Posted by Linda on July 14, 1997 at 11:22:09:
In reply to Re: What about baking soda? posted by Caroline on July 11, 1997 at 22:23:56
]] I think that the odor removing properties of baking soda are well known now. Did they know about it during the Regency era?
] I am sorry to say that none of the recipes I have for this period contain baking soda, or anything that might be construed as baking soda under another name! Not in cakes, not in cleaning recipes, not in personal products. So I am forced to conclude that they probably did not know about such a useful thing!A shame, really.
I have not had a chance to get to library, yet, but I did a search of the Internet and got a little information.
It seems that they knew about sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in the late 18th and early 19th century, but the use of it was not widespread because the process for producing it had not yet been developed. Also, they may not yet have determined all the practical uses of it.
Here is a short (relatively) excerpt from the following source
Alkali & The Le Blanc Process
Another very competitive (and ancient) chemical industry involved the manufacture of soda ash (Na2CO3) and potash (K2CO3) (see Carbonates below) . These Alkali compounds found uses in a wide range of products including glass, soap, and textiles and were therefor in tremendous demand. As the 1700's expired, and English trees became scarce, the only native source of soda ash on the British Isles was kelp (seaweed) which washed up on the shores. Imports of Alkali from America in the form of wood ashes (potash), Spain in the form of barilla (a plant containing 25% alkali), and soda mined in Egypt, were all very expensive due to high shipping costs.
However, the English dependence on external soda sources ended when a Frenchman named Nicholas Le Blanc invented a process for converting common salt into soda ash. The Le Blanc Process (see Le Blanc below) was adopted in England by 1810 and was continually improved over the next 80 years through elaborate engineering efforts.
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