Why is Baking Soda Bad For Health? Know The Dangers

Emily Wilson

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Spilled baking soda from a glass jar.

Are you a health-conscious individual looking for ways to improve your well-being? Well, it’s time to look closer at the baking soda in your kitchen cabinet. While this magical white powder may seem harmless and versatile, there is more to it than meets the eye. Is baking soda bad for health? Let’s find out why.

Baking soda can have adverse effects on health when consumed in excess. Its high sodium content may contribute to hypertension and pose risks for individuals with underlying heart conditions. Consuming excessive baking soda can also disrupt the body’s acid-base balance.

In this article, we will discuss the potential risks associated with baking soda and why it may not be as safe as you think. From its composition to common uses, we will explore how this seemingly innocent ingredient can wreak havoc on your body when misused or overused.

Baking Soda: Common Uses and Benefits

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a chemical compound comprising sodium and bicarbonate ions. It is commonly used in households for various purposes, such as cleaning, deodorizing, and cooking.

Historically, baking soda has been used since ancient times. Its usage dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who used it for medicinal purposes. The Romans also recognized its cleaning abilities and used it for scrubbing pots and pans. Additionally, baking soda played a significant role in early culinary practices. It was used as a leavening agent in bread-making, resulting in lighter and fluffier loaves. 

A baker pouring baking soda on the bowl.

Chemical Composition of Baking Soda

The chemical name for baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and its chemical formula is NaHCO3. It consists of one sodium (Na) atom, one hydrogen (H) atom, one carbon (C) atom, and three oxygen (O) atoms. 

Baking soda is a white crystalline powder that is soluble in water. When it is dissolved in water, it releases carbon dioxide gas, which is responsible for its leavening properties in baking. 

The alkaline nature of sodium bicarbonate makes it versatile for various household and culinary uses. Still, it is important to use it in moderation to avoid potential health risks associated with excessive consumption.

Despite its common use in household activities such as cleaning and food preservation, it’s important to be aware of its potential drawbacks. When consumed in excessive amounts or used incorrectly, baking soda can disrupt the pH balance in your body, leading to digestive issues like gas and bloating.

Common Uses of Baking Soda in Households

When it comes to household chores, you’ll be amazed at how versatile and indispensable baking soda can be! Not only is it a staple ingredient in baking recipes, but it also serves as a powerful cleaning agent.

Baking soda has been used for generations as a natural alternative to chemical-laden cleaning products. Its mild abrasive properties effectively remove stains and odors from various surfaces. You can use it to clean your kitchen countertops, sink, floor and play mats, and even greasy pans.

A hand holding a sponge beside the vinegar and baking soda for cleaning.

Additionally, baking soda can freshen up carpets and eliminate unpleasant smells from your refrigerator. It’s important to note that while baking soda is generally safe to use, excessive amounts may cause irritation or dryness on sensitive skin. As with any substance, following dosage recommendations ensures the safe use of this versatile product.

Baking Soda Benefits

Baking soda offers a range of benefits in various applications:

  • Baking soda is a commonly used leavening agent that helps dough and batter rise, resulting in light and fluffy baked goods.
  • Its natural deodorizing properties make baking soda effective in neutralizing and eliminating odors, whether in refrigerators, carpets, or shoes.
  • Baking soda serves as an abrasive yet gentle cleaning agent, capable of scrubbing surfaces, removing stains, and cutting through grease.
  • In moderation, baking soda can be used in toothpaste or mouthwash to help maintain oral hygiene by neutralizing acids and reducing bacteria in the mouth.
  • Occasional use of baking soda in water may help alleviate heartburn symptoms by neutralizing stomach acid.
  • Mixed with water, baking soda can gently remove dead skin cells and promote smoother skin. 

While baking soda offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to use it responsibly and be aware of potential risks associated with excessive consumption or misuse, as outlined in specific contexts within this article.

What Makes Baking Soda Bad for Health

While baking soda is generally safe when used in moderation and for its intended purposes, excessive consumption or misuse can pose potential health risks. 

