I don’t know if you can use it to put out burning cakes but bicarbonate of soda is rather wonderful.

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.


Bicarb is available from Wing Yip Chinese Super Store in Manchester and it comes in paper bags… or from 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!

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.


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.


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.

Use It For

Bicarb in the house

For beauty

Making cleaning products

Other resources

washing soda 

Making Sodiums

Trona Mining


Chemical cleaning products


Baking soda, is 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.

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BLOG STATS As of 01.29.2017 onward have been counting the number people who have read each post. WHY CUT PLASTIC About 100 million tons of plastic are produced each year and much of it is used to make one-use, disposable items. Because plastic doesn't biodegrade these items, though only used for moments can last for decades, centuries, possibly forever. We are creating ever lasting rubbish in unsustainable amounts. It is polluting the environment, maiming even killing animals, poisoning fish and may be poisoning us.

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