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Can Washing Soda Be Made From Baking Soda?

Baking soda bag

I still can't be totally sure from my experiment, but I did make an unexpected find.

Washing soda and baking soda are closely related. Washing soda is sodium carbonate; baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.

Washing soda is more alkaline than baking soda. This extra alkaline makes the washing soda more caustic, but that property also softens water better and is a better cleaning agent.

I spent a few hours on the internet, trying to find out for sure if heating baking soda in the oven (375 -400 degrees F for at least an hour) would indeed create washing soda. (*See important note below!) I found a lot of controversy, but finally found the Solvay process which does, indeed create washing soda by heating baking soda, but at temperatures higher than would be deemed safe at home.

I did determine that if I really was creating washing soda from heating baking soda in my oven, then the resulting powder should have a pH of 11.6 (same as washing soda, also known as soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate). Baking soda has a pH of 8.4.

To make my washing soda, I heated 1 cup of baking soda in a glass casserole dish for 3 hours at 375 degrees F. About three times during the heating process, I stirred the baking soda and checked to see if it had uniformly changed from white-sand-like to cream/grey-powder-like. This took about 3 hours before I was satisfied that it had all been transformed.

My experiment was fatally flawed when I discovered mid-experiment that my pH tape only tested up to 9.0. Darn. But I kept going and I'm glad I did! Here is what I found:

(See the longer article Make Washing Soda From Baking Soda - The pH Test for more details.)

Here are my two jars from the experiment. The one on the left is baking soda and filtered water. The one on the right is the (hopefully) homemade washing soda, which I made from heating baking soda in a 375 degree F oven for 3 hours.

Compare residue in two jars

Here is another view:

Overhead view of two jars and residue

Again, the jar on the left is the one with baking soda; the jar on the right is the one with the homemade washing soda.

You will note that the baking soda did not dissolve in the water, despite a second mixing session. The homemade washing soda immediately dissolved and stayed dissolved.

Now I see why I sometimes get a white residue on my clothing when I use baking soda directly in the rinse wash, instead of mixing it with water first. Baking soda is reluctant to dissolve in water!

As for the pH test, I could tell that the homemade washing soda was more alkaline than the baking soda, but I don't know how much. My best guess is that I created a substance that was something close to sodium carbonate (washing soda). I'll test again when I have better pH tape.

The cost results were very disappointing:

Cost of making one cup of homemade washing soda, without the cost of the oven heat: $.22

Cost of the homemade washing soda including oven heat: $1.23

Cost of one cup of washing soda purchased at retail: $.45

In my experiment, then, the cost of the homemade washing soda was nearly three times more expensive than washing soda purchased at retail.

The cost of the oven heat was the deciding factor. So I may experiment with using a shallower pan and/or lower oven temperatures. I could even make small batches in the top rack of the oven while I'm already baking something in the oven.

Despite the pH failure, I did have fun doing this experiment, and I did learn something, and that is The Fat Dollar way.


Article by Patti Tokar Canton

*Important Note: Please heat baking soda in your oven at your own risk! I don't have any information on the safety factors of this process and therefore can't make any recommendations on how safe the process is. Neither I nor The Fat Dollar will take responsibility for any results you may or may not have. Heating baking soda releases carbon dioxide gas and water vapor. The process creates a potentially caustic powder that should not come in contact with skin. It should also not come in contact with aluminum pans since sodium carbonate will corrode aluminum.



MySuburbanHomestead.com - http://www.mysuburbanhomestead.com/find-cheapest-source-baking-soda/

Amazon.com - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (read the reviews) - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0029XNTEU/sr=8-1/qid=1319939534/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1319939534&sr=8-1&seller=

Buy.com - http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=215956159&listingid=86967656

Wikipedia - Sodium bicarbonate http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_bicarbonate

The Engineering ToolBox - pH values - http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/bases-ph-d_402.html

City Collegiate - Chemistry of Sodium Carbonate - http://www.citycollegiate.com/sblock2.htm

PennilessParenting.com - http://www.pennilessparenting.com/2011/01/homemade-washing-soda.html

MakingDoWithTheNotSoNew.com - http://makingdowiththenotsonew.blogspot.com/2009/02/homemade-laundry-soap-with-baking-soda.html

About.com Chemistry - http://chemistry.about.com/od/makechemicalsyourself/a/Sodium-Carbonate-From-Baking-Soda.htm

DiaperPin.com - http://www.diaperpin.com/clothdiapers/article_bakingsoda.asp

Wikipedia - Solvay Process - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solvay_process

Charles Sturt University - Chemistry - http://hsc.csu.edu.au/chemistry/options/industrial/2765/Ch956.htm

Ausetute.com.au - http://www.ausetute.com.au/solvay.html

eNotes.com How Products Are Made - http://www.enotes.com/how-products-encyclopedia/baking-soda








Article by Patti Tokar Canton

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