How to Convert Baking Soda to Washing Soda

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In some past videos I talk about the difference between Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) and Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate), and how the two are not interchangeable in soap and other recipes.

In some of the hygiene videos I also talk about how hard it is to find Washing Soda at the big box chain stores. I have been looking for a way to get around this, and the solution (once I figured out the right search terms) was surprising simple.

Lets show how to change Baking Soda to Washing Soda.

  • Basically, the difference between baking soda and washing soda is water and carbon dioxide.
  • 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 you add heat energy, baking soda breaks down to release steam and carbon dioxide from the soda and what you have left is washing soda.

When baking soda is heated up to high temperatures, it breaks down to become washing soda, water steam, and carbon dioxide.

As a word of precaution, you don’t want to do this in large quantities, and you don’t want to put your face right over the pot – as the carbon dioxide displaces oxygen and you could conceivably pass out and/or suffocate.

Here is the VERY simple procedure

  • Fill a wide baking dish with baking soda.
  • Heat in the oven at 400 degrees until all the baking soda becomes washing soda.
  • Occasionally mix it so that this process happens faster and more uniformly. (The process starts at about 140, but within reason the higher the heat the faster the transformation)

Once it is done, you will notice a difference between the two.

  • Baking soda is white. Powdery, and will clump together.
  • Washing soda is greyer, grainer, and is duller.

Store your washing soda in an airtight container away from moisture. Also remember it is a stronger base and is not as safe as baking soda.

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