Author Topic: Making Your Own Washing Soda [Sodium Carbonate] Out of Baking Soda [Sodium BiCarbonate]  (Read 52384 times)

Offline ~CKMom~

  • Adept
  • Posts: 291
Baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) slowly turns into washing soda (Sodium Carbonate, a.k.a. soda ash) when heated above 140 degrees F. The carbon dioxide released is what makes things rise. If you heat baking soda to 350-400 degrees, it’ll turn into washing soda fairly quickly.

I've tried using baking soda in the place of washing soda, but it doesn't seem to do the trick - I've had to experiment to see what will work with our well water to clean clothes over a long period of time.  I hate the dingy clothes that happen with homemade detergent, but I want to stay as natural as possible.  (Charlie's Soap works well, but there was a significant price jump due to the fuel prices, and I need to rethink my options.) 

Anyways,   I am having trouble finding a reasonably-priced source of washing soda: my rural grocery stores and Wally World have stopped carrying it.  However, I can get 50# of sodium bicarb at the feed mill for $9.  If the above trick is valid, I would be thrilled.  Are there any chemistry people out there who can tell me if this will truly give the desired effect and really work for cleaning - specifically laundry?  Thanks!!

Offline healthybratt

  • administrator
  • Administrator
  • Guru
  • Posts: 11487
  • administrator
    • wouldn't you like to know?
Baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) slowly turns into washing soda (Sodium Carbonate, a.k.a. soda ash) when heated above 140 degrees F. The carbon dioxide released is what makes things rise. If you heat baking soda to 350-400 degrees, it’ll turn into washing soda fairly quickly.

I've tried using baking soda in the place of washing soda, but it doesn't seem to do the trick - I've had to experiment to see what will work with our well water to clean clothes over a long period of time.  I hate the dingy clothes that happen with homemade detergent, but I want to stay as natural as possible.  (Charlie's Soap works well, but there was a significant price jump due to the fuel prices, and I need to rethink my options.) 

Anyways,   I am having trouble finding a reasonably-priced source of washing soda: my rural grocery stores and Wally World have stopped carrying it.  However, I can get 50# of sodium bicarb at the feed mill for $9.  If the above trick is valid, I would be thrilled.  Are there any chemistry people out there who can tell me if this will truly give the desired effect and really work for cleaning - specifically laundry?  Thanks!!
This is intriguing.  If it works, washing soda becomes much cheaper.  This link says it releases carbon dioxide when heated (which explains why it's good for fires on the stove), so if you were doing a large batch, you'd want to ensure good ventilation??   ???
  My favorite herb book!!

Offline ~CKMom~

  • Adept
  • Posts: 291
I've seen this listed - in various forms - at several sites.  Some said not to do a large quantity at once, and others didn't mention it.  Now that I think about it, the ones that seemed to be a little more technical in their explanation were the ones that said not to do huge quantities, rather than the ones that were more anecdotal.  Still, I've only seen it mentioned about 4-5 times on the web from what I could find; that's why I asked.

One site did say that since the water molecules are released from the baking soda with heating, to be sure and place it in an airtight container to ensure that the water is not added back in.

One site I saw this afternoon said that you could heat a small amout in the microwave for about 10 seconds for the same effect.  This is all news to me!

Offline healthybratt

  • administrator
  • Administrator
  • Guru
  • Posts: 11487
  • administrator
    • wouldn't you like to know?
I've seen this listed - in various forms - at several sites.  Some said not to do a large quantity at once, and others didn't mention it.  Now that I think about it, the ones that seemed to be a little more technical in their explanation were the ones that said not to do huge quantities, rather than the ones that were more anecdotal.  Still, I've only seen it mentioned about 4-5 times on the web from what I could find; that's why I asked.

One site did say that since the water molecules are released from the baking soda with heating, to be sure and place it in an airtight container to ensure that the water is not added back in.

One site I saw this afternoon said that you could heat a small amout in the microwave for about 10 seconds for the same effect.  This is all news to me!
Airtight container. ??? During or after cooking?  If you try it or find more info, let us know what you decide.
  My favorite herb book!!

Offline healthybratt

  • administrator
  • Administrator
  • Guru
  • Posts: 11487
  • administrator
    • wouldn't you like to know?
Read these links.

http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=16485&highlight=baking%2Bsoda

http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/f58/cooking-baking-soda-93757.html

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/april2004/chem.htm

Quote

When you bake with baking soda it breaks down to give off carbon dioxide and that leaves you with washing soda. Washing soda does not taste very nice so you find recipes use baking soda when there are other strong flavours to mask the soapy taste.
http://www.suzy.co.nz/suzysworld/Factpage.asp?FactSheet=16

WOW...I'm convinced and excited.  I'm almost out of washing soda and baking soda is so much cheaper and according to the one website, much safer because it's food grade.  ;D

  My favorite herb book!!