The dangers of using baking soda.

1. Excessive sodium intake

One of the concerning aspects of baking soda is its impact on sodium intake. Excessive consumption of baking soda can lead to high levels of sodium in the body, which can have negative health implications.

Sodium is an essential mineral that helps maintain fluid balance and nerve function in the body. However, too much sodium can increase blood pressure and strain the heart, leading to cardiovascular problems. It can also cause water retention and swelling in some individuals.

Monitoring sodium intake is especially important for those with kidney disease or high blood pressure. While baking soda may have various uses around the house, it’s important to be mindful of its potential effects on our health and consume it in moderation.

2. Alkalosis and its effects on the body

Consuming too much baking soda can throw off the body’s acid-base balance, leading to excessive alkalinity, known as ‘alkalosis.’ This condition can have detrimental effects on various bodily functions.

Alkalosis occurs when the body’s pH becomes too high, disrupting the delicate balance between acids and bases. There are two types of alkalosis: respiratory alkalosis and metabolic alkalosis. Respiratory alkalosis happens when breathing becomes too rapid, causing excess carbon dioxide to be expelled from the body. 

Metabolic alkalosis occurs due to factors such as excessive vomiting or consuming large amounts of baking soda. The effects of alkalosis on the body include muscle twitching, spasms, weakness, confusion, and even seizures in severe cases. Maintaining a proper acid-base balance is essential for optimal health and functioning.

In this video, Dr. Carlos Jaramillo shows how excessive use of baking soda might be hazardous to your health. He says that baking soda is a base that may disturb your body’s pH equilibrium, resulting in metabolic alkalosis, which is potentially fatal. 

3. Gastrointestinal issues

When it comes to baking soda, it’s important to be cautious as it can cause gastric irritation and worsen digestive problems.

Baking soda is highly alkaline, and when ingested in large amounts, it can disrupt the natural acidity of your stomach. This imbalance can lead to stomach pain, bloating, and other digestive discomforts. While baking soda may temporarily relieve conditions like acid reflux or heartburn, using it as a long-term solution can negatively affect your health.

It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before using baking soda or any other home remedy for gastrointestinal issues.

Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, said in an interview with Well+Good, “When used occasionally, baking soda is a quick fix for an upset stomach. But due to its effect on stomach acid, taking baking soda too often could actually stimulate your stomach to produce more acid in the long run.

4. Kidney health risk

When it comes to baking soda, it’s important to understand that excessive consumption can pose serious threats to your kidneys. 

Studies have shown that a high intake of baking soda can lead to kidney damage and even renal failure. One major concern is the formation of kidney stones, as baking soda can increase the risk by altering urine composition. 

Additionally, consuming too much baking soda can disrupt normal kidney function and contribute to the development of kidney disease over time. It is crucial to be mindful of your intake and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your kidney health.

5. Dental health concerns

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for a healthy smile and preventing potential dental issues. However, using too much baking soda as a toothpaste alternative can have negative effects on your dental health.

Dental erosion is one such concern, as baking soda’s abrasive nature can wear away the enamel on your teeth over time. This can lead to tooth sensitivity and even increase the risk of cavities.

A young girl holding a toothbrush and a bowl of baking soda.

Additionally, baking soda may cause gum irritation due to its alkaline properties. While it may seem like a natural and inexpensive option for oral hygiene, it’s important to consider the potential risks associated with using too much baking soda regularly.

Instead, stick to dentist-recommended toothpaste and proper brushing techniques to maintain optimal oral health and prevent enamel damage.

Alternative Uses and Safer Alternatives

If you’re looking for alternative natural agents, there are several options you can consider. These options offer similar benefits without the potential health risks associated with baking soda.

Alternative Natural Cleaning Agents

When it comes to natural cleaning solutions, there are plenty of homemade cleaners and eco-friendly cleaning products available. These non-toxic cleaning agents are not only safe for your health but also gentle on the environment. 

