Baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda, and vinegar are among the most common and most useful acids and alkalies to be found in the house and they can be turned to any number of uses, from cleaning and polishing to science experiments. They offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to many commercial cleaning products and can be a real help to people who suffer from allergies.
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Vinegar as a Cleaner
Vinegar is especially good at cleaning off sticky, gummy residues left behind by things like price labels and stickers. It is also good at breaking down lime scale and hard water marks. Mix it in equal measure with hot water and apply with a cloth over the affected surface. For more serious lime scale deposits soak the offending item in the mixture if possible, or if not, use undiluted vinegar. Mix vinegar and salt to a paste and use it to polish copper surfaces, or boil aluminium items in a mixture of vinegar and water to bring back their shine.
Baking Soda as a Cleaner
Baking soda poured onto an abrasive cloth also acts as a good surface cleaner, especially on grease and soap scum. You can also use it to replace some of the washing powder you use in your washing machine. Substitute about half the powder with baking soda for a cheaper, greener alternative.
Remedies for Bee and Wasp Stings
Mix baking soda into a thick paste and rub over a bee sting to neutralise its acidity and reduce the stinging. Pour vinegar over a wasp sting to do the same thing. Don't get the two confused as this will make things worse. Just remember: Bee (or "B") for Baking Soda.
Baking Soda for Heartburn
Baking soda is an effective antacid that can neutralise the excess stomach acid that causes heartburn. A teaspoon of soda mixed with 1/4 cup of water will get rid of a bad case of acid indigestion. However, if you find yourself using this concoction regularly to combat indigestion, or if you have any additional symptoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Mixing baking soda and vinegar together produces a powerful neutralisation reaction in which a volume of carbon dioxide gas is released. You can put this reaction to great effect in various experiments to do with kids. Mix a little vinegar and baking soda in an old film canister, quickly snap on the lid and place the canister upside down on the floor. The reaction and the gas produced will pop off the lid and make the canister fly up into the air.
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