What useful thing does BAKING SODA actually do in home repair?

I keep hearing people suggest "baking soda", which is, as you know, simply sodium bicarbonate which you can get a five-pound bag of for about five bucks or so at Costco.
My question is more toward figuring out WHY I see baking soda mentioned as a panacea for almost everything from baby rash to automotive leak repair.
I've had my five pound bag for YEARs, where it will likely last me the rest of my natural life.
What can you DO with it if you don't own a pool?
Sure, you can use it in cooking, but this question is about home repair.
On another thread, someone said he was going to try "baking soda" to clean a toilet bowl, where I have to ask what on earth is baking soda going to do?
OK. SO it's a bit abrasive, but if that's all you want out of it, sugar would do as well, wouldn't it?
What baking soda is, is an alkaline (that is, not acid) bicarbonate, that is, it's "hard water" in dry form (sort of).
Other than the abrasive quality (which has nothing to do with the chemical action), what USEFUL things around the home (other than cooking) can baking soda do?
My question is more toward figuring out WHY I see baking soda mentioned as a panacea for almost everything from baby rash to automotive leak repair.
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On 11/16/2018 03:24 PM, arlen michael holder wrote:

It is a deodorizer.
http://bestcarpetcleanerreview.net/how-to-deodorize-carpet-five-ideas-that-really-work/
There are Glade makes some carpet powders with a fragrance but I find the fragrance cloying so straight baking soda is better. The Arm & Hammer 1 lb. boxes suggest opening it and putting it in the refrigerator to deal with food odors.
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On Fri, 16 Nov 2018 19:01:13 -0700, rbowman wrote:

Long ago I looked up the chemistry for how it "deodorizes". I don't think it actually deodorizes. People open the box and stick it in the frig, right?
Guess what. Opening the door for the fifteen seconds it takes to remove milk moves more air than could fit in that box, right?
a. I don't (yet) see how it can possibly deodorize, and, b. Even if it could, the surface area is too small to do anything useful.
It's sort of like saying Listerine kills millions of germs on contact. Guess what? Spitting just once gets rid of just as many germs. And spitting is free. And doesn't change the taste in your mouth.
If anyone can EXPLAIN how sodium bicarbonate "removes odors", that will be a feat.
Too many people, IMHO, believe stuff, IMHO, without thinking about it. I'm not blaming you as no good deed goes unpunished, so I realize you hazarded a guess ... but I've never been able to figure out HOW a 2x4 inch surface area of a carbonate can "deodorize" a 20 cubic foot refrigerator.
How? What's the chemistry? This thread is about chemistry.
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On Sat, 17 Nov 2018 02:31:11 -0000 (UTC), arlen michael holder wrote:

I just looked at the wikipedia, which, admittedly isn't a chemistry reference, but it's a start ... where ... it doesn't even list deoderizing as one of the many (miracle?) things it's supposed to do. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_bicarbonate
A search for "odor" shows it is used as a deoderant (which is completely different), and to remove odors from books (again, different), but only one "real" reference for oder removal (reference #65)
[65] Raymond, Jessica (June 10, 2016). "Kitchen Odor Eliminating Candles, Products, and Tricks". cravedujour.com. <http://cravedujour.com/kitchen-odor-eliminating-candles-products-tricks/#xxTICWbUEW5oLJeh.99
Of course, like most things on the net, the action is "imaginary" or "magical", in that "it just happens", without any explanation of how.
This hit explains a bit more... <https://www.quora.com/How-does-baking-soda-function-as-a-deodorizer "Baking soda reacts with most of the acids (e.g., formic, butyric, propionic, oxygen-cleaved beta-unsaturated free fatty acids) that have a characteristic rancid or sour odor, sequestering them in a much less volatile basic salt form while releasing odorless carbon dioxide."
That had three references: <https://oconto.uwex.edu/files/2011/02/Baking-Soda.pdf <https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/4465/how-does-sodium-bicarbonate-act-as-a-deodorizing-agent <https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/4451/deodorizing-using-baking-powder-instead-of-baking-soda
"Baking soda is an effective deodorant because of its basicity. Many foul-smelling compounds are acidic. Neutralizing the compound gives it an ionic character which reduces the vapor pressure (meaning it is less available for the nose to smell it) and makes it much more water soluble (it can be washed away)."
Notice that, if this is correct, ANY alkaline powder would work as well.
Worse, notice the counter argument posed in those references: "But when you take a look the Wikipedia page on aroma compounds, the only compounds that could possibly be affected by a weakly basic substance are esters (which would undergo hydrolysis). Most of the compounds are polyunsaturated aldehydes, ketones and alcohols which are not affected by (weak) bases. "
(There was talk in those articles about armpit odor, which I've studied extensively, and where I can say the problem set is completely different because of the complex nature of the human body - so we're only asking here about chemical smells and not biological smells).
The summary, so far, AFAICT, is o It doesn't really work, not the least of why is you can't spread it out o But if it did work it would only work on a small variety of acidic odors o And, even so, ANY weakly basic compound would work as well
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On 11/16/2018 08:01 PM, arlen michael holder wrote:

