The Amazing Versatility of Bicarbonate of Soda


Some common household chemicals have multiples functions and purposes. Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda as it is often called, is one of them. Although bicarbonate of soda is a relatively simple compound, it finds itself in a wide range of domestic and cosmetic uses. It’s a favorite in DIY cleaning and hygiene and can be a cheap alternative. This article looks at the chemistry of bicarbonate of soda and some of the many uses of this substance.

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The Chemistry and Background of Bicarbonate of Soda

Bicarbonate of soda is a simple compound with made up of a sodium metal positive ion and a negative bicarbonate ion. Its formal name is sodium hydrogen carbonate, and it also goes by the name sodium bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate is most commonly found in the form of fine white powder. It is a crystalline substance. In terms of its taste, sodium bicarbonate is a little salty and has a soapy, alkaline taste. This is similar to washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate. In this most natural mineral form, sodium bicarbonate is often found dissolved in mineral springs.

Some of the earliest uses of sodium bicarbonate are in the food industry. Because of that, it has earned a number of other names by which it is still known as. These include bicarbonate of soda, baking soda, cooking soda, and bread soda. The preferred name also differs by region. Colloquial names such as bicarb and bicarbonate are also quite common.

Culinary Uses of Bicarbonate of Soda

The uses of sodium bicarbonate are very, very many. In cooking, it is mainly used as a leavening agent for baking. Its reaction with acid in the dough mixture released carbon dioxide gas. The acid could come from any number of substances, including lemon juice, cocoa, and yogurt. This causes the expansion of the batter and gives various baked goods their special form and texture. This includes cake, bread, and pancakes. Baking soda can also decompose to release carbon dioxide through heating in the absence of an acid. For this thermal decomposition to take place, the temperature must be above 180 degrees F.

The commercial product baking powder is used in many cooking and baking recipes. Although the name is often interchanged with baking soda and bicarbonate of soda, this compound is not purely sodium bicarbonate. Only around 30 percent is sodium bicarbonate. The other additives help to limit the metallic off taste after the alkaline sodium bicarbonate reacts during cooking or baking. Other cooking uses of baking soda are tenderizing meat and softening legumes.

Medical and Health Uses

Baking soda can be used in various medical, health, and cosmetic functions. As already mentioned, baking soda is an alkaline compound. This means it can react with an acid in a neutralization reaction. Baking soda water can, therefore, be used as a mild treatment for acid indigestion or heartburn. This substance is often used in various medical applications such as in anesthetics for nasal surgery.

For personal hygiene, baking soda provides a quick, efficient, and cheap substitute for many cleaning products. Mixed with water into a paste, it can be used as toothpaste. It also appears as an ingredient in some mouthwashes.

Other Uses

There are many other ways to use baking soda. It is a deodorizing agent and can be used to remove odors from fridges, cars, rooms, and shoes. it can even be added to your laundry for a brighter look on your clothes. Baking water can be mixed with a little bit of water to form an effective cleaning and scouring agents. There are many other uses of baking soda.

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