What’s The Difference Between Bicarbonate of Soda vs. Baking Soda?
Bicarbonate of soda and baking soda is the same thing. They just have different names depending on where you are in the world. Bicarbonate of Soda vs. Baking soda. This a very commonly asked question in the baking world. But here’s the truth.
The confusion comes from how similar their names are. But also because of their close relative ‘baking powder’ which actually is a different ingredient.
Is Bicarbonate of Soda the Same as Baking Soda?
There’s no difference between bicarbonate of soda and baking soda. The name bicarbonate of soda comes from its scientific form ‘sodium bicarbonate’. It became known as baking soda because of its purpose in baking.
Sodium bicarbonate is an alkali substance that produces carbon dioxide in chemical reactions, such as with the addition of heat. The release of carbon dioxide is what causes cakes and bread to rise.
It’s a dry powder substance that requires the addition of moisture and acid to work its magic. This is why we so often see it paired with lemon juice or vinegar.
When a recipe or cleaning product calls for bicarb of soda, rest assured that baking soda is exactly what you need. Baking powder, however, is a different ingredient. Let’s find out why.
What is baking powder?
Baking powder and baking soda are both included in cooking to make things rise, but they shouldn’t be used in place of each other. This is because they are chemically different and the way they react and create air differs.
Baking powder contains baking soda as well as an acid in the form of acidic salts or dry acids, like cream of tartar. There’s also usually a starch such as corn starch. So when you use baking powder, you are adding the acidic ingredient that will produce the carbon dioxide bubbles, as opposed to baking soda which requires the addition of an acid in the recipe.
Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents (aka raising agents). So what’s the difference?
Baking soda is a quick-acting leavening agent, so as soon as you get that powder-acid-moisture reaction going that creates the air bubbles, you want to get your goods in the oven.
Most baking powders are designed to be double-action, so there are two points at which your dough or baked goods will rise. The first is the same as baking soda, and the second rising period happens with heat. At a certain temperature, even more, rising will occur producing an extra fluffy finish.
What is bicarbonate soda used for?
Sodium bicarbonate was invented by bakers as a leavening agent to use in cooking. So, naturally, that baking soda is typically used for making dough and baked goods rise. But that’s not all it’s useful for.
As we’re a cleaning website, we have a myriad of ways to use this magical white substance around the house that will have you rushing out to stock up.
The beauty of baking soda is that its natural, mild, and gently abrasive. These three things make it the perfect homemade remedy for a lot of household cleaning. Basically, anything can be cleaned with a paste of baking soda and water or vinegar, and we absolutely love the stuff.
We have an entire guide for How to Use Bicarbonate of Soda for Cleaning, and some more clever hacks below.
Household Uses for Baking Soda
Bicarb of soda vs. baking soda FAQs
Yes. Baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are two names for the same product so they can be used in place of each other. You should be a bit more careful with baking powder, however, as it contains ingredients which may affect the end result of what you’re making.
Bicarbonate of soda is an excellent ingredient for household cleaning. Because of its gentle yet abrasive composition, it’s excellent at removing grime and grease from surfaces. Mixed with acids such as lemon juice or vinegar, it’s practically unstoppable in the cleaning game. Take a look at our Clean and Tidy Living guide for How to Use Bicarbonate of Soda for Cleaning.
If you are all out of bicarb and baking soda (which are the same thing) then you can use baking powder. Be cautious, as baking powder is about three times stronger than baking soda, so use a third of the amount the recipe calls for.
Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is chemically known as sodium bicarbonate. Soda crystals are chemically known as sodium carbonate decahydrate. They are not interchangeable in baking, and should not be used in food at all, but soda crystals are a really great cleaning tool in place of bicarb.
To summarise, baking soda, sodium bicarbonate and bicarbonate of soda are all the same thing. Baking powder is baking soda with the addition of a few other ingredients, such as a dry acid to make it rise.