Sodium bicarbonate (also known as baking soda) is a very versatile, soluble, white powder. It is found in bath products to help them dissolve nicely in the water, in deodorants to absorb sweat, and in toothpaste and mouthwashes to cleanse and refresh.
Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) is an alkaline chemical compound that occurs naturally in a substance called natron. Natron is a natural deposit that forms in salt lake beds. However, most of the global production of sodium bicarbonate is achieved through a method called the "Solvay process" which involves mixing salt, limestone and ammonia.
Sodium bicarbonate is a key ingredient in many Lush products and for different reasons. In bath bombs, the powder is mixed with citric acid to create a hard base that will dissolve and fizz when plunged into hot water, helping to diffuse colours and essential oils. It also has a softening effect on hard water.
In bubble bars, it is mixed with cream of tartar and sodium laureth sulfate to create a fluffy expanding paste which is moulded into a variety of different shapes and left to dry. The result is solid, naked bars ready to fill baths with bubbles without any plastic bottle waste!
In deodorants, sodium bicarbonate can neutralise acids in sweat, limit the growth of odour-producing bacteria, and absorb moisture.
Finally, it cleanses and protects the gums and teeth. The powder increases the pH of saliva and creates a hostile environment for acidic bacteria. In mouthwash, the gentle fizzing of the sodium bicarbonate combined with citric acid cleanses and deodorises without the need for alcohol.
The different types of sodium bicarbonate used in Lush products are of high quality and purity. The one used in bath bombs is sourced from France and in bubble bars, from Turkey. The type used in deodorants and mouth care products is much finer, food-grade and is sourced from the UK. They are all regularly checked to make sure they do not contain heavy metals and pollutants. Depending on the supplier, methods of extraction and transformation process can differ but they have in common the will to make their ecological impact as little as possible.