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Making Homemade Washing Soda from Baking Soda - One Last pH Test

I'm learning more about pH testing than I ever expected to need to know.

If you've been following my articles and blog posts, I've been experimenting with the costs and methods of making homemade washing soda by heating baking soda.

One of my biggest questions is whether or not heating baking soda in my oven actually converts it to washing soda. One way to tell is by testing the pH. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) has a pH of 8.4. Washing soda (sodium carbonate) has a pH of 11.6. The higher alkaline of washing soda makes it a better cleaning agent.

In my last pH test of my hopefully-washing-soda, I discovered too late that my pH testing tape only tested up to 9.0, so I was not able to get the reading of 11.6 that I needed.

To remedy this, I ordered some pH testing strips that would read up to a pH of 14.0.

Wide range pH testing strips

Yeah, I get to buy cool stuff like that because I'm writing this article.

Next I tested plain filtered water as a control.

pH strip in plain water

And got a pH result of 6.0 - 6.5. - This shows that the water is neutral.

pH strip showing 6.0

Since this filtered water is also our drinking water, I wonder what I'd do if it tested, say 4.0 or 10.0? Panic, I'd guess.

Next, I added a tablespoon of the homemade washing soda to the filtered water.

Spoonful of washing soda being added to water

I left this image a little bigger so that you could get a closer look at the texture of homemade washing soda. Notice that when the baking soda is heated it changes from a grainy texture to a powdery texture. It also is a little less white than the baking soda.
This powdery texture and slight change in color is an indicator that the baking soda is converting to washing soda.

I shook the mixture in the jar until the homemade washing soda dissolved completely.

Mixing the jar


And finally, I did a pH test on the mixture.

pH testing the mixture

The result ... take a look.

Test strips showing pH Result

The two on the left (yes, I tested it twice, just to be sure) are giving a pH result of 12.0 with a touch of 11.0. (I know, the colors don't show as well in this photo.)

SUCCESS! Since washing soda has a pH of 11.6, I think we can safely say that heating baking soda in your oven can, indeed, change the baking soda to washing soda.

And now I think I'm done with pH testing for awhile. Whew.


For more information on the cost of making your own washing soda, see the articles

Washing Soda from Baking Soda Cost ,

The Washing Soda Experiment - Can You Make Washing Soda from Baking Soda?

and Making Washing Soda from Baking Soda- the pH Test




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