There are countless uses for baking soda, and I could never possibly list them all. I doubt there is any off-the-shelf substance that is cheaper or more versatile, and lately there’s been an explosion of “do it yourself” recipes and concoctions on the internet. It’s been used for dealing with rashes, bug bites, cleaning dishes, cleaning clothes, heartburn and lord knows what else. Today I’m going to focus on a particularly useful niche. Personal Hygiene.
Almost everything listed below are examples I use daily. Not only that, but I’ve used them without mixing the baking soda with anything else. This stuff is pretty incredible in its powdered form, and that makes it a must have for Preppers. Sure, there’s plenty of recipes out there that will make it way easier and comfortable to use. But, Preppers need things that are simple, portable, and cheap. What if you don’t have all of the ingredients to make your favorite shampoo? After disaster strikes, you won’t be able to run down to the store and pick up your apple cider vinegar.
Never fear, because baking soda’s got your back, and you can use it all by itself. Speaking of shampoo…
For Your Hair
This was one of the first things I used it for. Shampoo had a habit of sucking all of the oils out of my hair, making the strands go completely dry and flat. This gave my hair a kind of… teenage Bieber appearance (yuck). By lathering the baking soda into my scalp, it would clean out about 80-90 percent of the naturally occurring oils, leaving just enough behind to give it a healthy appearance and shape. Not only that, but the baking soda seems to work wonders with dandruff, almost as well as head and shoulders (and with a lot less chemicals than any commercial shampoo).
Brushing Your Teeth
The abrasive nature of baking soda makes it ideal for scrubbing your teeth. It’s just hard enough to clean your teeth, but not really hard enough to damage your enamel. Though I’ve heard warnings recently about brushing your teeth with pure baking soda, I’m not entirely convinced. Tooth enamel ranks 5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, above iron, steel, and nickel (though I wouldn’t try biting steel, enamel is incredibly thin). I think a salt like baking soda doesn’t stand a chance at damaging healthy teeth, but you should do your own research and make your own informed decision. As noted in this awesome article from yesterday, don’t use abrasives if you have a cavity.
Though if you do try it, just be prepared for the incredibly salty taste of baking soda (I used to pop mints after brushing my teeth until I got used to it). The procedure is pretty simple. Just wet the baking soda and apply it to the toothbrush. Brush as you would normally use toothpaste.
Another wonderful use for baking soda in oral care, is as a mouth wash. The pH level works wonders on bad breath. Since bacteria tends to thrive in an acidic environment, baking soda will balance out your mouth’s pH making it difficult for odor causing bacteria to thrive. In my experience it also enhanced my sense of taste after a thorough mouth rinse.
While there’s many recipes for homemade deodorant that call for baking soda, I’ve recently found it works quite well on its own. By simply powdering your armpits it kills the odors. Really. Just as simple as that. Some people like to add a little bit of water and turn it into a paste first, but I found you can skip that step as well (though some folks appear to be sensitive to baking soda’s abrasiveness, they may find adding water softens it up before applying it to the skin).
The first time I tried it I didn’t think it worked. There really wasn’t any difference until I stepped outside. It only took the smallest amount of sweat to activate the baking soda and kill all of the odor. Not only that, this stuff really stays with you. When baking soda gets wet it tends to have a slippery feel, so when I took a shower the next day it was obviously still there, but incredibly easy to wipe off with water. And unlike deodorant, it isn’t loaded with aluminum.
That same slippery feel seems to make baking soda a decent shaving lather. This is the only item on my list that I don’t use everyday, because I tried it for the first time this morning. It doesn’t work as well as shaving cream, but still works well enough. It takes a bit of practice because the baking soda needs to be mixed with water in the right proportions before being applied to the skin (it should be very watery). I would advise applying the paste to your skin one section at a time as you shave, until you get the mixture just right.
The real reason I wanted to add this item to my list, is for those of you who plan to keep shaving in a survival scenario. The high pH of baking soda would likely lower the risk of infection if you happen to cut yourself shaving. We wouldn’t want to survive societal collapse, only to die from shaving would we?
So there you have it. At less than a dollar per box, you can stock up on a quite a bit of sodium bicarbonate. Even after using it for deodorant, hair care, and brushing my teeth, it seems to take a really long time to go through a single box. And these are only a few of the dozens of uses. There is simply nothing cheaper or more versatile for your personal health. If the grid goes down, it will make hygiene quite a bit easier.
As a final note, baking soda DOES NOT contain aluminum, a myth likely started over the confusion between baking soda and baking powder, which does occasionally contain aluminum. So not only is it cheap, versatile, and portable, baking soda is quite safe. If you have any sources that say otherwise, sound off in the comments below.