Here we look at baking soda and answer some questions about what it is, why it is used and dive further into its suitability when it comes to use in natural deodorant formulations.
What is baking soda and what are it’s uses?
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a salt composed of sodium and bicarbonate. It can be found in large quantities in evaporated lake basins, such as the Piceance Basin in Colorado where it naturally occurs as a sodium compound called nahcolite. Baking soda can also be manufactured from another naturally occurring compound called trona or even made by modifying the state of table salt. It has many uses around the home but is most known for its use in cooking where it acts as a leavening agent which aids in the expansion of cake batter and the like. Baking soda can be found in several products, such as personal care products (deodorants, toothpaste, bath products, cleansers, soap), medicinal products (including skin treatments), baked goods, and even kitty litter. Baking soda is also taken for heartburn and upset stomachs. Amongst other things it is also excellent at removing odors. It truly is an incredibly versatile substance.
How does baking soda remove odors?
Baking soda is amazing at removing odors but how does it do this? Most smells are acidic in nature, and baking soda can act as a pH neutralizer. So essentially baking soda is perfect at neutralising the acids that cause bad smells.
Is baking soda OK to use on my skin?
The National Eczema Association recommends adding a quarter-cup of baking soda to your bath as a common treatment used to help relieve itchy eczema. Parenting dot com advises that a baking soda bath can be used to treat bad diaper rash for babies. As you know, or could probably imagine, eczema and baby diaper rash can be super sensitive and need to be treated with the utmost care. The fact that these trusted authorities, and many others, recommend using baking soda as a soothing treatment (in a specific dosage) for these skin conditions clearly indicates that not only is baking soda well tolerated by sensitive skin but more to the fact that when administered in the correct dose baking soda is a beneficial agent in aiding in the treatment of these particularly sensitive skin conditions. However, it must be noted that to unlock baking sodas wonderful abilities in body care applications one aspect becomes of utmost importance, and that is selecting a suitable dosage quantity. When it comes to topical applications of ingredients for skin conditions this can sometimes become a balancing act between performance and tolerance… too little and the formulation may be ineffective… too much and it may irritate the condition more. The same can be said when it comes to the use of baking soda in natural deodorants.
OK so what is the correct dosage rate of baking soda in a formulation?
So we now understand that in the correct dosage baking soda is gentle enough to be recommended for use on babies diaper rash when added to bath water. When it comes to discovering the correct baking soda dosage rate for other formulations it really comes down to finding a balance between effectiveness and tolerance/receptivity (just as with many elements in life balance is often the key). A prime example of finding a balance can be found with something that we all rely on and that is oxygen. We as humans usually function well with the 21% oxygen level in the air but if that level falls below 19.5% oxygen then we can start to become oxygen deficient and when concentrations fall to around 6-8% oxygen or below then death can occur in a matter of minutes. At the other end of the scale, too much oxygen can also be bad for us too, and in some situations oxygen levels above 50% can start to cause oxygen toxicity (oxygen poisoning) which in some instances can be harmful to our wellbeing and in extreme cases even result in death. Fascinating to think that something as critical to our existence as oxygen needs to be so carefully balanced to the point that if we have too little, or even in some instances too much, then it could be the end of us. Selecting the correct dosage rate of baking soda in a formulation is also a balancing act, and although the consequences are obviously not quite as extreme as with the balancing act of oxygen in our environment it can still be a tricky thing to perfect. Correct baking soda dosage really depends on many factors which can include things like the effectiveness of any other active ingredients, the type of carrier or delivery agents used, how the different ingredients work together when blended, and even the manufacturing process used to blend and harmonize the formulation. It really comes down to rigorous testing and strict manufacturing control processes. And then to complicate things further there is also the need to understand the broad spectrum of end users out there with all their different skin types and body compositions. It truly is an iterative and often very drawn-out process that can take months, or even years, to perfect and as such patience, determination and adaptability of the formulator often become the key ingredients in the successful outcome of an effective yet gentle formulation.
Baking soda is an amazing yet often misunderstood ingredient that can be gentle enough to treat sensitive conditions such as diaper rash on a baby yet also versatile enough to effectively help control underarm odor in adults. When it comes to the use of baking soda as an ingredient in natural deodorants it is an excellent choice but the key is really finding a product where the formulator understands the balance between an ingredient and the human body’s receptivity towards that ingredient. It’s like discovering that harmonious 21% oxygen level in the atmosphere which is perfect for human existence without pushing the dosage too far either way. And when you find that balance, as Mother Nature did with our correct dosage of oxygen in our environment, then it’s a beautiful thing.
As a final note, we are all different and so are our bodies. When selecting a product that you are applying to your body sometimes one size does not always fit all. We all have difference body responses to different substances, just as some people have nut allergies and some don't. Listen to your body, it'll often tell you if it likes a product of not or if it's effective or not. Hey, even with the utmost care and testing some products may not be suitable for every single body on this planet given our individual genetic diversity... a diversity which also makes each of us beautifully unique in our own special way.
Thanks for reading.