Well, there are actually a ton of things you can do with baking soda that don’t involve baking. It’s a pretty handy natural cleanser, for one thing. But even more exciting are 7 great things baking soda can do for your hair, skin, and body. Dollar for dollar and use for use, it is probably the most affordable and versatile health & beauty product around.
We feel confident in saying that these 7 uses qualify as actual life hacks. If you’ve ever been in desperate need of #4, you’ll know what we’re talking about.
1. Treat Heartburn
Heartburn is one of those relatively harmless conditions that make you feel like your chest is going to explode. Also known as acid reflux, heartburn occurs when stomach acid creeps up out of your stomach and enters the throat. Chronic heartburn can cause permanent damage to the esophagus, but even if you just get hit after overindulging in rich or spicy food, the pain is enough to make you crazy.
Baking soda can neutralize stomach acid and provide rapid relief from acid reflux. Just dissolve a teaspoon of it in some cold water and drink the mixture slowly. (Gulping it can lead to a lot of froth in your stomach that will make you feel bloated.)
2. Use as Deodorant
Deodorant is another product that often contains baking soda because it is excellent at absorbing odors. This is the same reason that some people leave an open box of the stuff in their refrigerators or bathrooms. It works because of its antimicrobial properties.
Did you know that human sweat is actually odorless? It only starts to smell when the bacteria on our skin begin to break it down into acidic waste products. Baking soda doesn’t fully halt this process, but it makes the result significantly less acidic and therefore, less pungent. Try patting some onto your armpits in a pinch as a natural deodorant.
3. Freshen Breath & Whiten Teeth
Baking soda is an excellent tool for oral care as well. Studies show that toothpaste containing baking soda is better at breaking down plaque and whitening teeth than toothpaste without it. But you don’t necessarily have to buy the toothpaste to enjoy the benefits. You can make a small amount of paste with baking soda and water, and then dip your toothbrush right in there before brushing.
Baking soda also has strong antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that make it an excellent mouthwash. Just ½ teaspoon of baking soda in half a glass of water is enough – swish it around your mouth and spit it out just as you would any other mouthwash. The mixture is great for reaching crevices between and around teeth that might be missed while brushing.
4. Rock Your Workout
Baking soda is actually quite popular among endurance athletes. Certain studies have shown that baking soda allows you to perform at your peak for a longer period of time, especially during high-intensity training. During this type of exercise, your muscle cells produce something called lactic acid. Lactic acid is the reason you feel a burning sensation while exercising hard. It also lowers the pH inside your cells, which causes the muscles to fatigue.
Baking soda has a high pH and can compensate somewhat for the lactic acid. This may help keep you going longer. One study found that people who ingested some baking soda before exercising went for about 4.5 minutes longer than those who didn’t. Remember that this is 4.5 minutes longer at peak exertion. It may not sound like a lot in terms of an everyday workout, but when you’re running a race, it can make all the difference.
5. Treat Canker Sores
Canker sores cause a lot of pain for how tiny they are! They are simply small circular ulcers that form inside the mouth (not on the lips). They aren’t contagious and often occur after a period of overindulging in rich food. Canker sores usually heal by themselves but can be quite uncomfortable until they do.
If you are bothered by a canker sore, use the baking soda mouthwash we described in #2 – ½ teaspoon baking soda dissolved in a half cup of water – on a daily basis. Research indicates that this can significantly reduce the pain as well as speed healing.