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Sodium Carbonate vs. Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 6, 2023
Sodium carbonate is a salt composed of sodium and carbonate ions, while sodium hydrogen carbonate, also known as baking soda, contains an additional hydrogen ion.

Key Differences

Sodium carbonate, Na2CO3, is a white, alkaline, and water-soluble powder known for its use in glassmaking and as a cleaning agent. Sodium hydrogen carbonate, NaHCO3, commonly known as baking soda, is also a white powder but is used as a leavening agent in baking and for neutralizing acids.
Sodium carbonate is more alkaline compared to sodium hydrogen carbonate due to the absence of the hydrogen ion. Sodium hydrogen carbonate, having a hydrogen ion, is mildly alkaline and releases carbon dioxide upon heating or reacting with acids.
In terms of solubility, sodium carbonate is highly soluble in water and forms a strong alkaline solution, whereas sodium hydrogen carbonate is less soluble and forms a weakly alkaline solution.
Sodium carbonate is used in swimming pools to increase the pH and in water treatment. Sodium hydrogen carbonate, on the other hand, is used for its antacid properties and as a mild disinfectant.
The production process of sodium carbonate involves the Solvay process, which uses salt and limestone, while sodium hydrogen carbonate can be made by reacting carbon dioxide with an aqueous solution of sodium carbonate.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Formula


PH Level

More alkaline
Less alkaline, mildly alkaline


Glassmaking, cleaning agent, water treatment
Baking, antacid, mild disinfectant

Reaction with Acids

Forms carbonates and water
Releases carbon dioxide

Production Process

Solvay process using salt and limestone
Reaction of CO2 with sodium carbonate solution

Sodium Carbonate and Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate Definitions

Sodium Carbonate

A chemical base used in the production of detergents and soaps.
Many laundry detergents contain sodium carbonate.

Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate

A compound that reacts with acids to release carbon dioxide gas.
Mixing sodium hydrogen carbonate with vinegar releases carbon dioxide.

Sodium Carbonate

A compound used in the papermaking process.
Sodium carbonate is used to separate lignin from cellulose fibers.

Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate

An antacid used to relieve heartburn and acid indigestion.
Sodium hydrogen carbonate is often used in antacid tablets.

Sodium Carbonate

An ingredient in the chemical industry for producing other sodium compounds.
Sodium carbonate is a precursor for the production of sodium bicarbonate.

Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate

Used in personal care products for its mild abrasive properties.
Sodium hydrogen carbonate is a component of some toothpastes.

Sodium Carbonate

A cleaning agent known for its ability to soften water.
Sodium carbonate is used to remove grease and wine stains.

Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate

A white crystalline compound used as a leavening agent in baking.
Sodium hydrogen carbonate causes dough to rise when baking bread.

Sodium Carbonate

A sodium salt of carbonic acid used in the manufacture of glass.
Sodium carbonate is added to sand and lime to produce glass.

Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate

A mild disinfectant due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Sodium hydrogen carbonate is used to clean kitchen surfaces.


What is sodium hydrogen carbonate?

Commonly known as baking soda, it's used in baking and as an antacid.

What is sodium carbonate?

It's a sodium salt used in glassmaking and as a cleaning agent.

How do sodium carbonate and sodium hydrogen carbonate differ in pH?

Sodium carbonate is more alkaline than sodium hydrogen carbonate.

Can sodium carbonate be used in baking?

No, it's too alkaline and doesn't release CO2 like sodium hydrogen carbonate.

What are the health effects of sodium carbonate?

In high concentrations, it can be irritating to skin and eyes.

How is sodium carbonate produced?

Through the Solvay process using salt and limestone.

Is sodium hydrogen carbonate edible?

Yes, it's commonly used in food and as an antacid.

Is sodium hydrogen carbonate a good cleaning agent?

Yes, it's used as a mild disinfectant and cleaner.

Is sodium carbonate harmful to the environment?

It can be, especially in large quantities in water bodies.

Can sodium hydrogen carbonate be used in swimming pools?

Yes, but it's less effective than sodium carbonate in adjusting pH.

How does sodium hydrogen carbonate react with acids?

It reacts to release carbon dioxide gas.

Can sodium carbonate be used in personal care products?

It's less common due to its higher alkalinity.

Is sodium hydrogen carbonate effective in fire extinguishers?

Yes, it's used in some dry chemical fire extinguishers.

Can sodium hydrogen carbonate be used for laundry?

Yes, as a deodorizer and stain remover.

Are there any health risks associated with sodium hydrogen carbonate?

Overuse can disrupt the body's acid-base balance.

Can sodium carbonate be used for pH adjustment in aquariums?

Yes, but it must be used carefully due to its high alkalinity.

Is sodium hydrogen carbonate safe for cooking?

Yes, it's commonly used in cooking and baking.

What precautions should be taken with sodium carbonate?

Avoid inhalation and contact with skin or eyes.

Is sodium hydrogen carbonate effective in reducing odors?

Yes, it's widely used as a deodorizer.

What are the industrial uses of sodium carbonate?

In glassmaking, detergents, and chemical production.
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
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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