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See some surprising uses of baking soda

July 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
At 89 cents a box, baking soda is a kitchen ingredient that can do a lot to help.

No doubt you use it in baking, and chances are you have an open box in your fridge to cut odors. Well this is a perfect multitasker and we'll show you just what baking soda can do.

Start with cooking. We know it has a leavening agent that helps dough rise in our baked treats, but did you know that adding a pinch to dried beans speeds the cooking process and helps to combat those compounds that create gas?

Baking soda also reduces acid in food. Just add a pinch in tomato sauce while it's cooking or even to coffee while it's brewing. It will also help tenderize meat as it helps break down protein.

And next time you're at the grocery store, skip the cleaning aisles. Not only does baking soda have a mild abrasive and deodorizing quality, but it's much cheaper than your all-purpose cleaners.

Make a paste with it just by adding a little water. Let it sit on stains, and then scrub. You'll have a sparkling clean surface in the kitchen or bathroom.

To make a big batch of all-purpose cleaner take 8 cups of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of baking soda for all kinds of basic cleaning.

But that's not all, adding 1/2 cup of baking soda to laundry detergent will assist the cleaning process and neutralize odors, too.

It is also soothing for those with sunburn, poison ivy or mosquito bites when added to bath water or even a paste - one part water, three parts baking soda.

If you have a pool or spa, you can add it to the water to help with pH balance.

But it does have its limits. At over 1000 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon, it can't help you with an upset stomach. That is much too salty for sensible relief.

Nor can it help neutralize the effects of lactic acid build up in athletes, which some researchers proposed. The result had some unhealthy side effects such as bloating, cramping and nausea.

The bottom line, don't just keep it to the kitchen.

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