Soda crystals, washing soda or sodium carbonate monohydrate, is a substance much stronger and alkaline than the well-known baking soda. Soda crystals do not release harmful fumes when handled or mixed with water, but you should always wear rubber gloves because it is a caustic product that can irritate your skin. Soda crystals can be used in the household as an alternative to commercial cleaning products, such as bleach, soaps and detergents, to remove stains, degrease materials, remove tarnish and unblock drains.
Soda crystals can be used to remove all kinds of stains in clothes and garden furniture, especially after the winter months. Dilute soda crystals in water and apply on the affected area, leave to work for half an hour and rinse. Soda crystals contain no enzymes, bleach or phosphates, but it can produce irritation in contact with your skin. You also can use a strong solution of soda crystal to remove grease, ink, blood, coffee and other heavy stains on clothes by soaking them for a while, before washing.
Soda crystals are a potent degreaser. When dissolved in hot water, they can remove burnt-on grease and food from grills, pans, tiles, ovens and barbecues. You also can use a solution of soda crystals to clean cooker hoods by applying a strong solution and wiping with a wet cloth after 10 to 15 minutes. Do not, however, use soda crystals on fibreglass, aluminium or waxed surfaces. You can prepare a regular solution using about 1/2 cup of soda crystals for every pint of water. For a strong solution, use 1 cup of soda crystals for every pint of water.
Tarnish is the result of a chemical reaction between the metal surface and oxygen. Over time, this layer of corrosion can form on metals, such as copper, brass and silver. You can remove tarnish from cutlery, jewellery and other metal objects with soda crystals by immersion in a concentrated solution. Do not immerse items containing precious stones or other materials to avoid damage. Always read the product's label to learn about the right concentration to use and take advice before immersing valuable items.
Use soda crystals to unblock toilet drains, waste pipes and gutters. You can pour the crystals directly into drains, leave for 20 minutes and then rinse with hot water. Soda crystals help to prevent blockage in toilets; you just need to flush some crystals down every month. The substance also is useful as a descaling agent, especially if you live in a hard-water area. You can descale a kettle by boiling a regular soda crystals solution with a raw potato inside for a few minutes. Do not forget to rinse it before use. Never use soda crystals in a kettle with internal aluminium components.