What makes Sodium Bicarbonate a miracle cleaner?

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Offline bizerl

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What makes Sodium Bicarbonate a miracle cleaner?
« on: 13/08/2012 07:00:14 »
Everytime I use bicarb to clean pots and pans etc, I'm amazed it's not being sold on some late-night TV show as the new wonder cleaner that's so safe you can eat it!

It seems to remove tough stains easier than just detergent and a scourer. At first I thought it was the "grit" of the particles "sanding" the muck off, but if that was the case, a scourer would be enough, wouldn't it? Is there anything chemically going on to help the bicarb lift baked-on grease?

Also, is there a difference between sodium bicarbonate, bicarb soda and baking soda, other than the names?

Also (three questions in one thread - I know, I know!) how is bicarb manufactered?


Offline evan_au

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Re: What makes Sodium Bicarbonate a miracle cleaner?
« Reply #1 on: 13/08/2012 11:17:09 »
Trusty old Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_bicarbonate#As_a_cleaning_agent
Also covers the chemical composition, naming & manufacture.
Unfortunately, it doesn't cover the mechanical vs chemical aspects of cleaning very well...

When we clean food utensils:
  • water-soluble scraps wash off in water
  • Hard or baked-on scraps can benefit from the mechanical abrasion of bicarb soda
  • bicarb soda can help neutralise acidic or alkaline materials, due to its "amphoteric" nature
  • it can damage the surface of aluminium pans
  • oil-soluble scraps will continue to need a traditional detergent to suspend them in water
« Last Edit: 13/08/2012 22:13:04 by evan_au »


Offline bigblock

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Re: What makes Sodium Bicarbonate a miracle cleaner?
« Reply #2 on: 14/08/2012 00:21:36 »
It can also replace soda ash for use in swimming pools. It's far cheaper than soda ash too. It seems that there are many uses of sodium bicarbonate.


Offline damocles

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Re: What makes Sodium Bicarbonate a miracle cleaner?
« Reply #3 on: 30/08/2012 14:45:12 »
Sodium bicarbonate is a relatively cheap and easy material to make. The reasons that it is an excellent cleaning agent, especially for ovens and "baked on" material on the surfaces of cookware include

1. It is sold in the form of fairly fine powdery crystals which are slightly but not very water soluble. A slurry of sodium bicarbonate is a good scouring agent.

2. It is slightly alkaline. Baked on cooking residues are complicated mixtures of organic substances, but many of them are acids. When sodium bicarbonate interacts with acids in the residues, bubbles of carbon dioxide form right in the surface contamination, which can help lift it.

3. The other product of reaction between sodium bicarbonate and organic acids is the sodium salts of these acids. These salts are, of their own nature, surfactant soaps and detergents, which do not have to find their way into the contamination, as externally applied soaps or detergents would; they are already in position when they form, particularly well placed to perform their detergent action and lift dirt from the surface.
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