Yes, I said it… There are fragrance chemicals in much of the baking soda sold now… Even in the baking soda you bake with. Unless you are extremely lucky… and there’s no rhyme or reason as to when it might be fragrance free, because no-one who might know will tell as to why there are any problems with it in the first place.
For months now, I haven’t been able to get any baking soda that isn’t fragrance (or otherwise) pre-contaminated… and I use it instead of soap products, which I don’t tolerate, to clean me, my teeth, my clothes and everything else that needs cleaning… Because my body doesn’t tolerate soap, even organic olive oil soap, probably because there’s something about modern lye that doesn’t agree with me…
If I lived in a cave, it might not matter, but I’m stuck here in the suburbs, and despite being housebound, there are people who make assumptions on my rare appearances outdoors, like when I have to go to the recycling and garbage bins… And I am just well enough to notice, and to care… And it just doesn’t feel good physically, or emotionally…
The most recent Arm and Hammer bulk sample, was even worse than the previous one, although the type of contamination is different…
The owner/manager says he took the sample from a brand new bag he just cut open and used the jar I had given him when he picked up the 50 lbs of fragrance contaminated baking soda I’d purchased in December. He was even so kind as to deliver the jar full.
Arm and Hammer is saying there is no way their stuff is contaminated before it goes in the bag, Bulk Barn won’t tell me who the middle man is, and the bags are really unlikely to pick up contamination during the time between anyway – but I’ve had fragrance contamination on the INSIDE of the bag, when the outside had no fragrance residue.
I buy it in 50 lb bags to avoid retail contamination, but for the 2nd time in as many years, the contents were so fragranced that I couldn’t even use it to clean my toilets. This new jar full makes it 3 times.
Arm and Hammer (Church and Dwight in Canada) and the franchise head office that I purchase it through, are denying there could be any fragrance residues in their product because “no-one else has complained”.
Except that the first time it happened, in the summer of 2011, Arm and Hammer issued a refund without questions! Too quickly, unless there were other complaints. This time they were too quick to brush me off.
Most people wouldn’t notice, since their lives are so full of fragranced products anyway. I notice because I’ve had to eliminate fragrances and other VOCs for so many years, because I am “sensitized” to them (and poisoned by them), much like someone with celiac disease reacting to trace amounts of gluten contamination. So I know when there are trace amounts of certain chemicals (even though I don’t know which ones).
Dr. Lynn Marshall, the previous director of the Environmental Health Clinic at Sunnybrook & Women’s College Hospital, outlined my health needs as follows:
The most effective means of managing this condition is by avoidance of known triggering chemicals, and minimization of exposure to other “everyday” synthetic environmental chemicals in food, water, air, and consumer products. As with intolerances to foods themselves, it is highly challenging and expensive to minimize such exposures.
She (Ms Sepp) requires food (water, air, and consumer products) containing the lowest possible amounts of synthetic chemicals permanently to help maintain, and hopefully improve, her health status
So, if indeed they have only baking soda in that facility, then I suspect it is contamination via air handling systems, perhaps from carpet cleaning in their offices, or fragrance emitting devices in the washrooms, since they claim there are no other products produced at that facility and this has been an episodic problem for me.
The head of Quality Control at a place in Toronto that distributed bulk goods to stores all over town used to be amazed when I would call and tell her they had changed their baking soda, and ask who was it from this time… No one else ever called. Yet every time I did, they had indeed changed suppliers. It wasn’t even fragrance contaminated product, it was just different. It smelled and behaved differently when it hit water.
So yes, I can tell when there’s fragrance in something that isn’t supposed to have any. But if they deny the problem and refuse to look into it to fix the problem, then what?
I would think a company that sells a product that isn’t supposed to have fragrance in it (because it is consumed internally) should be happy to hear if someone notices a problem, so that it could be corrected, instead of denying and blaming the person who brings it to their attention.
Does anyone else care if their food grade baking soda has fragrance chemicals and allergens in it before it even gets packaged? Before you bring it home?
Fragrance that isn’t meant to be consumed in baking soda that is to be consumed…
It definitely gets fragrance in it after it hits the store if it’s in a cardboard box, since cardboard only keeps dust out. This means people are buying a product, often to deodorize, but also to consume, product that has already absorbed all kinds of things, things like toxic fragrance chemicals, before anyone even gets it home.
Since I use baking soda for so many things that I require at least 100 pounds of it a year, (and much more if I am going to try to detox any new clothing or bedding), I am left wondering how I can wash myself and my clothing, if I can’t get uncontaminated baking soda. Personal hygiene and clean clothing are really not optional luxuries…
Any boxed baking soda that sits in a store will absorb the chemicals that are in the store air. They do, after all, sell it to absorb odors. It’s just one of its many uses.
