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

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 24, 2023
Sodium bicarbonate is a chemical compound, NaHCO₃; baking soda is sodium bicarbonate used as a leavening agent in cooking.

Key Differences

Sodium bicarbonate is a white crystalline compound with the chemical formula NaHCO₃. Baking soda is a common name for sodium bicarbonate when it is used in cooking, particularly as a leavening agent.
Sodium bicarbonate has various applications, from baking to cleaning and as an antacid. Baking soda refers specifically to the culinary use of sodium bicarbonate, especially in baking to make dough rise.
Chemically, there is no difference between Sodium bicarbonate and Baking soda; the distinction lies in their context of use. Sodium bicarbonate is a broader term, while baking soda is a culinary-specific term.
Sodium bicarbonate serves functions in science, such as in laboratory experiments and medicine. Baking soda, on the other hand, is typically found in the kitchen and used in recipes.
Sodium Bicarbonate is often sold in a pure form for various uses, including cleaning and personal care. In contrast, baking soda might sometimes contain additives like anti-caking agents when marketed for cooking.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Composition


Primary Use

Diverse, including baking, cleaning, medicinal
Specifically for cooking, as a leavening agent


Broad, encompassing various applications
Culinary, specifically in baking

Additional Components

Usually pure
May contain additives like anti-caking agents

Packaging and Marketing

Packaged for multipurpose use
Often marketed for kitchen use

Sodium Bicarbonate and Baking Soda Definitions

Sodium Bicarbonate

A versatile substance used in baking, cleaning, and personal care.
Sodium bicarbonate is added to bath water for a soothing soak.

Baking Soda

Sodium bicarbonate in the context of culinary use, especially in baked goods.
Baking soda is mixed with acidic ingredients to release carbon dioxide, helping cakes to rise.

Sodium Bicarbonate

A white, crystalline chemical compound used in various applications.
Sodium bicarbonate is used in fire extinguishers to quell small fires.

Baking Soda

A household item used for its gentle abrasive and deodorizing properties.
Baking soda is used to remove stains from kitchen counters.

Sodium Bicarbonate

NaHCO₃, a compound with uses ranging from baking to medical therapies.
Sodium bicarbonate is administered to patients to treat metabolic acidosis.

Baking Soda

A component of many recipes that causes dough or batter to expand.
Baking soda reacts with yogurt in a cake recipe to create a fluffy texture.

Sodium Bicarbonate

A compound used in laboratory settings for various chemical reactions.
Sodium bicarbonate reacts with vinegar to produce carbon dioxide in school science experiments.

Baking Soda

Culinary-grade sodium bicarbonate, often found in the baking aisle.
Baking soda is a key ingredient in many homemade cookie recipes.

Sodium Bicarbonate

An alkaline compound effective in neutralizing acids.
Sodium bicarbonate is often used as an antacid to relieve heartburn.

Baking Soda

A common kitchen ingredient used as a leavening agent in baking.
Baking soda makes the dough rise in cookies and cakes.


Is there a difference in purity between sodium bicarbonate and baking soda?

Generally, no, but baking soda may sometimes contain additional food-safe additives.

What is sodium bicarbonate?

It's a white crystalline chemical compound, NaHCO₃.

Can baking soda be used for cleaning?

Yes, baking soda is effective for cleaning due to its mild abrasive properties.

Does baking soda expire?

Baking soda can lose its potency over time, especially if exposed to moisture.

Are sodium bicarbonate and baking soda interchangeable in recipes?

Yes, they are chemically the same and can be used interchangeably.

What is baking soda?

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate used as a leavening agent in cooking.

Can I use baking soda for medicinal purposes like antacids?

Yes, but it's important to use it in appropriate amounts as directed.

Is sodium bicarbonate safe for skin?

It can be used on the skin, but with caution due to its alkaline nature.

How does baking soda help in baking?

It releases carbon dioxide when mixed with an acid, causing the dough to rise.

Can sodium bicarbonate be used in cooking?

Yes, it's often used in baking and sometimes in cooking to adjust pH levels.

Is baking soda environmentally friendly?

Yes, it's a natural, biodegradable substance and safe for the environment.

How should sodium bicarbonate be stored?

In a cool, dry place in a tightly sealed container to maintain its potency.

Is there a difference in grade between sodium bicarbonate and baking soda?

No, they are the same compound, but packaging may differ based on intended use.

How does baking soda interact with acidic ingredients?

It reacts to produce carbon dioxide gas, which helps baked goods rise.

Can baking soda be used in laundry?

Yes, it can help remove odors and boost detergent performance.

Is sodium bicarbonate natural?

Yes, it is a naturally occurring compound, often mined from trona deposits.

Can baking soda be used in all baking recipes?

It should be used in recipes that include an acidic ingredient to activate it.

What other uses does sodium bicarbonate have?

It's used in fire extinguishers, as a cleaning agent, and in certain medical treatments.

Can I clean my teeth with baking soda?

Yes, it can be used as a mild abrasive for teeth cleaning.

What happens when sodium bicarbonate is heated?

It decomposes, releasing carbon dioxide, which makes it useful in baking.
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.

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