CASE STUDY – Baking Soda – Genuine Improvement or Trendy Additive?
Baking soda is a derivative of trana, a natural occurring mineral mined in Wyoming. As a consumer product, it dates back to 1846 when it was sold in one-pound bags as a baking ingredient. Today the baking soda box suggests using the product as a multipurpose household cleaner, an antacid, and a deodorizer for refrigerator and freezer.
It wasn’t until 1970, however, that baking soda was used as an ingredient in other products. In that year Church & Dwight Co., Inc., added baking soda to its Arm & Hammer laundry detergent. Then, in 1988 the same company introduced Arm & Hammer toothpaste with baking soda. Major competitors like Colgate and Procter & Gamble (Crest) quickly followed suit. In 1994 Chesebrough-Ponds introduced Mentadent-a toothpaste with fluoride, baking soda, and peroxide.
With the success of baking soda as a toothpaste ingredient, more and more companies began looking for way to improve their products by adding baking soda. Western Pleasure added baking soda to its shampoo to reinforce its natural image. Baking soda was added to Scope mouthwash because research showed that consumers believed it made their mouth feel clean. Odor-Eaters foot powder added baking soda as an ingredient because of its odor-destroying properties. For the same reason, Church & Dwight introduced Arm & Hammer deodorant antiperspirant with baking soda.
It will be interesting to see if adding baking soda continues to be the improvement of choice for established products. One company, Den-Mat, sees the trend as a fad. To reinforce that message, it included the words baking soda-free on the packaging of its Rembrandt brushing gel. Gillette’s Oral-B Laboratories, which stresses the therapeutic nature of its products, agrees with Den-Mat. The division has not developed any oral-care products with baking soda.
In fact, both companies are supported by research. There is no clinical proof that baking soda actually makes the mouth cleaner. However, consumers don’t seem to care about clinical studies. So, for the present it appears that using baking soda to enhance other products will continue. Just think, the baking soda you put in your refrigerator to kill odors can do the same—for your mouth, hair, shoes . . .