortunate, so far, in that I’ve never had a grease fire in my kitchen, but my friends and relatives have. It’s not that unusual, and dousing a small fire with baking soda is the safest way to keep it from turning into a large fire.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been using cheap, versatile baking soda for years. It cleans without chemical fumes. It’s perfectly septic-safe. If you use it for nothing else, you should still have a box in your kitchen for fire safety.

Baking soda really is an essential item for preppers. Between its personal hygiene and pain relief abilities, having a small amount with you in a bug-out bag could come in handy. If you have some kind of bug-out location you are preparing, I would add a big box of baking soda just for its ability to freshen the air. Some people are really concerned about nuclear strikes and are trying to equip shelters. If you plan on staying underground with your family for two weeks, having some baking soda on hand could make that a lot more pleasant.


21 Prepper Uses for Baking Soda

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