Baking soda, more formally known as sodium bicarbonate and sometimes as soda ash, is an all-purpose workhorse. Not only is it used for cleaning and cooking, but it also has a handful of personal health benefits you might find useful. These include work as an antacid, itchy skin reliever, teeth whitener and sports performance enhancement. There's even some evidence baking soda improves kidney function. It's one of the most widely used industrial chemicals in the world, second only to salt.
Make a paste or cleaning solution with baking soda to use it for its hygienic properties. A teaspoon of baking soda with a half a glass of water can freshen your breath and relieve the pain of canker sores. In addition, you can clean your dentures or retainer in a similar solution. Take advantage of baking soda's abrasive qualities by using it as a toothpaste to clean and whiten your teeth. You could also use the mildly abrasive paste to remove makeup and clean your face. Some people also add a half-cup of baking soda to the washing machine for water-softening purposes.
Relieve your irritated skin with baking soda. Apply a paste of baking soda and water to sunburned skin, insect bites, rashes, bee stings, irritation of poison ivy and generally itchy skin.
Use baking soda for its ability to neutralize acids. You can purchase baking soda tablets that act as antacids and relieve heart burn and acid indigestion. Dissolve the tablets in water according to the label of the product you purchase. In kidney disease patients suffering from metabolic acidosis, baking soda tablets helped improve kidney function, according to a 2009 study published in the "Journal of the American Society of Nephrology." Don't attempt to self-medicate, however. Those study participants received additional care from their doctors and you should too.
Improve your sports performance by taking baking soda tablets dissolved in about 16 oz. of water. That's what a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine did with a group of runners. For some, it shaved a few seconds off their running time, enough to make it an attractive --- although controversial --- performance enhancement tool.