Green cleaning alternatives like vinegar, lemon juice, and hydrogen peroxide can effectively remove stains, disinfect surfaces, and eliminate odors. Vinegar is particularly useful for cutting through grease and grime, while lemon juice works well as a natural bleach. Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent choice for sanitizing countertops and killing bacteria. 

Safer Alternatives for Common Baking Soda Uses

For individuals looking for safer alternatives to common baking soda uses, several options are available:

Homemade citrus peel & vinegar multi-purpose cleaner.

Baking Powder

Baking powder is a leavening agent like baking soda, but it contains a combination of acidic and alkaline components. It is a suitable substitute for baking soda in recipes, especially for those looking to reduce sodium intake.


White or apple cider vinegar can be used in cleaning as an alternative to baking soda. When combined with other natural ingredients, vinegar can effectively tackle household cleaning tasks.

Club Soda

Club soda, or sparkling water, can be used as a substitute for baking soda in some recipes. Its effervescence can help provide lift to certain baked goods.

Activated Charcoal

For some cleaning purposes, activated charcoal can be a natural and less abrasive alternative. It has absorbent properties that can help in odor removal and stain absorption.

Cream of Tartar

In recipes requiring baking soda, cream of tartar can be used as an alternative. When combined with baking soda, it acts as a leavening agent.

Citrus Juices

Lemon or lime juice can be used in cleaning applications due to their acidity. They can help break down stains and cut through grease.

Always be cautious and follow recommended guidelines when experimenting with alternatives, especially in recipes where chemical reactions are crucial. Additionally, it’s advisable to conduct a patch test in cleaning applications to ensure compatibility with surfaces.

Tips for Safe Baking Soda Use

When using baking soda in cooking and baking, it’s important to ensure safe use. To do this, follow the recommended dosage and frequency guidelines provided by reputable sources. Additionally, be vigilant in monitoring your body for any signs of potential health issues that may arise from excessive use of baking soda.

Safe vs. unsafe uses of baking soda.

Safe Use in Cooking and Baking

Safe use of baking soda in cooking and baking requires following some precautions to avoid any potential health risks. It’s important to remember that baking soda is highly alkaline, so using it in large amounts or consuming it directly can upset the body’s pH balance and lead to adverse effects. 

To ensure cooking safety, always follow the dosage guidelines provided in recipes and avoid overusing baking soda.

Additionally, be mindful of its reaction with acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice, as excessive bubbling may occur.

By practicing safe usage and adhering to recommended guidelines, you can enjoy the benefits of baking soda while minimizing any potential health concerns.

When using baking soda for its health benefits, it’s important to follow the recommended guidelines. The suggested dosage for adults is half a teaspoon dissolved in a glass of water for relief from indigestion or heartburn. 

However, it’s crucial to note that exceeding this dosage can lead to potential side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and electrolyte imbalances.

Moreover, long-term excessive use of baking soda may have adverse effects on your health, including metabolic alkalosis. It’s always wise to seek professional advice before using any home remedies extensively or as a substitute for medical treatment. Remember, there are alternative remedies available that may be more suitable for your specific needs.

Recognizing Signs of Potential Health Issues

A man holding his stomach indicating stomach pain.

Keep an eye out for any unusual symptoms or changes in your body that may indicate potential health issues. Recognizing symptoms and monitoring your health is crucial when using baking soda. Early detection of any warning signs can help prevent serious health problems.

Some common symptoms to watch out for include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, frequent urination, and muscle weakness. These could be signs of an imbalance in electrolytes or a buildup of sodium in the body.

If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming baking soda, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional immediately. They can guide you on how to manage your intake and prevent further complications.

Remember, proactive monitoring and recognizing potential health issues can lead to better overall well-being when incorporating baking soda into your routine.

A Call to Mindful Baking Soda Use

So there you have it! Baking soda, the seemingly harmless kitchen staple, may actually pose some health risks. While it may be tempting to use it for everything from cleaning to freshening your breath, it’s important to remember that moderation is key. 

And don’t worry; there are plenty of alternatives out there that are safer and just as effective. So next time you reach for that trusty box of baking soda, think twice and consider the potential consequences. 

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