Most would not be amphoteric substances.
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On Fri, 16 Nov 2018 21:47:22 -0700, rbowman wrote:

I took organic, but it was in the 60s, so, I need to look that up. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphoterism "In chemistry, an amphoteric compound is a molecule or ion that can react both as an acid and as a base."
My chemistry is rusty, where I remember in the previous post that baking soda was pretty bad at being an acid, so it's not really amphoteric, most likely (I think).
Certainly the baking soda compound is NOT mentioned in that Wikipedia article on Amphoteric Substances. A bit more googling shows it's likely not amphoteric.
Anyway, even if it was, it's still gotta have more surface area than what is typically found in an open box stuck in the refrigerator. I would think you'd have to wipe it as a paste on every surface to have enough surface area to do anything to those odors that it "can" react with to turn into salts (and, of those, there are extremely few, it seems).
I'll keep looking though, as I just care about the answer.
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But baking soda is very readily available, most homes have it and its cheap and safe to use around the house so its hardly surprising that you do see it recommended for deodorising.

But its completely trivial to try baking soda with something smelly and see if it works. Tad radical, I realise.

Even sillier than you usually manage. There is no difference with the smells most want to get rid of from their fridge or kitchen.

Corse it does and its trivial to prove that.

Don’t need to if it absorbs the smell.

You havent established that only a small variety of smells are acidic.

But it’s the most readily available, stupid.
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On Sun, 18 Nov 2018 05:41:47 +1100, Rod Speed wrote:

Hi Rod Speed, This is true that baking soda is cheap & readily available.

As I said, I have a five pound Costco bag of the stuff. I've had it for YEARS.
There's even an open tray of it my wife put in the frig to control odors. It does nothing (AFAICT) but take up room best left for food! :)
But don't tell my wife that. (She doesn't understand chemistry.)

Why is US deodorant legally quite different than US anti-perspirant then?

Rod Speed ...
I provided chemistry-related references backing up EVERYTHING I said. Everything.
There's nothing I said that isn't backed up by the chemistry references. Where do your counter claims come from, Rod Speed?

It's interesting that the moment you find that your imaginary belief system is threatened by facts, you resort to childish ad hominem attacks.
I don't mind you having a counter opinion, but when you counter referenced facts with merely your counter opinion (interspersed with insults), then I realize that you must feel threatened by the facts.
I'm sorry you may feel that your belief system is threatened by facts. But they're still facts.
You're welcome to a counter argument, based on facts, but where are your facts, Rod Speed?
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Deodorant stops the odour, anti perspirant stops you perspiring which with some people stinks.

You didn’t with that.

That one wasn’t.

That isnt a counter claim, it’s a statement of fact.

Didn’t happen there, you pathetic excuse for a bullshit artist.

That is a statement of fact.

That isnt a fact and there was no reference either.

That isnt an opinion, it’s a statement of fact.

That isnt an insult its another fact, you are very stupid.

There is no fact there to be threatened by.

That isnt a fact, its just another of your pathetic excuses for a troll.

You deleted them, you pathetic excuse for a bullshit artist/troll.
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On 11/16/2018 07:31 PM, arlen michael holder wrote:

Sodium bicarbonate is amphoteric. In a refrigerator odors from lactic or acetic acid can be neutralized as well as ammonia based odors. Consider one of the fouler smelling substances, butyric acid. The reaction yields sodium butyrate which isn't volatile.
I'll agree the box in the refrigerator seems suspect. If my refrigerator stunk, I'd go for more surface area. otoh, when used on a carpet, you spread it out, broom it in, and vacuum it up sometime later. I'll let you determine the chemical reactions involved with decomposing urea after the cat pisses in the rug.
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On Fri, 16 Nov 2018 21:45:45 -0700, rbowman wrote:

I had to look up "amphoteric", as my college chemistry is decades old. Googling, I don't see any evidence (yet) that baking soda is amphoteric. That is, it seems to be only alkaline, and not react with bases.

