Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating General Silly question from a DIYer: baking soda vs NaOH

  • Silly question from a DIYer: baking soda vs NaOH

    Posted by fareloz on December 29, 2022 at 2:14 pm

    Hi all! I am not a professional chemist, just a DIYer who tries to understand skincare products better (and make some very simple products at home). I am a bit into chemistry, but I’ve already forgot even simple stuff from school, so hope you can help me to understand if it is OK to use baking soda as a pH adjuster.
    Why professional manufacturers use NaOH instead? Because it is a strong base? Because baking soda produce CO2 on reaction with acids?
    Baking soda of ok-ish grade is readily available in every store, so I wonder if I can still use it (or I miss some chemistry knowledge and I should prefer NaOH?) 
    Thanks!

    fareloz replied 1 year, 6 months ago 7 Members · 15 Replies
  • 15 Replies
  • Abdullah

    Member
    December 29, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    For what purpose?

  • fareloz

    Member
    December 29, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    For pH adjustment 

  • Dr Catherine Pratt

    Member
    December 29, 2022 at 8:55 pm

    Use NaOH and make up a dilution before you add drops for pH adjustment 

  • fareloz

    Member
    December 29, 2022 at 10:01 pm

    Use NaOH and make up a dilution before you add drops for pH adjustment 

    That’s not what I asked 

  • Abdullah

    Member
    December 30, 2022 at 2:07 am

    Do as Dr catherine said.

  • ketchito

    Member
    December 30, 2022 at 3:57 am

    @toketsu Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is a weaker base than Sodium hydroxide, so that is one reason. Also, Sodium hydroxide is cheaper (although in some countries you need to ask for a permit and declare your annual consumption, since it’s also used to make Breaking bad kind of drugs). You mentioned the CO2 release and that carries an aereation issue (especially in emulsions).  

  • fareloz

    Member
    December 30, 2022 at 9:00 am

    Abdullah said:

    Do as Dr catherine said.

    Use NaOH and make up a dilution before you add drops for pH adjustment 

    Thank you both for your input, but can you elaborate a bit more? NoOH of cosmetic grade is not easily available in DIG quantity.. Could you tell why better to use it instead of baking soda? 

  • fareloz

    Member
    December 30, 2022 at 9:02 am

    ketchito said:

    @toketsu Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is a weaker base than Sodium hydroxide, so that is one reason. Also, Sodium hydroxide is cheaper (although in some countries you need to ask for a permit and declare your annual consumption, since it’s also used to make Breaking bad kind of drugs). You mentioned the CO2 release and that carries an aereation issue (especially in emulsions).  

    Thank you! I didn’t know about the cost… 
    If baking soda is a weaker base does it mean it doesn’t fully react or something? 

  • MarkBroussard

    Member
    December 30, 2022 at 10:46 am

    @toketsu

    Baking Soda in water will form Carbonic Acid that in water will revert to Carbon Dioxide and Water … hence all the gas produced when using Sodium Bicarbonate.  You don’t have that issue with Sodium Hydroxide.

    But, if this is DIY for your personal use, Baking Soda is fine.  But, you would not want to use it in a product for commerce. 

    It looks like you already knew the answer, but weren’t completely certain.  

  • fareloz

    Member
    December 30, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    @toketsu

    Baking Soda in water will form Carbonic Acid that in water will revert to Carbon Dioxide and Water … hence all the gas produced when using Sodium Bicarbonate.  You don’t have that issue with Sodium Hydroxide.

    But, if this is DIY for your personal use, Baking Soda is fine.  But, you would not want to use it in a product for commerce. 

    It looks like you already knew the answer, but weren’t completely certain.  

    Thank you for the input! Yes, I tried to understand myself the reasons, but I wanted to have a confirmation from someone who is from the field. Thanks a lot!

  • Dr Catherine Pratt

    Member
    January 4, 2023 at 7:55 pm

    Just trying to help. You said in the message the questions were for pH adjustment. Like Mark said you knew the answer & I just told you what to do. The strong base works and it’s easy to buy in small quantities. 

    If you are make a diy product and you need to have a final pH of say 6 then NaOH will work so use it. 
    Wear gloves & dilute it so it’s again safer to use. That’s all. 
    Thanks Abdullah you knew I was just being helpful. 
  • Pharma

    Member
    January 4, 2023 at 8:34 pm
    You could as well use potassium hydroxide or arginine base if these were easier to source in small quantities where you live.
    With NaOH and the two abovementioned bases (and ammonia, which I advise against…), you can pretty much obtain any high pH you want to, with bicarbonates you’re limited somewhat. It’s a very poor base and it’s neutralising property relies mostly on the formation of carbon dioxide. Evaporation thereof results in a loss of acid and hence the pH increases.
    Sodium carbonate aka washing soda would be more efficient than sodium bicarbonate. It’s a stronger base and therefore neutralises also because of its high pH and not just CO2 formation (it also results in CO2 if there’s enough acid present and/or if added slowly enough) but it may not be available as cosmetic, food, or pharma grade.

    Sodium carbonate aka washing soda would be more efficient than
    sodium bicarbonate. It’s a stronger base and therefore neutralises also
    because of its high pH and not just CO2 formation (it also results in
    CO2 if there’s enough acid present and/or if added slowly enough) but it
    may not be available as cosmetic, food, or pharma grade.
    Using bicarbonate is safe but it has the dendency to mess with our product in different ways (under others: slow CO2 evolution happening after you closed the lid tight… happy cleaning when it goes *PLOPP*). If you find an alternative, better use the alternative.
  • zetein

    Member
    January 5, 2023 at 5:54 am

    Baking soda is as weak as soap water.

  • fareloz

    Member
    January 5, 2023 at 11:30 am

    Thank you all for the answers!
    Unfortunately NaOH of cosmetic grade is unavailable in small quantities (only household grade for pipes), baking soda is the most available option since you can find it in any food store. 
    I don’t need high pH, I usually need to raise pH a little bit in water solutions of acids. So bubbles shouldn’t be a problem. I guess the most important question is will it fully react with e.g. Citric acid if I add the right amount, or some soda will be staying unreacted because it is a weak base? Or will it react slowly with time? That’s my concern

  • fareloz

    Member
    January 5, 2023 at 11:32 am

    Just trying to help. You said in the message the questions were for pH adjustment. Like Mark said you knew the answer & I just told you what to do. The strong base works and it’s easy to buy in small quantities. 

    If you are make a diy product and you need to have a final pH of say 6 then NaOH will work so use it. 
    Wear gloves & dilute it so it’s again safer to use. That’s all. 
    Thanks Abdullah you knew I was just being helpful. 

    Yes, I know, thank you for that. Sorry if I sounded rude, I didn’t mean to. But I want to understand not inly what should I do, but also why I should do it this way and not another.

Log in to reply.