|Arm & Ham by Mark Finch|
You can learned more ways to use baking soda here:
Let's not forget the Baking Soda Volcano Experiment.
Baking Soda is used as an ingredient in many of the items we use today including toothpaste, laundry detergent, cat litter, deodorant and antacids. It is the main ingredient in fire extinguishers. That's why baking soda is best used for getting rid of grease.
The Baking Soda we are use today was not invented until the 19th century. There are many different ways to create baking soda. Humans have been experimenting with this since antiquity.
In Ancient Egypt, Egyptians would gather a substance known as Natron from dry lake beds or by burning seaweed and other marine plants. Natron is a naturally occurring mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate (Soda Ash) and 17% of sodium bicarbonate (Baking Soda) mixed with small quantities of sodium chloride and sodium sulfate. The purity of which is tested by the color. It is white to colorless when pure and varies with grey or yellow when there are imperfections. The Ancient Egyptians used for thousands of years as a cleaning agent for their home and body. Here are some ways they used it
- Add oil to Natron it made body soap.
- Undiluted for toothpaste and mouthwash
- Mixed with antiseptics to clean wounds and minor cuts
- Used to dry and preserve fish
- Household Insecticide
- Used to make leather
- Added to Castor Oil to make smokeless fuel which allowed Egyptian artists to work inside tombs without smoke staining them with soot.
- Used to make the color Egyptian Blue http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/indiv/overview/egyptblue.html
- Used in the mummification process to absorb water and as a drying agent. http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/mummies/story/page3.html
You can learn more about the Ancient Egyptians use of natron here: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/salt.htm
Natron was used by many different cultures throughout the world.
Potash is crude potassium carbonate that was used in antiquity to bleach textiles and make glass. In 500 AD, it was also starting to be used to create soap. Another name for Potash is Lye. Here is how it was traditionally made.
|Ash Hopper for Collecting Lye|
By: Denise Krebs
In making soap the first ingredient required was a liquid solution of potash commonly called lye.The lye solution was obtained by placing wood ashes in a bottomless barrel set on a stone slab with a groove and a lip carved in it. The stone in turn rested on a pile of rocks. To prevent the ashes from getting in the solution a layer of straw and small sticks was placed in the barrel then the ashes were put on top. The lye was produced by slowly pouring water over the ashes until a brownish liquid oozed out the bottom of the barrel. This solution of potash lye was collected by allowing it to flow into the groove around the stone slab and drip down into a clay vessel at the lip of the groove.
Some colonists used an ash hopper for the making of lye instead of the barrel method. The ash hopper, was kept in a shed to protect the ashes from being leached unintentionally by a rain fall. Ashes were added periodically and water was poured over at intervals to insure a continuous supply of lye. The lye dripped into a collecting vessel located beneath the hopper.
The hardest part was in determining if the lye was of the correct strength, as we have said. In order to learn this, the soap maker floated either a potato or an egg in the lye. If the object floated with a specified amount of its surface above the lye solution, the lye was declared fit for soap making. Most of the colonists felt that lye of the correct strength would float a potato or an egg with an area the size of a ninepence (about the size of a modern quarter) above the surface. To make a weak lye stronger, the solution could either be boiled down more or the lye solution could be poured through a new batch of ashes. To make a solution weaker, water was added.
By the the 18th century Potash production had become a huge industry. It's usefulness for baking products was discovered during the 1760's. Before this discovery bakers were kneading dough for very long periods of time to ensure it had the proper amount of air in it. Pearlash, the concentrated form of Potash was used to offset the sour taste of sourdough bread. Eventually, Europe began to run out of trees to create Potash.
In 1783, King Louis XVI and the French Academy of Science conducted a contest to solve the Potash dilemma. They called upon scientist to develop a process of converting salt (sodium chloride, NaCI) to soda ash (sodium carbonate, Na2CO3). The prize was 2400 livres. The prize was won 1791 by the French chemist and surgeon, Nicolas Leblanc (6 December 1742 – 16 January 1806). Leblanc was Louis Philippe Joseph d'Orléans, Duke of Orleans, physician. He patented his solution and built his first plant for the duke at Saint Denis. Leblanc created his first supply at the plant then had it tried at some bakeries. The bakers found it to be equivalent to Potash. Three years later, his plant was seized by French Revolutionaries during the Rein of Terror along with all rest of Louis Philip's estate. The revolutionaries destroyed the plant and publicized his trade secrets. The secret for creating soda ash was read and adopted throughout Europe and England. Soda factories began to appear everywhere. In 1801, Napoleon returned the plant to Leblanc. Leblanc had been denied his 2400 livres prize money had earned ten years earlier. Financially strapped and unable to compete with other soda factories, Leblanc could never repair his factory nor operate it. French soda factories were making 10,000 - 15,000 tons of soda ash annually in the early 19th century. Leblanc committed suicide with a gunshot to his head on January 16, 1806. You can learn more about his story at http://biography.yourdictionary.com/nicolas-leblanc
Arm and Hammer
Baking Soda wasn't invented until 1846 John Dwight of Massachusetts and his brother in law, Dr. Austin Church of Connecticut, started to manufacture bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in the kitchen of Doctor Church's home. The two men sold their creation in paper sacks. The men split the responsibilities with Church being in charge of production and Dwight in charge of sales. The development of baking soda was nothing new to Church. Sixteen years earlier, Church had been experimenting with synthetic production of bicarbonate of soda in Rochester, NY. In 1847, they established the John Dwight and Company brand and established a plant at 25th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues in New York City. They called their product Saleratus. Saleratus was sold in one pound under packages.
In 1896, the two companies settled their difference and consolidated to form the Church & Dwight Company. In 1925, the company incorporated to form the Church & Dwight Co., Inc. Although the company retained both mascots it is the Arm and Hammer that has become their trademark.