Bigger Results From Your Money and Time - Money saving tips and ideas
In a previous article, Making Washing Soda from Baking Soda , I calculated the cost of making washing soda in my oven. I also shared the results of my flawed pH test.
In that article, the cost one cup of homemade washing soda was an astonishing $.98/cup, which was more than twice the cost of washing soda purchased at retail. The cost of baking soda has risen slightly ($6.68 for a 13.5 lb bag from Sam's Club), so today the cost of homemade washing soda calculates to $1.00 a cup.
But the cost of the baking soda is not the point. What bothered me about the experiment and cost calculation was that the cost of heating the oven for the three hours it took to convert the baking soda to washing soda was the bulk of the cost. The cost of the oven heat is $.76 of the total cost of a cup of homemade washing soda.
The cost of the oven heat is what made the homemade washing soda so expensive.
To lower the cost, I wondered if I could just heat the baking soda while I was cooking other foods. Since I don't normally have the oven heating for three hours at a time, except during the holidays, I was curious if the baking soda would still convert if the heating was cumulative.
To test this, I got a larger glass casserole dish (do not use aluminum bakeware because the baking soda becomes caustic and damaging to aluminum when it is heated) and put two cups of baking soda in an even layer in the dish. I then put this on the very top rack of my oven, out of the way, and left it there for a week. During that week, I used the oven about every other night. Sometimes my baking lasted an hour, sometimes less. A couple of times, I took the "baking soda casserole" out and stirred it and then put it back in the oven. Otherwise, the dish stayed in the oven, whether the oven was on or off. A couple of times, I even forgot it was still there.
(Note: remember that the volume increases when converting baking soda to washing soda. In my experiments, 2 cups of baking soda would convert to approximately 2-1/2 cups of washing soda. I don't know why this happens, but one day if I ever get curious enough, I'll look it up.)
The experiment was a success. After about a week of off and on heating, the baking soda had made its conversion to washing soda. I estimate that I used the oven for a total of about 6-7 hours, including preheating time, during the course of the experiment.Since I used no extra oven heat for the "baking soda casserole," I successfully brought the price of a cup of washing soda down to $.24 a cup.
Compare this to the retail price of washing soda:
Amazon.com has Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda priced at $10.39 for 55 ounces, including shipping if you are a Prime customer. Assuming washing soda weighs about 8.4 ounces per cup, then Amazon's cost is $1.59 per cup of washing soda.
If you can find washing soda in your local stores, you will pay considerably less - most likely around $2.50 to $5.00 for the box of washing soda. My best estimate is that you should be able to get the Arm & Hammer 55 oz box of washing soda for $2.99. This then makes the price of a cup of locally purchased washing soda to be $.46 a cup.
This means that making homemade washing soda, if you can make it while doing your regular baking and cooking, creates a potential savings of $1.25 per cup for mail-ordered washing soda and $.22 a cup for washing soda purchased from your local store.
Research shows that the average family does anywhere from 3.5 to 7 loads of laundry a week. 7 loads a week sounded high to me, but a blog post and responses on Money Saving Mom, shows that 7 loads a week is not unusual. However, I like to be conservative, so I'll use 5 loads of laundry per week for our calculations.
Normal recommended use of washing soda in the laundry is 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load. So let's say that you will average 3/8 a cup of washing soda in every load. For my own laundry, I use ( homemade) laundry detergent plus 1/4 cup homemade washing soda in every load.
5 loads of laundry/week with 3/8 cup of washing soda per load costs:
Using mail-order washing soda - $.60 a load or $3.00 per week or $156.00 a year.
Using store-bought washing soda -$.17 a load or $.85 per week or $44.20 a year.
Using homemade washing soda heated only when otherwise cooking/baking (no extra heat cost) - $.09 a load or $.45 per week or $23.40 a year.
Therefore the savings range from $20.80 a year (vs local store-purchased washing soda) to $132.60 per year (vs mail order washing soda) to make your own washing soda from baking soda.
Keep in mind that you will only see these savings if you heat your baking soda while baking/cooking so that you do not pay for extra heat in the process. Using homemade washing soda heated alone in the oven (includes the cost of oven heat), the cost is $.38 a load or $1.90 per week or $98.80 a year. This is more expensive than the store-bought washing soda, but less expensive than the mail-order washing soda, so this is a cost savings only if you can't find washing soda in your store for about $6.00 or less for a 55 oz box.
Since the heating process is easy (just dump two cups of baking soda in an oven-proof glass casserole dish and leave it in the top rack of the oven for 1-2 weeks while you do your regular cooking) and it also saves me from searching the stores for washing soda, I enjoy the extra savings of making my own washing soda. Making life easier while saving money ... now that's The Fat Dollar way!
Costs used in the calculations:
Baking Soda from Sam's Club - $6.68 for a 13.5 lb bag
Oven heat - gas oven - $.34/hour (heated to 375 degrees)
Mail - order washing soda - Amazon.com $10.39 for 55 ounces, including shipping
Store purchased washing soda - $2.99 for 55 ounces (estimated cost; I still have not found washing soda in my local northern Indiana stores)
Average loads of laundry per week = 5
Average use of washing soda per load = 3/8 cup
The Fat Dollar's Previous Articles on Making Washing Soda from Baking Soda:
National Research Center Inc., Boulder, Colorado, A National Study of Water & Energy Consumption in Multifamily Housing http://www.laundrywise.com/downloads/Water_Energy%20Survey.pdf
California Energy Commission - Consumer Energy Center - Appliances- Clothes Washers http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/appliances/washers.html
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