There are high-tech products to smooth almost every aspect of your hiking experience, but some of the best “camp helpers” come from simpler times, when outdoorsy folks relied on home remedies. Such a solution is baking soda, which does much more than make bread rise.
Foot freshener: Powder your dogs as needed, or sprinkle soda into your boots to control odor.
Toothpaste: Mix with a pinch of cinnamon for flavor. Place a pea-size amount on your brush.
Breath freshener: Gargle with a solution of 1 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to eliminate the garlic odors from last night’s dinner.
Antacid: Quench backcountry heartburn with 1/2 teaspoon in a cup of water.
Insect bites, minor burns: Mix baking soda with a small quantity of water to make a paste. Apply a light coating to the bite or burn area. Also works on windburn, poison ivy, and oak.
Dishwashing: Add a small amount to dishwater, or if water is in short supply, use a dash of baking soda with a damp sponge for scouring. For scorched pans, coat the bottom with soda, add water, and boil on low heat to dislodge burned particles.
Body odor: Wash hands with soda after cleaning fish to remove lingering odor. Sprinkle baking soda under arms, and on stinky clothes and sleeping bags.
Food odors: To avoid stale odors in canteens and food containers, soak them in a baking-soda-and-water solution before storing.