Why does baking soda extinguish fires?

What Is baking soda?

Baking soda is a simple, natural product that is made of sodium bicarbonate, which is highly alkaline. When it is combined with something acidic, it will produce carbon dioxide gas.  

In cooking, this action causes the ingredients to rise which is why it is used for making bread.The baking soda is also known to be a good all aro

The baking soda is also known to be a good all around cleanser with mildly abrasive properties. It is great at absorbing odors. There are many ways that baking soda can be put to use in the home.

Even though baking soda is made of just one ingredient – sodium bicarbonate, that ingredient is a combination of carbon, sodium, hydrogen and oxygen. (57.1 percent sodium, 27.4 percent oxygen, 14.3 percent carbon and 1.2 percent hydrogen.)

The compound is a white powder that sometimes forms lumps. It is odorless and has a bitter, but slightly salty taste. It is solid at room temperature, and is able to be dissolved in water.

Uses for baking soda

The properties of the baking soda lend themselves to many uses around the home. 

One only has to look on line and ask what baking soda is good for to come up with all sorts of ways:

  • Baking soda deodorizes and absorbs odors.
  • It acts as a natural cleaner.
  • Many people use baking soda for health reasons.
  • It is often used for personal hygiene and care.
  • Baking soda can be used as a fire extinguisher!
  • USe baking soda to soak fruit and veggies.

Baking Soda Can Help Lose Weight: Myth Or Fact?

Image: ShutterStock
Image: ShutterStock

Because baking soda soothes indigestion by neutralizing stomach acids, it’s rumored to help your body break down fat. In reality, it has no direct effect on body fat — and doesn’t negate the calories from fats you consume. You lose weight when you create an energy deficit or eat fewer calories than you burn. A dose of baking soda doesn’t exempt you from this equation, however.

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is an alkaline substance that counters the effects of acid. When you consume baking soda, it reacts with your stomach acid to release byproducts such as water and carbon dioxide, which leads to burping. This chemical reaction helps your roiling stomach feel better after a particularly spicy or fatty meal, but it won’t make your body absorb the calories differently.

[Read: Baking Soda for Weight Loss ]

Baking soda is very much essential in our day-to-day lives and once we all start storing it in our homes, we will know how many ways can a baking soda be used. But there are always surprises in store and here are some of them to help you know more about baking soda.

  • You can also just dip your toothbrush with toothpaste into baking soda for an extra boost to your teeth and to remove odor.
  • Mix baking soda in a ratio of 3:1. Now apply this paste in a circular motion before rinsing it all clean. That forms one of the best natural scrubs and exfoliator.
  • Pat baking soda onto your underarms to neutralize body odor.
  • For insect bites, make a paste out of baking soda and water, and apply as a salve onto affected skin. To ease the itch, shake some baking soda into your hand and rub it into damp skin after bath or shower.
  • Add 3 parts baking soda to gentle liquid hand soap. Then rinse clean to experience soft and moisturized hands.
  • Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your bath to neutralize acids on the skin and help wash away oil and perspiration, it also makes your skin feel very soft.
  • Baking soda benefits dark lips too. All you need to do is to add honey and baking soda together and mix well. Apply it on your lips for two to three minutes before washing it off with water.


Treating Cold and Flu with Bicarbonate of Soda

In 1924, Dr. Volney S. Cheney published a book called Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Medical Uses, in which he recorded his experience with treating flu. He observed that people who were treated with baking soda either remained healthy or they developed a milder version of the disease.

You can read the full details in the article: How To Fight Cold and Flu With Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda).

Use baking soda to make a plant fertilizer

Baking soda on its own can’t be used to fertilize plants, but you can use it with other products to make a good replacement for Miracle Gro garden fertilizer.Just combine 1 tablespoon of epsom salt with a tea

Just combine 1 tablespoon of epsom salt with a teaspoon of baking soda and a half teaspoon of household ammonia.  Put this mixture into a gallon of water and still well.

Use it once a month on your plants by mixing a 1/8 -1/4 of the concentrate with 4 cups of water in a watering can.

Check out this article for other natural plant fertilizers.

How Did It Become the Household Staple?

Baking soda was first stashed in the fridge of people to keep the fridges fresh. People looked for baking soda on a daily basis majorly for this cause. Then it was known that baking soda is a chemical leavener producing carbon dioxide in reaction to an acid (like vinegar). It produces bubbles that help the cake or cookie become tender, moist, and fluffy.

Baking Soda for Beauty

The above mentioned baking soda paste can be used to naturally exfoliate the skin. Gently massage baking soda onto face to remove dead skin cells. This should not be done more than once or twice a month as it can dry out the skin and make it overly alkaline. Skin is meant to be slightly acidic.

Baking soda is sometimes used as a shampoo alternative. Because baking soda is alkaline and hair and scalp are ideally more acidic, it can have adverse effects on the hair and scalp. Baking soda can be used as a “dry shampoo” for occasional use. It will help to absorb any odor and remove excess oil.

Baking soda is an old fashioned tooth paste solution. Whereas hair and skin need to be slightly acidic, the mouth should not be acidic. An acidic mouth is more likely to experience tooth decay, oral infections and bad breath. Brushing the teeth with baking soda before bed will help to keep the mouth alkaline overnight and will also help to whiten teeth.

Baking Soda Is Good for Soothing Itchy Skin

Adding baking soda to bath water can be an effective way to alleviate irritation and itchiness from your skin.

Some scientific studies indicate that alkaline bath water helps reduce itching. Researchers recommend bathing in baking soda water to help treat itching caused by dermatitis. (19) A baking soda and water paste can also treat itchy skin conditions. (20)

How to use baking soda for treating itchy skin

Mix a little water with a tablespoon of baking soda and apply to the patch of itchy skin or insect bite that itches. Leave for 10-15 minutes before rinsing with cool water.

Alternatively, you can use baking soda in your bath water to get rid of itchiness from your skin. Add a cup of baking soda to warm water in your bathtub and soak for 20 minutes to help soothe skin irritations.

Learn about other natural ingredients that are good for adding to your bath to relax and rejuvenate your skin.

If you suffer from chronic itching skin, find out what else you can do to relieve skin irritation naturally.

How Can You Tell if Baking Soda is Fresh?

Baking soda can begin to break down and decompose over time. You can test the strength of the baking soda by adding a small amount of baking soda to a large bowl and pouring a small amount of vinegar over baking soda. If the mixture foams vigorously, the baking soda is still good. Make sure you perform this test over the sink, as it can create lots of foam.

Baking Soda as a Fire Extinguisher

For some fires, water is the worst thing to throw on to it. Grease fires and electrical fires are two fires that can be made more dangerous if water is added. Baking soda, however, is a good compound to use to put out small electrical fires or grease fires. (The exception being a fire from a deep fryer, then neither water not baking soda should be used.)

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder

Similar to baking soda, baking powder is a leavening agent used in quick-bake recipes. Often confused and mistaken for one another, these two interact within recipes in different ways and are very different in composition. It is important to consider the differences between both baking soda and baking powder when exploring baking recipes. As previously mentioned, baking soda is a leavening agent that, when mixed with acid and liquid, becomes activated and produces CO2 bubbles. Similarly, baking powder is a leavening agent that produces CO2 bubbles. However, the composition is one of the major differences.

Baking powder is comprised of baking soda itself, paired with another dry acid, such as cream of tartar. As a result, baking powder has the ability to be single or double acting. Single-acting baking powder performs in a similar way to baking soda that has been combined with an acid. It quickly releases CO2 and creates the leavening process that must be quickly taken advantage of. However, a double-acting baking powder can be activated twice through different means. Once the liquid is added to the baking powder, it becomes activated and produces the CO2 bubbles. In addition to the first activation, there is a secondary activation that can take place once the solution, or batter, is exposed to heat (placed in the oven). This also creates the ability for an elongated time frame that is not present within the reaction caused with baking soda and acid. This means that because baking powder is activated by liquid and already has the dry acid component (cream of tartar), it can preserve in the refrigerator longer. This is why items such as cookie dough can remain in the refrigerator, while cake batter must be cooked promptly.