Yup. Only an experiment will tell us for sure, but it seems that we need surface area since baking soda, in those yellow boxes, is effectively a solid with a surface area of, oh, about the edge of a two by four, right?
Is that enough surface area? Dunno. I suspect not. Sprinkled on carpet is a totally different story as that's _all_ surface area!
I don't know the composition of urine. Looking it up... it seems to be mostly urea, uric acid, sodium, potassium, creatinine, and water. https://www.atrianglelegacy.com/breaking-cycle-chemistry-pet-urine-odor-removal/
It seems to also emanate ammonia though... https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/82037/can-cat-urine-corrode-stainless-steel
Looking further afield, I found this https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2840763/The-chemistry-CATS-Chemists-reveal-felines-crazy-catnip-causes-urine-smell-rancid.html
I don't think the Daily Mail is all that great of a reference, but what it says is this: "Cat urine gets its unique smell from a compound called felinine."
So if that's true, that's the chemical we want the baking soda to neutralize the odor of.
It also says where the ammonia comes from: "Bacteria in cat faeces typically converts uric acid into ammonia, which gives the urine its smell. "
They recommend "Fullers Earth", which, I have to look up... "Fuller's Earth absorbs water from the urine that reacts with the ammonia to create a series of other acids."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuller%27s_earth "Fuller's earth is any clay material that has the capability to decolorize oil or other liquids without chemical treatment.[1][2] Fuller's earth typically consists of palygorskite (attapulgite) or bentonite.[1]"
It seems to be well driller's clay, mostly made from volcanic ash, and it doesn't seem to have any baking soda in it.
Seems to me, a box of fuller's earth might work better in the frig to control odors than a box of baking soda (depending on the odor, of course).
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It does actually.

It isnt about the air moving.

It does anyway.

Wrong when it absorbs the smells.

Nothing like in fact.

Wrong.

Some like you don’t have anything viable to think with.

Yes, you are that stupid.

The smells get chemically destroyed. They are just organics, albeit smelly ones, which get absorbed and changed by that alkali.
Try getting something smelly like one of the smelly cheeses, put it in a container with some baking soda and see what it does to the smell.

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On Sun, 18 Nov 2018 05:33:58 +1100, Rod Speed wrote:

Hi Rod Speed, This is my last post to you in this thread.
You and I go way back, where I've helped you (e.g., setting up your Wi-Fi) and where I don't resort to insults simply when my belief system is threatened by facts.
When my belief system is threatened by facts, then I simply change my belief system.
For example, I always thought that hot water freezes slower than warm water, but then there's the Mpemba effect, and then again, maybe it doesn't exist (nobody really seems to know, for sure).
And yet, there it is in my old Physics Books from the sixties. Hot water freezes faster than does lukewarm water (but not cold water).
There are a _lot_ of things that people believe, even very smart people (e.g., "God does not play dice with the universe" and "I prefer to think the moon is still there when I'm not looking"), that are wrong.
I am beholden to facts. If your only counter to facts are insults, then this conversation is over.
--
Usenet is a cheerful willingly provided sharing of golden nuggets of fact
among your 1000 closest friends.
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Great, there is only so much of your pathetic excuse for a trolling that anyone should have to put up with.
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wrote:

I did have luck using it to deodorize a rug. (Dog puke, dog piss etc, puppies are a bitch) I pressure cleaned the rug, hung it the sun for a few days with no real joy, then I broomed in a pound or so of baking soda. let it sit in the sun all day and vacuumed it out real well. It was as good as new.
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In alt.home.repair, on Fri, 16 Nov 2018 22:58:15 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

That's great.
Not baking soda but a similar story. The steam radiator was dripping and instead of telling me so I'd call the landlord, my obnoxious roommate took MY thermal blanket from the closet and just used it to soak up the water. I only learned this after I kicked him out. I took up the blanket, saw the watermaged parquet floor because the blanket made more wood wet than would have been, and the mildew smell from the blanket was terrible. Took it to a laundramat and washed it and it smelled just as bad. Put it in a dryer until dry, or maybe a little longer, dont' remember, and it smelled good as new, and it never smelled bad again. Sunlight has big advantages and is free but I lived in an apartment and had no yard.
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On Fri 16 Nov 2018 10:12:40p, micky told us...

There are so many good uses for baking soda that I won'dn't even try to enumerate them. My mother taught me to always keep an open box (or other open container) of baking soda in both the rerigerator and the freezer to be replaced once a month. It helps tremendously to absorb any "off odors". To clean drains, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the sink or tub drain, followede by pouring 1 cup of hot vingar aftarwards. It will foam and froth, and will clear a lot of much out of the drainpipe. The good thing is that it does no damage.
If you Google "uses for baking soda", you'll find dozens of ways it can be used.
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Even sillier than you usually manage, and that’s saying something.

All the evidence suggests that you have a very unnatural 'life'

Use it to neutralise acids.

It’s a viable abrasive that is easy to get rid of once you have used it for that.

Nope, not as abrasive and baking soda is easier get rid of once you are finished abrading.

Utterly mangled all over again.

Anywhere you need a milder safe alkali.

It isnt.
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