I’ve even had a whole case of boxed baking soda arrive saturated with dryer sheet chemicals from sitting in a delivery truck that carried both. I couldn’t figure out why the case itself, made with nice thick cardboard, had air holes punched in it, as if it was a case of fruit requiring ventilation instead of a product that absorbs everything in the air.
Cardboard (without holes) can act like a dust protector. It doesn’t protect baking soda (or toilet paper) from volatile chemicals and other odiferous things in the air, like in a supermarket full of laundry and cleaning chemicals. Cardboard absorbs them too. Most plastic bags are also sponges for fragrance chemicals, perhaps the plastic phthalates attract the fragrance phthalates?
These manufacturers know baking soda absorbs odors, they even mention it on the box, so why don’t they protect it so people can buy it uncontaminated, in case they do want to ingest it, or otherwise just avoid buying pre-contaminated product?
Packaging that does protect the contents from exterior airborne or contact contamination, are the cellophane or foil bags, and for a time, the double kraft paper / nylon polyethylene bags that hold 50 lbs.
In Canada, we cannot buy the 13 pound bags of Arm and Hammer baking soda that are sold in the US. We can only get small cardboard boxes, which, in addition to not protecting the contents, generates a lot of waste if you use 100 of them a year.
To find uncontaminated baking soda, I’ve had to turn to less common ways of getting my stash of fine white powder, the only thing that I can use to wash my hands, brush my teeth, wash my fruit, wash my clothes, wash my body, clean the toilet, and do many other things with. I cannot use soaps or detergents. I need uncontaminated B.S.
Some places, like health food and environmental stores sell baking soda in bulk by the pound. Buying it like that is not an option for me because it starts absorbing fragrances and other VOCs as soon as it’s out of the bag. I discovered that they get it in 50 lb bags, and most places are willing to sell it to you like that, sometimes even with a small discount, since they don’t have to do anything more than get it in and out the door.
I’ve managed to avoid most post-production contamination (except some on the bag exteriors from people with fragrance residues on their hands) by ordering it in these huge heavy bags and picking it up (or having it picked up or delivered) on or as close to the day the store gets it in.
This method works great as long as the product is uncontaminated when it is bagged.
I am again having a hard time getting baking soda that is not pre-contaminated.
I can’t find anyone to go to Costco so I can try a case-full from there. They used to have sealed shrink wrapped cases that would prevent some contamination, unlike plain cardboard which absorbs all the fragrances and chemicals from the area, and A&H apparently use a different plant to package the boxes than they do for the 50 lb bags.
The other source for baking soda that I used to get (they supply Bob’s Red Mill, Fleishmann’s, and others) had something happen in 2009 that changed the taste and smell and which makes me choke and get dizzy when it hits water. To me, it smells something like diesel when it’s wet. The current QA guy started working there in 2010 and couldn’t find any indication of any changes or events in the records (assuming he told me the truth, and assuming the changes would have been recorded somewhere).
Apparently there is only one other source of food grade baking soda in North America, possibly in the same town as Arm and Hammer, but they don’t provide product to us ordinary people, they just sell to industrial users, like large national bakers. I haven’t yet been able to track down which company it might be, if they manufacture anything else that could contaminate it on premises, or how I might be able to get me some.
If I can track that down, and they do have something that might work for me, I’d still need to find a way to get it to me here. (Not an easy feat, as lately I haven’t even found anyone to pick up some coffee beans for me… Moving to a new city as a housebound adult who cannot be near the chemicals in regular laundry and personal care products means there are little to no opportunities to meet people and develop relationships with them, so that they will want to offer help when it’s needed).
So, not having spare clothes to begin with, and then not being able to wash the ones I’m wearing all the time, is making me feel less than human. Or a very unhappy human… Or both.
It wouldn’t matter if I lived in a cave, far from other humans, in a world where appearances (and smell) don’t matter, but I don’t think I have to tell you, we live in a smell obsessed society where if something doesn’t smell like a fragrance chemical, it’s thought to stink, and the commercials sell all kinds of products to mask that “stink”.
I think it stinks that it’s so difficult to get baking soda that doesn’t stink of fragrance.
I have only a few tablespoons of safe stuff left, only because I have been conserving it, hoping I will be able to get some safe stuff again “soon”, and then be able to wash “all” my few articles of clothing… but then what?
What if I can’t find or get any baking soda from another source? What if that 3rd source is actually the source Arm and Hammer uses for it’s “Specialty Products” /bulk customers, who refused to consider their product gets contaminated?
What if fragrance in baking soda isn’t only my problem, but is a problem for everyone?
I welcome your assistance in finding and receiving safe, uncontaminated baking soda.
Don’t forget to check out Secret Scents
This might also be of interest to some of you:
I tried to find any research about aluminum in baking soda and could not find it. It seems to be a confusion spread by people who don’t know there’s a difference between baking powder and baking soda. These 2 blog posts should clear that up.
The Great Baking Soda Anti-Hoax