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 a few 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 or can be found on Amazon, 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 from Penny at Penniless Parenting that you can actually turn baking soda into washing soda, simply by baking it!
I know, it sounds weird, but just bear 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. That’s it! See? I told you it was simple! Now you can go make liquid laundry detergent, powdered laundry detergent, and dishwasher detergent, without worrying about where to score your next box of washing soda.
EDIT: Please let me take this moment to publicly apologize to Penny, from Penniless Parenting for inadvertently not linking back to her post, as she is the original author for the information contained in this post. I had linked back to her site, but because of an error in the html, the link below was rendered un-linkable on the front end of the site. Needless to say, this was brought to my attention by Penny, as well as a few other commenters, which I’m very grateful for, as it allowed me to fix the problem and publicly address this issue. I did NOT intend to withhold credit from Penny, and anyone who reads my site regularly knows that I always link back to the original post, if indeed I borrowed from another blogger. I also should clarify that after this whole issue happened, I changed some wording around to include the direct quotes from Penny, as well as added her name to the post (kind of a gesture to apologize for the broken link). Whereas before, I had summarized her words, I later changed it to some direct quotes, to make it very clear that I wasn’t trying to plagiarize her work. You may read my entire apology to Penny in the comments below this post. Thanks!
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