6 Noteworthy Myths and Facts About Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)

Arm and Hammer corner the market on this simple little powder, originally popularized to simply leaven breads using chemicals instead of biological enzymes (yeasts). How Arm and Hammer got their simple alkaline salt into all kinds of other markets since the late 80’s is incredible. It is touted as many things, but how many of these things are stretches, and how many of them are actually practical? Some of the proposed uses I’m going over are pretty good and some of them are just ridiculous.

Nontoxic Deodorizing: One of the most common alternative uses for baking soda is using it for a deodorizer in your refrigerator, pantry, or closet.

Weak win

Baking soda has mild odor absorbing qualities. It can be slightly effective at absorbing simple alkaline and oil odors and neutralizing acidic odors over a (very) long period of time. The first problem is that sodium bicarbonate is an extremely mild alkali so it won’t pack much of a punch fighting acid based odors and this same mildness prevents it from quickly absorbing alkaline odors. The second problem is that once the exposed area is saturated, it doesn’t work any more. The third problem is that it has little to no effect on complex odors and those are the most problematic ones. If you have a stinky fridge or cupboard, just take the food out of it and clean the darn thing, baking soda isn’t going to cut it.

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Brewing Cyser, (Possibly) the Oldest Beverage Recipe on Earth

I thought I’d bring up an amazing lesser-known brew called cyser. This beverage has ancient origin and can be the most amazing beverage you will ever touch to your tongue. Using the right apples and a good quality honey can create a rich, crisp, even buttery apple flavor that will likely make you regret having to swallow each sip. Cyser is usually produced in very small batches commercially and it is pretty darn hard to find a bottle to buy short of importing it from a small meadery somewhere in Europe. There is actually an eHow article on how to find it and buy it, if you want to skip the brewing and go straight to the tasting, but I don’t recommend that when it is so rewarding to make your own – not to mention cheaper; I’ve seen $60 32 oz.bottles of the (real) stuff on e-Bay.

The origins of cyser are traced back to the prime days of mead, about 8000 years ago. This was the original apple cider. Thousands of years later, Druids popularized the apple in Europe and the apple brewing Renaissance began, resulting in variety after variety of cider – the main alcoholic beverage of the people until the late 1800’s. Apple orchards actually paid part of their wages in pints of apple cider to their workers. Cyser is beyond apple cider though, and worth the extra effort, I think. Brewing cyser is a reenactment of an ancient tradition.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Marco Hamersma

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