Difference Wiki

Bicarbonate vs. Baking Soda: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 30, 2023
Bicarbonate is a chemical compound, while baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate.

Key Differences

Bicarbonate refers to the anion HCO₃⁻, a compound derived from the combination of water and carbon dioxide. In contrast, baking soda is a white crystalline powder, specifically sodium bicarbonate, used in baking and cleaning.
Bicarbonate plays a crucial role in biological systems, acting as a buffer to regulate pH levels in the blood and other bodily fluids. Baking soda, with its alkaline nature, helps baked goods rise by producing carbon dioxide when mixed with an acid.
The term "bicarbonate" can be found in various chemical compounds, not just sodium bicarbonate. However, when people refer to baking soda, they are specifically talking about sodium bicarbonate used in household and culinary contexts.
While bicarbonate is essential for various biochemical reactions and physiological processes in living organisms, baking soda finds its use in a multitude of domestic tasks. These range from cooking to cleaning and even personal care.
It's interesting to note that when dissolved in water, baking soda dissociates into sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. This property of baking soda makes it a versatile ingredient in many home remedies, as it can neutralize acids and serve as a gentle abrasive.

Comparison Chart


Chemical compound
Common name for sodium bicarbonate

Function in the Body

Acts as a buffer to regulate pH
Can be ingested, but primarily for culinary and cleaning uses


Found in various compounds
Specifically refers to sodium bicarbonate


Biochemical and physiological processes
Cooking, cleaning, personal care

Dissolution in Water

Forms bicarbonate ions
Dissociates into sodium and bicarbonate ions

Bicarbonate and Baking Soda Definitions


It's a chemical compound with the formula HCO₃⁻.
Bicarbonate levels in the body can indicate certain medical conditions.

Baking Soda

Baking soda reacts with acids to produce carbon dioxide.
When combined with vinegar, baking soda fizzes up.


Bicarbonate is present in natural waters.
Bicarbonate in water can influence its pH level.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate used in baking.
I added baking soda to the dough to make it rise.


Bicarbonate is an anion derived from carbon dioxide and water.
The bicarbonate buffer system helps maintain blood pH.

Baking Soda

It serves as a leavening agent in baked goods.
Baking soda helps cookies spread out while baking.


Bicarbonate plays a role in physiological processes.
The kidneys help regulate bicarbonate levels in the blood.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a household cleaning agent.
I use baking soda to deodorize my refrigerator.


It acts as a buffer in the blood.
Without bicarbonate, our body couldn't compensate for pH changes effectively.

Baking Soda

It's a white crystalline powder.
Baking soda can be used to clean stained coffee mugs.


The polyatomic anion HCO3- or a compound, such as sodium bicarbonate, containing it.


(chemistry) the univalent anion HCO3-; any salt of carbonic acid in which only one of the hydrogen atoms has been replaced.


Sodium bicarbonate used as a mild antacid; bicarbonate of soda


A carbonate in which but half the hydrogen of the acid is replaced by a positive element or radical, thus making the proportion of the acid to the positive or basic portion twice what it is in the normal carbonates; an acid carbonate; - sometimes called supercarbonate.


A salt of carbonic acid (containing the anion HCO3) in which one hydrogen atom has been replaced; an acid carbonate


What is bicarbonate?

Bicarbonate is an anion derived from carbon dioxide and water.

What's the primary use of bicarbonate in the body?

Bicarbonate acts as a buffer, helping regulate blood pH.

Is bicarbonate essential for human health?

Yes, it's crucial for various physiological processes.

Can I replace baking powder with baking soda in recipes?

Not directly. Baking soda needs an acid to activate, while baking powder contains both.

Can you find bicarbonate in natural sources?

Yes, bicarbonate is present in natural waters.

How does baking soda work as a cleaning agent?

Its abrasive nature helps scrub and its alkalinity can neutralize acids.

Why is baking soda used in cooking?

It acts as a leavening agent, making baked goods rise.

Why is bicarbonate crucial in the blood?

It helps maintain the blood's pH balance.

Are there any side effects to ingesting too much baking soda?

Yes, it can lead to alkalosis, a condition where the body is too alkaline.

Is baking soda the same as bicarbonate?

Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate.

How does bicarbonate influence blood pH?

It buffers the blood, helping neutralize excess acids.

Is there a link between bicarbonate and respiratory function?

Yes, it plays a role in the transport of carbon dioxide in the blood.

How is bicarbonate formed naturally?

From the combination of carbon dioxide and water.

Why does baking soda make baked goods rise?

It releases carbon dioxide gas when it reacts with an acid.

Is bicarbonate found in various compounds?

Yes, such as in sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate.

How does baking soda help in personal care?

It can act as a gentle exfoliant and neutralize odors.

Can baking soda be used as a deodorizer?

Absolutely, it's often used to neutralize odors.

What happens when baking soda reacts with vinegar?

It fizzes due to the production of carbon dioxide.

Is bicarbonate a base?

Yes, it's a weak base.

Is baking soda safe for consumption?

In small amounts, yes. But excessive consumption can be harmful.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons