Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, is a versatile household chemical with applications for every room of the house.
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is found in the baking aisle of the grocery store because it is commonly used as a leavening agent for making quick breads. In a batter, baking soda reacts rapidly with acidic ingredients such as lemon juice, molasses, or soured milk producing carbon dioxide, which creates fluffy pancakes, banana bread, or cake.
Baking powder, or sodium tartrate, is also a leavening agent, and the two are used in different recipes because a cook does not have to combine baking powder with an acidic ingredient to produce gas bubbles.
In both the kitchen and the chemistry laboratory, baking soda is handy because its amphoteric property of reacting with both acids and bases makes it a mild, but rapid method of neutralizing spills. If there is no risk of spreading a fire such as through spattering grease, baking soda is sometimes used to smother small, cooking fires.
Baking soda is also a well-known odor neutralizer, and it is often placed in refrigerators and freezers to prevent the smell of one food from contaminating the taste of another. Likewise, baking soda may be used to remove odors from gym bags, garbage cans or carpets; pouring a box of baking soda down the drain deodorizes sinks and garbage disposals as well.
With the growing interest in environmentally friendly cleaning products, baking soda can be substituted effectively for a number of commercial products. For example, as a mild abrasive baking soda can be used as a gentle cleaner for many kitchen surfaces. Baking soda can also be combined with hydrogen peroxide to make a non-fluoride toothpaste; although since it lacks the flavorings included in most commercial products, this green solution may not appeal to everyone.
More uses of baking soda as well as a number of activities for children may be found at http://www.armandhammer.com/solutions.aspx