What is baking soda? What are its health benefits?

Baking soda is one of the most used chemicals in the world. Most of the houses have a pinch of it somewhere, for a wide range of uses. It is known in various names like bread soda and cooking soda. The scientific name of the substance is Sodium Bicarbonate. It is basically a salt composed of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. It is normally found in solid state, either in the form of crystals or as a fine powder. The natural mineral form of baking soda is nahcolite.
Baking soda has been in use for several centuries in different forms, though the industrial production was started in 1846, when two bakers from New York, John Dwight and Austin Church, established a factory to develop the chemical from sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide. The production process of baking soda is known as solvay process.
As said earlier, baking soda has a great variety of uses and is said to have numerous health benefits. It can be used to kill pests as well as to remove paint and corrosion. It is also used as a disinfectant and fire extinguisher in small scale, not to mention cooking. The name itself is attributed to its use in baking in which the chemical is used as a leavening agent. When mixed with an acid, baking soda reacts to it and releases carbon dioxide gas, which causes the dough to expand and rise.
Some of its properties make it useful in medical fields as well. It is perfect for some home remedies, considering how cheap it is. For example, it can be used as a natural deodorant. It is also used to treat allergic reaction to plants such as poison ivy and the stings caused by insect bites.
Baking soda is often used to remove skin splinters. Applying the it on the splinters daily will produce a result in a few days. It also find a use in exfoliating the skin as well as a soaking bath. The chemical has been found to kill streptococcus mutans bacteria that causes tooth decay and is found in many toothpastes in tiny amounts. It also contributes to whitening the teeth. Another use for baking soda is as a supplement to athletes, particularly in speed-based events.
The chemical is used in treating some diseases as well, such as hyperkalemia. It is an excellent substance to alleviate problems with indigestion and pain related to ulcers. Some even have proposed it as a cure of cancer, but that is yet to be proven.
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