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This one product can replace hundreds of plastic bottles on your shelves. It does biodegrade. However there are issues about how it is obtained. I say it is a good product but use in moderation. Locally made soap  is a greener cleaning option to my mind.

What Is Bicarbonate Of Soda (Baking Soda)

Chemical formula NaHCO3.
Each molecule of sodium bicarbonate contains one sodium atom (Na), one hydrogen atom (H), and a carbonate ion (one carbon atom bonded to three oxygen atoms).
It is biodegradable
Bicarb is formed naturally as nahcolite  but most of the stuff sold is man made.
In 1846, John Dwight and his brother-in-law, Dr Austin Church, invented bicarbonate of soda. It was made from carbon dioxide and treated soda ash. 
There is more on soda ash here.
Most Bicarbonate of Soda is imported.
It is alkaline which is why it is so good at cleaning up grease and fats.

Nahcolite

It can  mined directly from the ground  as Nahcolite.  This is a soft, colourless or white carbonate mineral with the composition of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). It may  also be called thermokalite.

Manufactured

Most Bicarbonate of soda is produced  by either of these heavily industrialized processes
The Solvay Process  Uses limestone, salt and ammonia to transform salt (sodium chloride). 
Mining –  Trona ore  is mined, then heated until it turns into soda ash also known as washing soda. Bicarbonate of soda is obtained along the way. Read more.

Baking Soda V Washing Soda

Baking Soda’s PH is not as alkaline as washing soda, so it doesn’t cause skin irritation and you don’t need gloves to handle them. It is not as harsh as washing soda but neither is it as effective a cleaner. It is also half as effective at softening water.
You can turn bicarb back into washing soda by baking it so that breaks back down into water steam, carbon dioxide and washing soda. I have never done this but by all acounts need to cook your bicarb in the oven for half an hour at 400 F (or 200 C). You can compare and contrast them here.

Bicarbonate As A Cleaner
Bicarbonate is alkaline. Alkaline cleaners work well because they emulsify grease.  Fatty acids are normally insoluble which is why they cannot be cleaned using water alone. The alkaline breaks down fat making them dispersable in water.
They also coat the dirt with negatively charged hydroxide ions which means the dirt particles repel each other. So rather than massing together in a big greasy clump they remain suspended in solution so again can be rinsed off. Read more HERE

Deodorising

Bicarb can be used to get rid of acid based nasty smells.
“Many carboxylic acids have unpleasant smells and tastes. They are responsible for:
the taste of vinegar
the smell of sweaty socks
the taste of rancid butter

Carboxylic acids are weak acids. This means that dilute solutions of carboxylic acids have higher pHs (ie are less acidic) than dilute solutions of strong acids such as hydrochloric acid, nitric acid and sulfuric acid.
Weak acids are less reactive than strong acids.” Read more HERE

Baking soda is an effective deodorant “because of its basicity. Many foul-smelling compounds are acidic. Neutralizing the compound gives it an ionic character which reduces the vapor pressure (meaning it is less available for the nose to smell it) and makes it much more water soluble (it can be washed away).” Source

Cooking
Bicarbonate can be used to make baking soda “Baking soda, is also used to make cookies, cakes, biscuits, and similar pastries “rise” during baking. In the presence of an acid, it easily decomposes into carbon dioxide and a sodium salt of that acid, and the trapped bubbles provide the textures we enjoy in those foods. Note that “baking powder” is a simple mixture of baking soda and a dry acid such as cream of tartar,” often with a starch added to provide bulk.

We Use It For

Cleaning the house
Deoderant
Toothpowder
Washing your hair

Buy

Bicarb is available fromk
Wing Yip Chinese Super Store in Manchester in bulk in paper bags
Wilco’s in a cardboard box
Dri Pac in cardboard boxes with plastic liners.
You can also get some great deals on ebay but it does come plastic wrapped. However when you think how much you can do with it, and how many plastic bottles it, replaces you might consider it a worthwhile trade off!

More

Borax, washing soda, bicarbonate or all three. What should you use for your cleaning needs? A comparison HERE
Information on PH balances and other cleaning products can be found HERE

See all out #plasticfree cleaning aids HERE

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