Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Myth Buster: Baking Soda in the Fridge

Now I can stop feeling guilty for never being a caring enough housewife to have that box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors ... because it doesn't work!
Question - I am attempting to find out how Baking Soda works to eliminate odors. In other words, what does it do, chemically speaking, to eliminate odors. I need to be able to explain this complex process in simplistic terms.
Hoping to not disappoint you, baking soda does not eliminate odors very well at all. As a wash solution, it is mildly alkaline and can serve to cut grease when dumped down a drain. However, crystal Drano is much more effective -- and far more dangerous to use. The popular "open box of Arm & Hammer® in the refrigerator" simply provides an adsorbent material that can soak up odors -- but not very effectively. For example, if some of the odoriferous materials floating around in the refrigerator are acidic, the alkaline baking soda can absorb and neutralize the acid. Even in that regard, it is not all that effective because, as the powder in the box contacts water vapor, it tends to crust over an lose a great deal of its already limited surface activity. It all sounds quite nice, but it does not work very well. Far better would be a canister of activated charcoal because it can indeed adsorb vapors that contact
the charcoal.


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