Lately I’ve been receiving oodles of amazing green questions from Groovy Green Livin readers through Facebook, Twitter and email. I love that so many of you are reaching out. While I try to answer each and every question individually, there are times when it’s impossible. There are also many times when your fabulous questions deserve to be shared. So in light of all of the above, I’ve decided to create a weekly post dedicated to your questions!
This weeks question comes from a longtime groovy green friend and was raised during our monthly book club.
Baking soda is touted as an all natural cleaner and we use it for so many things, but I have no idea what it is and where it comes from. Can you help?
What is baking soda?
Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. In its natural form, baking soda is called nahcolite, taking its name from its chemical formula.
Where does it come from?
It comes from Green River, Wyoming. What a claim to fame! The Green River area is known as the “Trona Capital of the World.” Trona is mined underground. So what is trona?
It is a naturally-occurring mineral that is chemically known as sodium sesquicarbonate. Trona is the raw material which is refined into soda ash. Soda ash, in turn, is used to make glass, paper products, laundry detergents, and many other products. It also is used in the manufacturing of other chemicals, such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sodium phosphates (detergents).
All of the baking soda used in the US, and 25% of baking soda used worldwide, comes from the vast trona mines of Green River, WY.
Is baking soda non-toxic?
Baking soda is considered very safe and non-toxic. So many foods contain baking soda. I use it to bake with constantly. It doesn’t taste very good straight up, but you technically could take a teaspoon of baking soda and eat it.
Any environmental issues with baking soda?
My friend Umbra over at Grist raises an interesting environmental issue with regard trona mining:
“…the wastewater is very salty, and when it is piped away to a holding pond, it can make the birds that visit said pond fall sick, and sometimes drown.”
What’s the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate (the only ingredient in baking soda), but it includes the acidifying agent already (cream of tarter), and also a drying agent (usually starch). You can substitute baking powder for baking soda, but you can’t use baking soda in place of baking powder.
Baking soda uses
There are so many amazing uses for baking soda. I use it for everything from baking to cleaning. Think outside of the cookie box and the baking soda options are endless. Here are a few great resources to help find ways to use baking soda that may not have crossed your mind.
- 51 Fantastic Uses for Baking Soda
- 27 Ways to Clean with Baking Soda
- 7 Surprising Uses for Baking Soda
How do you use baking soda?
Now I need some help from you: I would like to name my weekly Q & A post with a catchy title-something like Dear Groovy Green Livin (but much more creative!). Let me know if you have any ideas! Also, send your groovy green questions to me and you could be featured as next weeks question of the week!
[Photo used under Creative Commons from Deb Nystrom/Flickr]
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