Baking Soda is a component of the mineral natron and is found dissolved in many mineral springs. Egytpians used natron as a cleaner. French chemist Nicolas Lebalnc came up with Soda Ash or Sodium carbonate in 1791 and, in 1846 two American bakers in New York began producing baking soda from sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide. It was mentioned by Rudyard Kipling as a substance that helped prevent fresh fish from spoiling. It’s primary
usefulness comes from it being mildly alkaline allowing it to neutralize or react to acid (an example is the volacano experiment often done in schools)
So, it seems that one element that makes Baking Soda work on body odor is that it raises the pH of the skin surface which makes it inhospitable for the bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidi. So, theoretically, not only will the bacteria not thrivein the mildly alkaline environment and in this way is prevented from producing the smelly substance isovaleric acid.
Even if it does manage to live in the alkaline environment, the resulting isovaleric acid would be neutralized (changed into a non-smelly by product).
Although it seems clear that baking soda works at defending off body odor, one reason we don’t just powder our pits with pure Baking Soda is that many people’s skin will react negatively to straight baking soda. Skin likes to be at its natural pH of 4 to 4.5. Baking Soda is pH of 8.5, (Sea Water is at pH 8.0 and Ammonia is at 11.5.)
While Baking Soda does a good job of killing some acid loving bacteria on the skin, it can also kill the good bacteria that protects our dermal layer. It also disrupts the pH balance andsometimes disrupting the protective acid mantle can cause causing dermatitis,eczema and rosacea. That’s why we want to use Baking Soda judiciously and accompanied by other products.