Sodium Bicarbonate, more commonly known to us as Baking Soda shows up in many do-it-yourself recipes. In baking of course, and as a “natural” or “sustainable” replacement in household cleaning products. Baking soda for clothes stains removal is also a hot topic among sustainability enthusiasts. But why? Natural here means that it didn’t need human intervention in order to exist, but we need to consider what it takes to get it to our stores and if it remains a sustainable option.
The chemical composition of Baking Soda. Yes, it’s a chemical. We need to remember that the word chemical is not bad, all things are made of chemicals. We need to be on the look-out for toxins. Toxins are man-made or naturally occurring chemicals that are harmful, like Arsenic. It’s a naturally occurring chemical that is terribly toxic.
Sodium Bicarbonate is a naturally occurring mineral substance that is mined in the USA, mostly in Wyoming and Colorado. Mineral deposits of it formed after natural bodies of water evaporated. You know the stuff, you probably have a box of it in your fridge. It is great at absorbing smells in the air and so much more. Baking soda for clothes stains removal is a necessary ingredient in my favorite laundry pretreat solution which you can find in another post here.
While Sodium Bicarbonate does occur naturally, it has to be mined from underground by either a dry or wet process. The dry process consists of the deposits being scraped off and carried out of the earth. The wet process involves water that is flushed into then out of the earth.1 Both, of course, have an impact on the environment, but as a naturally occurring substance, you are not risking washing toxins down your drain and into your local water supply.
If you are worried about depletion, it is estimated that in Wyoming alone there is enough to supply the world with Baking Soda for over 2,000 years.2 Don’t waste it, but don’t sweat it.
1. Lyle, Ellen. “Is all Baking Soda the Same?” January 27 2019. The Pink Elephant Lady, http://www.thepinkelephantspeaks.com/post/is-all-baking-soda-the-same. Accessed May 11 2020.
2. Umbra. “Where does baking soda come from, and is it really so eco-friendly?” September 5 2016. Grist>, https://grist.org/living/where-does-baking-soda-come-from-and-is-it-really-so-eco-friendly/. Accessed May 11 2020.
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