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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap with Baking Soda? May be better for cloth diapers

So I have written about making your own laundry detergent for 2.5 cents a load and the difficulty of finding washing soda. (BTW - great stain fighting detergent - I bought a little lacy dress complete with come yucky stains for black and white pictures from thrift store, but the stains came out with this stuff no pretreating.)

I had someone comment on that post that they bought the baking soda from the laundry aisle and if it were possible to make it with this. I initially wanted to say since they aren't the same thing (washing soda = sodium carbonate, baking soda = sodium bicarbonate) that it wouldn't work.

(Be careful of price; at my store, the huge box of baking soda in the laundry aisle was actually more per ounce then the medium off-brand box of baking soda in the baking aisle.)

But I looked it up, found these sites:
Baking Soda or Washing Soda
or Baking soda vs. Washing soda

Plus looking around on other threads, I have seen comments on turning baking soda into washing soda by baking it (although the cost of electricity here may not be worth it), and a few who makes the detergent with baking soda and believe it to be fine as follows:

"If you are unable to find washing soda (sodium carbonate), you can make washing soda from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) by heating baking soda in baking dish in the oven. Heat the baking soda in an ordinary oven at 300°F for 1-2 hours. Overheating is not a problem, either with higher temperatures or baking times. Be sure to NOT use baking powder. Baking powder is a different than baking soda."
"I have used baking soda instead, because sometimes washing soda is hard to find in my area. It seems to work really well."

UPDATE: Had a lady with a Chemist hubby explain that simply baking baking soda would not work, I am not a chemist (the only class I purposely avoided in school!), so here is what she said:
"I was curious about the suggestion to heat baking soda in the oven in order to turn it into washing soda. I checked it out with my husband (a chemist), and he said that won't work... you'd have to add lye to force a reaction in which a hydrogen atom is driven off the sodium bicarbonate. So, heating baking soda in the oven won't change it at all (really, if it did, the baked goods we use it in would end up inedible). Just thought I'd share to save people the electricity!"

UPDATE #2: From the Comments.
Hmmm... that chemistry is incorrect. When heated to 70 degrees celsius and above, sodium bicarbonate(baking soda) decomposes to sodium carbonate(washing soda),carbon dioxide and water. By 200 degrees it has been fully decomposed to sodium carbonate. Putting baking soda into a 200 degree celsius oven WILL decompose it to washing soda.

So, baking soda is decomposed by heat and no, baked goods it is used in do not end up inedible because in the recipe an acid ingredient is included for the baking soda to react with. Baking soda reacts with acids to produce a salt, carbon dioxide and water(it also reacts with bases as it is amphoteric). So in baking, it reacts with the acid present to produce a salt, and this reaction produces the carbon dioxide needed to rise the baked good.


Plus, my mom always used Borax with a bit of detergent when I was a kid, perhaps you can just forgo the washing soda since borax and washing soda's purposes are similar or replace it with baking soda?

So, I just put one of my toughest laundry loads in the washer and put in this detergent (I eyeballed these measurements since I wasn't ready to make another batch of soap): 1/4 T grated soap, 1/4 T baking soda, 1/2 T borax. Seems clean to me! If I ever have another kid, I might consider doing this for cloth diaper washing.

You know, I am always put off by or leery of any company or person that says "You must use this, there is no other way or dun dun dun something terrible will happen!!" Sometimes the wisdom of old is wrong (not washing hands with soap in hospitals created high death rates) but sometimes it isn't. How many companies would be bankrupt if they let people know that their items are not the best way to go? They spend millions of advertising dollars to convince you that said product is the only way you want to go; it is needed. They are not going to advertise even in tiny print that instead of using said product you can just mix water, vinegar and soap and use that since that is what their product basically is anyway. They couldn't sell you the $3 bottle it comes in. (And is it just me or have others found that when they've bought cleaning spray bottle products, the silly squirt mechanism died before I ran out of the product?) So if you can't find washing soda, try baking soda out in the mix for awhile (I'd increase the borax amount I think) and see how it goes, it isn't that expensive.

