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A Brief History of Baking Soda

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Jessica
09.22.12

We’ve touted the many uses of baking soda for cooking and cleaning, but do you know when it became a household staple? It turns out baking soda has been around since before the Great Pyramid of Giza was built, so it’s racked up quite a story.

     

Photo: Lifehackery / Real Simple

Here’s a brief history of baking soda.

3500 BC: Ancient Egyptians use natron (primarily comprised of sodium carbonate) as a soap-like cleaning agent. They also use it to make mummies.

1843: Alfred Bird, a British chemist, makes the first version of baking powder to help out his wife, who was allergic to yeast.

1846: The Arm & Hammer brand is created. The iconic logo that exists today – which represents Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metalworking – isn’t introduced until 1867.

1927: National magazines like Good Housekeeping and McCall’s begin promoting the usefulness of baking soda in the home.

1970: Arm & Hammer is the sole sponsor of the very first Earth Day. Baking soda gains attention as an eco-friendly alternative to chemical cleaners.

1972: A new use for baking soda receives widespread adoption – Americans begin storing a box of baking soda in their refrigerators to keep food fresh.

1986: To celebrate the Statue of Liberty’s 100th birthday, its inner copper walls are cleaned and restored with baking soda, which removes 99 years of grime and leaves the copper undamaged and completely clean.

2000: Things come full circle, and kids begin using baking soda to mummify things like hot dogs for science projects.

Today, baking soda can be found in almost any home. It’s an ingredient in toothpaste, laundry detergent, cat litter, deodorant and antacids. It’s also a main ingredient in fire extinguishers – that’s why baking soda is an excellent way to squelch a grease fire!

Here are a few of our favorite uses for baking soda:

  1. Polish Your Silverware

  2. Unclog Your Showerhead

  3. De-Stink  Your Disposal

  4. Maintain Your Mattress

  5. Un-Funk Furniture
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