In its natural form, baking soda is known as nahcolite, which is part of the natural mineral, natron. Natron, which contains large amounts of sodium bicarbonate, has been used since ancient times. For instance, the ancient Egyptians used natron as a soap for cleansing purposes.
It is sold in the form of fine, powdery crystals, that are slightly - but not very - water soluble. Sodium bicarbonate mixed into a paste is an excellent scouring agent.
Baking soda is also slightly alkaline. Baked-on cooking residues are complicated mixtures of organic substances, but many of them are acids. When sodium bicarbonate interacts with acids in the residues, bubbles of carbon dioxide form right in the surface contamination, which can help lift those stubborn residues.
The other product of this reaction between sodium bicarbonate and organic acids, is the sodium salts of these acids. These salts are, of their own nature, surfactant soaps and detergents. Hence surfactants do not need to be added to the ‘cleaning mix’, as they are already in position, particularly well-placed to perform their detergent action and lift dirt from the surface.
At Frosch, we use the natural cleaning properties of baking soda for some of our products, particularly those around the kitchen.