Offline ~CKMom~

  • Adept
  • Posts: 291
Thank you for looking up those sites!  I'm convinced, too!  This is kind of exciting!  Although, I will probably use the baking soda that I can get at the feed mill, since it is so much cheaper.  (It's food grade - for cattle! ;D)  This makes me wonder why this isn't more widely known, since sometimes people have trouble finding washing soda.  2 years ago there were 2 stores in our town of 5000 that sold it; now neither of them do, and the stores in bigger towns around us don't either including Wally World.  It's nice to know that it doesn't matter!

Thanks again, HB!  If it's good enough for you, it's good enough for me!

Offline hi_itsgwen

  • Master
  • Posts: 1428
    • Gwen's Nest
Here is some other research on Soda Ash, Sodium Carobonate (Super Washing Soda).  Maybe some of this is helpful in deciphering the chemical make up and such.  (I've been reading up on baking soda for cleaning purposes, so this rang some bells on sites that have commented on baking soda and washing soda):

Everything you'd even want to know about Arm & Hammer baking soda:
http://www.armhammer.com/basics/magic

Quote
Baking Soda, alias sodium bicarbonate, is a naturally occurring substance that is found in all living things, where it helps regulate their pH balance. ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda is made from soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate. To make ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda, the soda ash is mined in the form of an ore called trona. The soda ash is then dissolved into a solution through which carbon dioxide is bubbled and sodium bicarbonate precipitates out, forming "Pure, Safe and Natural" ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda.

And some other sites:
Quote
Soda ash is the active ingredient in washing soda. The chemical name for it is sodium carbonate, chemical formula Na2CO3. It is more basic, that is, less acidic, than sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), whose chemical formula is NaHCO3. The purpose of sodium carbonate is simply to increase pH.

Hydration
Some forms of soda ash (e.g. that labeled as 'washing soda') contain more water molecules than others, which makes them weigh more and be larger for a given number of sodium carbonate molecules - this means that you need to measure out a larger quantity of the hydrated form in order to get the same results. If you buy sodium carbonate without the extra water molecules, then store it for several years in humid conditions, it will absorb some water and appear to lose strength, when in fact it has merely 'bulked up' and needs to be used in larger volumes.

The type of sodium carbonate used in washing soda is a decahydrate, so you need to use a lot more washing soda than you would anhydrous soda ash, perhaps three times as much - assuming that you are able to find pure unadulterated washing soda that is suitable for use in dyeing. (In theory, we should use 2.7 times as much washing soda as a substitute for soda ash, if measuring by weight, or 4.6 times as much if measuring by volume.)

Where can you buy soda ash?
Although you can buy washing soda in the grocery store, this is usually advised against, because some US brands in the past were known to contain optical brighteners, salt, and/or fragrances. However, Arm & Hammer brand "Super Washing Soda" does not now contain any additives, though you must use a larger quantrity due to its greater hydration level (see above). A better source is a swimming pool supplies store, or a hardware store that carries some pool supplies, which will carry pure sodium carbonate (a popular brand is pH Up), sold for the purpose of increasing the pH of pool water. This is typically cheaper than mail-ordering from a dye supplier, and just as good. Beware of suppliers that try to sell you sodium bicarbonate instead of sodium carbonate; bicarbonate is much less basic (it has a lower pH), and will not work for most dyeing recipes.

http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/FAQ/sodaash.shtml

Quote
"Arm and Hammer has a product called Super Washing Soda, which is baking soda ash. (The box doesn't say what it is, but my uncle who works at an Arm and Hammer factory was able to tell me what it was.) It is definitely different from sodium bicarbonate ("regular" baking soda, the edible kind!).

It can be found in the laundry aisle, and a medium-sized box (can't remember the weight) is a couple dollars.

It goes a long way. For those of you who haven't used washing soda before, be sure you don't use too much. Before I knew better, I would sprinkle washing soda on my laundry as the washer was filling with water, and one time, a piece of fabric got a hole in it from the soda. It's caustic. Use in SMALL amounts!! :)"

quote from Tammy at www.Tammysrecipes.com
http://www.tammysrecipes.com/homemade_laundry_soap_recipe#comment-2371

Quote
"you can buy soda ash alot cheaper at a farmers coop instead of the pool store."
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Can_baking_soda_be_used_instead_of_soda_ash_when_cleaning_a_pool

So there's my .02  :D  Maybe the pool supply place or farm supply store can save you the work and some money!

« Last Edit: September 24, 2008, 04:43:58 PM by hi_itsgwen »
Come see me at www.gwens-nest.com
♥ Check out our family favorite recipes, funny kid stories, natural remedies and other creative and fun stuff.

Offline corriebeth

  • Adept
  • Posts: 115
We'd been learning about Daniel at youth group (DH is a youth pastor) and recently my 3 yo DS said, "Mommy, I had a worse dream and it troubled me... "

Nebuchadnezzar, anyone?