Saturday, January 18, 2014

How to Make Washing Soda/Soda Ash

When I first arrived here in San Francisco, I had a lot on my plate!  I'll talk more about that tomorrow, but one of the first things I looked up was how to make my own laundry detergent. It seemed pretty simple: three ingredients, two steps, what could go wrong.

Something pretty serious went wrong -- one of the key ingredients, Washing Soda (also known as Soda Ash), wasn't available anywhere in my area!

I started wondering: what's the difference between Baking Soda and Washing Soda, anyway?  Can I just use Baking Soda?

That led me to this post, by Penny of Penniless Parenting.  And then this post, by Jill of One Good Thing.  And then this one, from Nature's Nurture.  There seemed to be a pattern: bake Baking Soda to make Washing Soda!

This was perfect!  As a soap-maker, Soda Ash is a must-have to counteract lye spills, and I'd never gotten around to getting some, so here I was, discovering that I could shoot two birds with one stone.

So I gave it a try!  Here in our tiny apartment, we don't even have a real oven, so I spread some Baking Soda into a Bread Pan that could fit in my mini-oven I brought, and baked it at 400F for an hour.  If I were you, I would use a cookie sheet.

I took it out and it looked clumpy.  Not what I wanted.  I put it back.  Much grainier, but still a little clumpy.  I stirred it, looked at pictures on the posts mentioned above, and decided it was good enough.  I ended up doing three "shifts" with the Bread Pan to get through a box of Baking Soda, but it worked!

The one problem I've had so far with moving across the country is that I lost my container collection!  Ah, well.  I put the Washing Soda in an old Ricotta Cheese container from last week's lasagna and labeled it.  Stay tuned to find out how I used it!

Has anyone else done this before?  How did it turn out?  I'd love to hear about it!