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December 2000

Baking Soda Solutions

Eight reasons to pack baking soda on the trail.

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.

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