What Is Bicarbonate of Soda?

What Is Bicarbonate of Soda?
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When you sit down to read a recipe, you may find bicarbonate of soda, baking soda, or baking powder listed. Bicarbonate of soda and baking soda are the same thing, so which term is used truly depends on which part of the world the recipe was written in. It may be quite confusing to decipher between bicarbonate of soda, baking soda and baking powder; as you continue to read you will discover the answers to, “What is bicarbonate of soda?” and “Are baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, and baking powder all the same?”

What Is Bicarbonate of Soda?

What Is Bicarbonate of Soda?

Bicarbonate of soda is an alkali used as a leavening agent. It is used in many foods from breads to cakes. Bicarbonate of soda needs to be combined with acid and moisture to activate its leavening ability; therefore it is often used in combination with cream of tartar, buttermilk, yogurt, and milk.

When it is mixed with an acid, it produces carbon dioxide which provides the expansion in the mixture. When you cook the mixture, the carbon dioxide is then replaced with air and you have light, fluffy cake or loaf of bread.

It is important that you use the required amount of bicarbonate of soda to ensure that your cake doesn’t collapse and to make sure you are not left with an unpleasant flavor or greenish tinge in your food.

Baking Soda vs. Bicarbonate of Soda, Are They the Same Thing?

In truth, bicarbonate of soda and baking soda are the same thing. Depending on which region of the world you are in, the name will vary. They are both leavening agents, however they are not interchangeable. Using each of them in your batter will create air bubbles when stirred, which is what causes it to rise (or expand) when baked.

Bicarbonate of soda is simply a leavening agent; in order for it to work properly, it needs to be combined with an acid and moisture. When combined, a chemical reaction occurs which causes carbon dioxide to be released creating the bubbles. You will most often find bicarbonate of soda listed as an ingredient in those recipes that already have an acid ingredient listed.

What about baking power?

Baking powder is bicarbonate of soda premixed with acid. When a recipe calls for baking powder, you generally only need to add moisture. It is most common to find that the bicarbonate of soda used in baking powder is combined with the acidic ingredient known as cream of tartar. The mixture is 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part bicarbonate of soda. The baking powder has a neutral taste so it is used with other neutral tasting ingredients such as milk.

Baking Soda Uses

Do you only pull out that box of baking soda when you are baking holiday cookies or trying to get rid of the stinky odor coming from your refrigerator? Yes, these are the two most common uses of baking soda, but there is so much more for which you can use it. Instead of throwing the box out after one use, try using it throughout your home to create a healthier living environment for all. Or, use it to aid in the health of your family.

1. Skin and Beauty

  • Toothpaste: Combine baking soda with hydrogen peroxide to whiten and brighten your teeth as you clean out that tartar buildup.
  • Skin scrub: Mix 3 parts baking soda with one part water and one part ground oatmeal to create a skin scrub that exfoliates and softens the skin.
  • Remove hair product: Mix a bit with your favorite shampoo to remove residue from your favorite hair products.
  • Natural deodorant: Sprinkle or pat some baking soda on your underarms as a natural deodorant.
  • Foot soak: Mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda with a tub of warm water and soak your feet. Use a baking soda paste to scrub your feet for added exfoliation.
  • Hand cleanser: Use one part water and 3 parts baking soda to create a gentle hand soap that scrubs away all the dirt and grime.
  • Relaxing bath: Add apple cider and baking soda to your bath water for a relaxing soak, and then have the added bonus of cleaning your tub and drain.

2. First Aid

  • Remove splinters: Mix a small glass of water with 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and then soak the affected area a couple times a day.
  • Relieve sunburns: Mix a ½ cup of baking soda with a warm bath or add to a cool compress for natural burn relief.
  • Antacid: Instructions on the box are given for relieving heartburn, indigestion, and upset stomach.
  • Insect bites: Create a paste from baking soda and water, then combine directly to the bite or sting.
  • Itchy skin relief: Rub baking soda into damp skin after shower or bath.

3. House Cleaning

  • Scrub the surfaces: Sprinkle baking soda onto any surface and scrub with a damp sponge. Use a small amount of dish soap for more cleaning power.
  • Clean the oven: Sprinkle onto the bottom of the oven, spray with water, let it sit overnight, then wipe clean with a damp sponge.
  • Polish silver: Mix three parts baking soda with 1 part water and rub on to flatware, then clean with a damp cloth.
  • Furniture polish: Apply baking soda to a damp cloth to remove marks (even crayon marks) and polish.
  • Improve laundry detergent: Add ½ cup of baking soda to your laundry to remove tough stains and extra grime.
  • Clean shower curtains: Scrub shower curtain with damp sponge that you have sprinkled baking soda onto.
  • Carpet cleaner: Sprinkle on your carpet and let sit for 15 minutes, then vacuum.
  • Deodorize shoes: Sprinkle into your shoes to remove the unwanted odor.
  • Clean vegetables: Add to your vegetable brush to scrub away extra dirt.