Well, as the title says, we’re turning baking soda into washing soda this week. A good number of my homemade products require the use of washing soda, but for every item I post that uses washing soda, I always get at least 5 or 10 comments asking where you can find it. It’s true, sometimes it’s a little hard to find – even I had trouble the first time around. (It’s usually in the laundry aisle, by the way.)
But for those who live in rural areas, or without large grocery stores, it’s still hard to track down. So in my search for the best place to buy washing soda for one of our readers, I stumbled upon this idea that you can actually turn baking soda into washing soda, simply by baking it!
I know, it sounds weird, but just bare with me. As Penny explains,
The difference between baking soda and washing soda is water and carbon dioxide. Seriously. Baking soda’s chemical makeup is NaHCO3 (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, one carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). Washing soda’s chemical makeup is Na2CO3 (2 sodium, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). When baking soda is heated up to high temperatures, it breaks down to become washing soda, water steam, and carbon dioxide.
So, the steam and carbon dioxide are released during the cooking process, leaving you with… washing soda!
See? Now, don’t I sound all smart and science-y?
The process is really simple. Just heat your oven to 400 F (or 200 C), sprinkle some baking soda on a shallow pan, and bake it for about half hour, until it changes composition. You should also stir it up occasionally, just so that it bakes more evenly.
So how do you know when it changes into washing soda? That part takes a little more work; just a closer, watchful eye. Once you know the differences between the 2 sodas, you’ll be able to tell in no time.
Penny breaks it down like this: Baking soda is powdery, crystallized like salt, and clumps together. Washing soda is grainy, dull and opaque, and is separate grains. You can see the difference below: baking soda on the left, and washing soda on the right.