All right, I am stepping off my soap box now. :P

9 comments:

tami said...

this is how i make mine :) no washing soda to be found in my area!

Jessica said...

I found your blog recently and am now totally addicted! Thanks for sharing so much valuable information.

I wanted to make laundry powder yesterday and had a heck of a time finding washing soda. Apparently Arm & Hammer has an 800 number you can call to get location info.

I was curious about the suggestion to heat baking soda in the oven in order to turn it into washing soda. I checked it out with my husband (a chemist), and he said that won't work... you'd have to add lye to force a reaction in which a hydrogen atom is driven off the sodium bicarbonate. So, heating baking soda in the oven won't change it at all (really, if it did, the baked goods we use it in would end up inedible). Just thought I'd share to save people the electricity!

I've whipped up a batch with baking soda instead, and Ivory soap. My soap made small clumps in the food processor. I read that another woman suggested letting the soap dry, unwrapped, for about a week before trying to use it. I'm going to try that for my next batch.

Thanks again for such a wonderful site! The vacuum cleaner bag is also underway!

Jessica

MJ said...

Thanks Jessica (I avoided Chemistry in school) so I posted part of your comment in the post itself in case people don't read the comments.

I think the consistency of baking soda compared to washing soda may have been what caused the clumping? However, I only put the soap itself in the food processor and mixed the rest up by hand, maybe that would help.

Jessica said...

Thanks for your quick reply, MJ! I only put the soap in the food processor, too. I think it was too moist. I'm going to try grating the soap and letting it sit exposed to the air for a week before processing it. Several people have said this results in soap with a much more powdery consistency.

I love having a husband who knows about chemistry!!!

Thanks again.
Jessica

Jenny said...

You can call the Arm & Hammer company to find where washing soda is in your area. Call 1-800-524-1328 and give them your zip code and the UPC code (33200-03020) and they'll tell you which stores sell it.

You can also find it among swimming pool supplies, since it's used to raise the PH of pool water. I think PH plus was one brand. Just look at the ingredients and some will say 100% washing soda, soda ash, or sodium carbonate.

That said, since washing soda is more alkaline than baking soda it will work better for cleaning, but baking soda does still work.

Jukic Family said...

Okay - so I just found this blog and am REALLY excited.

I did find a recipe for laundry detergent using baking soda (not washing soda). 2 gallons of hot water, 1 bar of grated soap, 2 cups of baking soda. I am going to add some drops of tea tree oil and lavendar oil as well.

This is great for me since I live in a foreign country and can't find Arm & Hammer or Borax. I am giving it a try today to see how it works. If it does, I'll be switching as soon as I run out of my Tide. :)

lily said...

Hmmm... that chemistry is incorrect. When heated to 70 degrees celsius and above, sodium bicarbonate(baking soda) decomposes to sodium carbonate(washing soda),carbon dioxide and water. By 200 degrees it has been fully decomposed to sodium carbonate. Putting baking soda into a 200 degree celsius oven WILL decompose it to washing soda.

So, baking soda is decomposed by heat and no, baked goods it is used in do not end up inedible because in the recipe an acid ingredient is included for the baking soda to react with. Baking soda reacts with acids to produce a salt, carbon dioxide and water(it also reacts with bases as it is amphoteric). So in baking, it reacts with the acid present to produce a salt, and this reaction produces the carbon dioxide needed to rise the baked good.

Chemistry is wonderful, don't be afraid of it lol.

Haines, party of 4 said...

I use baking soda to wash all of my clothes. I buy the store brand in the baking aisle and use 1/4 cup per load. I have an 11m old and a 2.5 year old and it gets their grungy clothes clean! No added soaps, washing soda, etc!

Unknown said...

Just to add to what Lily said, Sodium carbonate (washing soda will turn into carbon dioxide and sodium oxide if heated to 851 °C.

Na2CO3 → Na2O + CO2

So dont you go heating your oven to 851C°, and you should be fine ;)