What’s the Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder?

What’s the Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder?

Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents. They make baked goods rise, lighten the color of dough, and give them a fluffy texture. In addition to their leavening properties, both substances have several other attributes useful in cooking.

When mixed with water or another liquid, Baking soda reacts immediately to produce CO2 gas bubbles — a process known as neutralization. This is how it works:

NaHCO3 (s) + H+ (aq) → Na+ (aq) + H2O (l) + CO2(g).–>Na+(aq)+ H20(l)+ CO2(g).

In short:

sodium bicarbonate + H+ → sodium+ hydroxide + water + carbon dioxide.

Baking soda is an alkaline base because it contains enough other compounds that its pH is greater than 7. For example, baking soda typically has a pH of about 8. When dissolved in water, it can also form an alkaline solution, which helps neutralize the acidity of acidic ingredients such as buttermilk or chocolate.

When mixed with other acids, Baking soda reacts only very slowly. This reaction results in the creation of salt and bubbles of CO2 — a process known as effervescence:

NaHCO3 (s) + C4H5O7(aq) → NaC4H5O7 (aq) + CO2 (g).–> Na+ (aq) + C4H5O7(aq)+ CO2 (g).

in short: sodium bicarbonate + citric acid → sodium citrate + carbon dioxide.

Baking powder is baking soda with added acid and corn starch. The acids used are typically cream of tartar (an acidic salt made by fermenting grape juice, also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate compound), monocalcium phosphate (a that contains calcium and phosphorous), or sodium aluminum sulfate (aluminum salt of sulfurous acid). Because the amount of water needed to hydrate these acids is less than what’s required for neutralization reactions, they produce gas bubbles more quickly than baking soda. That is, they are faster acting than baking soda.

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Tests for Baking Soda :

1) To test if the baking soda you have at home is fresh or not, mix some of it in water and look at what happens. Suppose the solution bubbles up like crazy (like soap suds), your baking soda is still good. But if it makes only tiny bubbles that disappear quickly, replace it with the new one.

2) Another method to understand your baking soda condition is adding 1/4 tsp to 1/4 cup vinegar (lowest common denominator). Now heat it on low heat in an uncovered pan till all the bubbling stops (reacting with acid).

Keep a close eye on it, so it doesn’t overheat. If baking soda still bubbles, it is OK to use for cooking, and recipes typically call for it. But if there is no bubbling action after the mixture cools, replace it with fresh baking soda, then you can check cookies or cakes made with that baking soda.

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3) And the easiest way to test if your baking powder is good or not is to pour 1/2 tsp on a glass of water (common denominator), stir it well, and set it aside for 5 minutes. Stir again before using in recipes as some old powders make the mix very bitter tasting by leaving gritty settled powder at the bottom. There should be no significant change of taste or thickness of liquid once it’s settled down. It means the powder is expired, and you need to replace it with a new one.

If your baking soda or baking powder is older than a year, consider replacing it with acids. Their salt compounds may be degrading over time (the chemical reaction between them may weaken).

4) Lastly, if you’re using more than 1 tsp of baking soda in a recipe, use some distilled white vinegar to alkalize first, then add other acidic ingredients like lemon juice or buttermilk and see what happens. If there’s no bubbling action after adding the rest of the acidic ingredients…then the amount of baking soda needs to be reduced next time.

5) And lastly, if your dough hasn’t raised enough despite properly proofing yeast and adding enough baking soda (double what recipe calls for)…then next time, don’t proof the yeast and add more baking soda instead. Remember to mix the baking soda with the acidic liquid ingredients first for the best results.

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If you’re not sure how much baking powder or baking soda to use in a recipe, underdo it rather than overdo it and then adjust if necessary next time round because too much of either will make your baked goods taste bitter.

6) Lastly, Store both types of baking powders and sodas in dry-covered containers away from direct sunlight, and heat will prevent them from degrading.

Baking Soda Test :

It is well known that when an acid reacts with a base, there is a reaction that produces Carbon dioxide gas. This is why baking soda is used to make things rise. For example, when you bake a cake, the batter will have vinegar or lemon juice added to it so that the baking soda can react with it and produce carbon dioxide gas which causes the cake to rise.

If there isn’t any acid in a recipe, then just adding baking soda won’t do anything because nothing will react with the baking soda. It’s just going to sit there until it eventually becomes useless.

You can test if your baking soda is still active by mixing 1/4 tsp of baking soda with 2 tbsp of vinegar (or lemon juice). If you see bubbles coming out as expected from reactions between acids and bases, then your baking soda should be OK.


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