What it is: A powdery white chemical salt with crystalline grains.

Where it comes from: The natural form of baking soda is called nahcolite. Nahcolite is found in hot springs, saline lakes, and in geological formations all over the world when liquid evaporates and a crystallization process occurs. Today, commercially available baking soda is produced artificially through chemical processes. The first mass-produced baking soda was made in a New York factory in 1846 by two bakers named John Dwight and Austin Church. 

Properties: Baking soda is chalky in texture and has virtually no fragrance. It is environmentally friendly and works as a gentle yet effective cleanser.

What it’s good for: Baking soda is an exceptional beauty tool. Its slightly grainy texture helps to delicately exfoliate skin and soften calloused feet, hands, and cuticles. When mixed with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda can even whiten nail beds. It also helps to balance the skin’s pH, and can clear up acne. Baking soda can also be used to clean and whiten teeth, as well as remove product build-up from hair.

Where you’ll find it: Baking soda can be found in any grocery or convenience store. It is an ingredient in dish detergent, toothpaste, shampoo, and many other daily-use household products. It is also an important ingredient in bakery items. Baking soda is often contained in foot and body lotion, as well as remedies to prevent nail fungus.

Other uses: Baking soda is primarily used to make dough rise when cooking. It can also ease painful sunburns when added to bath water. In addition, baking soda can be taken in an aqueous solution to treat ailments such as heartburn and acid indigestion.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about