Baking Soda // Bicarbonato de Sodio

Q – “I can’t find baking soda anywhere!” A – “You are looking in the wrong place.”

baking sodaAlthough our primary use of baking soda has always been for cooking things like pancakes, quick breads and muffins, we have begun to expand our secondary uses of the “salt.” Baking soda now appears in things like toothpaste, is used as an air freshener and as a key ingredient in exploding volcano science projects. Nevertheless, we consider the item something to be found in the baking aisle, most commonly in a bright orange box.

Here in Peru, if you search the baking aisle, only once in a blue moon will you find an orange box filled with the fine powder. Instead, you must go down the “first aid” aisle. Yes, the first aid aisle. Tucked between the band-aids and bottles of rubbing alcohol, you will find bottles of “Bicarbonato de Sodio.” Sure, you will doubt that it really is the “cooking” kind, but trust me, it is.

Soon, you will get over the oddity of picking up your go-to baking item when you buy your next box of kleenex or iodine. You will realize that you won’t find it at your local corner store, the tienda, but instead at your local pharmacy.

Are you still wondering why this is considered pharmaceutical? Baking soda is used as an antacid, to treat scalding and as an insect bit reliever. It is sometimes used to treat aspirin overdose and administered with CPR.

How else is baking soda used?

  • Cooking – leavening agent, softens vegetables when added, meat tenderizer, makes fried food extra crispy
  • Hygiene – mouthwash, toothpaste, deodorant
  • Cleaning – scrubbing paste, silver tarnish remover, coffee cup stain remover, odor absorber, Chinese foot wash
  • Agriculture – biopesticide, cattle feed supplement, coca leaf processing (yes, that means what you think it means)

What are the creative ways you use baking soda? Where is it sold where you live?

Gretchen Noelle

My love of food was cultivated early on by my family but has come alive while living in Peru. During the 12 years of living in Lima, Peru, I have also enjoyed numerous trips to other areas of the country. Here on Provecho Peru you will find Peruvian recipes in English, American favorites prepared overseas, news about Peruvian Cuisine and interesting tidbits about life in Peru.

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5 Responses

  1. Elizabeth says:

    When we were growing up, Mum used to make a paste of baking soda and water almost every day of the summer and we’d walk around with blobs of white covering the mosquito bites all over our arms and legs. (Yes, it worked to relieve the itching.)

    I love that you can’t buy baking soda in the cooking aisle.

  2. Marita says:

    My friend just had this same exact experience in Mexico City!!!

  1. March 20, 2012

    […] chemical reaction occurs with the combination of the baking soda and acidic components in the batter, such as cream of tartar, yogurt, buttermilk, to form tiny […]

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