It might not be the flashiest addition to a kitchen cabinet, but baking soda — fancy name, sodium bicarbonate — is a bona fide workhorse all around the house. And its ability to neutralize acids and bases gives this unassuming powder some truly unexpected uses. Note: Make sure not to mix up baking soda with baking powder, which has different chemical properties!

  • Scrub Your Veggies With Baking Soda (and Other Tips) Photo by Jordan Shakeshaft

    Make a fruit-and-veggie scrub. We’re tired of dirty produce! Add a few teaspoons of baking soda to water and use the solution to scrub fresh produce, which will help remove grit, pesticides, and whatever else made its way onto those vitamin-packed goodies. Rinse thoroughly afterward for fresh-tasting, clean produce.

  • Treat a sunburn. Add about a cup of baking soda to warm water and submerse affected skin for as long as desired to soothe the pain of sunburns.
  • Use it as an antacid. For regular heartburn victims or folks who ate a few too many tamales last night, baking soda is an effective antacid. Take 1/2 teaspoon in a full glass of water after meals for relief. Those watching their sodium might want to double check with a physician before taking this treatment, as baking soda contains a high amount of sodium.
  • Brush your teeth. Out of toothpaste? Make a thick baking soda paste using three-percent hydrogen peroxide solution. Scoop it up with a toothbrush for a quick and cheap substitute that could help kill harmful bacteria in the mouth A four-week clinical study to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of a baking soda dentrifrice and an antimicrobial dentrifice in reducing plaque. Ghassemi, A., Vorwerk, L.M., Hooper, W.J., et al. Church & Dwight Company. Princeton, NJ. The Journal of Clinical Dentistry. 2008;19(4):120-6. Antibacterial activity of baking soda. Drake, D. Dows Institute for Dental Research. Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry. 1997;18(21):S17-21;quiz S46..
  • Fight fires. We’re big fans of kitchen safety at Greatist, which is why we keep a box of baking soda handy whenever we cook. In the case of a grease fire or another small kitchen blaze, toss baking soda on the hot spot to help contain the flames. When heated, baking soda releases carbon dioxide, which helps stifle the fire.