How Does Baking Soda Work?

Baking soda is most commonly used in baking as a leavening agent, hence its name. Before the commercialization of baking soda, biological leavening and fermentation processes were used but less convenient due to the extensive length of time associated with biological leavening. As most have formerly learned through science class and experimental measures, when a base meets an acid, a chemical reaction occurs. This concept is the same for baking soda as it pertains to baking. When baking soda is mixed with an acid and a liquid, it will create bubbles of carbon dioxide that give it a fluffy texture. That being said, baking soda can react without acid if it is warmed above 122°F or subject to long-term heat and humidity. If baking soda is stored within reasonable temperatures (at or below 77°F and 75% humidity), it will keep indefinitely.

Baking soda is generally used as an active ingredient in quick-bake recipes such as cookies, muffins, and pancakes. This is because of the fast-acting chemical reaction associated with baking soda and the acidic counterpart. When baking soda is combined with acid, CO2 gas bubbles are released, creating the “airy” effect in batter and dough. Furthermore, once the dough or batter starts to bake, the carbon dioxide will begin to filter through the dough and expand air that is trapped inside. The sources of acid combined with the baking soda will determine if the dough or batter can be kept in the refrigerator or needs to be baked immediately. For example, if the sources of acid are dry, such as cream of tartar or cocoa powder, then they can keep longer once combined with baking soda. However, if the acids are wet, such as yogurt or lemon juice, then the resulting batter will need to be used promptly. Baking soda can also provide dough with increased pH levels, which creates a heightened alkalinity. Through the increase in pH, the gluten in the dough becomes weakened, which creates a tender texture for cookies and pastries versus something chewier such as bread. Quantity is an important component, considering the effect baking soda has on baking recipes.

Make the Chemical Volcano

  1. Start by making the cone of your baking soda volcano by mixing 6 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 4 tablespoons cooking oil, and 2 cups of water. The resulting mixture should be smooth and firm (add more water if needed).
  2. Stand the soda bottle in the baking pan and mold the dough around it to form a volcano shape. Be sure not to cover the hole or drop dough inside the bottle.
  3. Fill the bottle most of the way full with warm water and a bit of red food coloring. (You can do this prior to sculpting the cone as long as you don’t take so long that the water gets cold.)
  4. Add 6 drops of detergent to the contents of the bottle. The detergent helps trap bubbles produced by the chemical reaction so you get better lava.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons baking soda to the liquid in the bottle.
  6. Slowly pour vinegar into the bottle, and then watch out…It’s eruption time!

No bubbles? Proofing the baking soda

You must ensure that baking soda is still viable (that it will work) by a method called proofing.

Proofing instructions:

Prepare a cup. Put 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into a cup. Add in 1/2 cup hot tap water. Add in 1/4 cup vinegar.

The mixture should produce bubbles. If not, don’t use it for baking.


48. Camping Cure-all

This product is a must-have for your next camping trip. Its a dish washer, pot scrubber, hand cleanser, deodorant, toothpaste, fire extinguisher and has many other uses.

49. Extinguish Fires

Baking soda can help in the initial handling of minor grease or electrical kitchen fires, because when the soda is heated, it gives off carbon dioxide, which helps to smother the flames. For small cooking fires (frying pans, broilers, ovens, grills), turn off the gas or electricity if you can safely do so. Stand back and throw handfuls of soda at the base of the flame to help put out the fire–and call the Fire Department just to be safe. (And, you should have a fire extinguisher on hand anyway)

50. Septic Care

Regular use  in your drains can help keep your septic system flowing freely. 1 cup of baking soda per week will help maintain a favorable pH in your septic tank.

51. Fruit and Vegetable Scrub

This product is the food safe way to clean dirt and residue off fresh fruit and vegetables. Just sprinkle a little on a clean damp sponge, scrub and rinse.

Share what natural products you use in your home in the comments below. We’d love to hear!

If you loved this article, but still aren’t sure where Baking Soda comes from or how it’s made, check out this article we found on The Grist!