Baking soda is one of the most commonly-used chemical leavening agents. It is an alkaline salt which requires heat and/or an acid to generate leavening gases.

Baking Soda

Also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda


What is Baking Soda?

Baking soda is one of the most commonly-used chemical leavening agents. It is an alkaline salt which requires heat and/or an acid to generate leavening gases.¹ Similar to other chemical leaveners, it is typically used in baked products that do not require yeasts such as cakes, cookies, muffins and cupcakes.

  • Commercially, baking soda can be found in different particle sizes
  • It ranges from 70 to 160 microns i.e. from fine powder to granular
  • This affects its reactivity. ¹

Chemical Structure

Chemical Structure of Baking Soda

Origin

Sodium bicarbonate is considered one of the oldest leavening agents used in baked goods. It was first produced in 1791 by the French chemist Nicolas Leblanc and was introduced to the US in the 1840s by John Dwight and Austin Church.¹,²

Today, baking soda is a widely used chemical leavening agent due to its accessibility and affordability. 

Function

Baking soda offers several benefits to baked goods, such as:¹

  • Leavening: gases formed from the breakdown of baking soda allow the batter to expand during baking. 
  • Tenderizing: produced gases expand the cell walls of baked goods, making them more tender. 
  • pH adjustment: baking soda increases the pH of baked goods, this may have an effect on color, flavor, crumb texture, and gluten strength. 
  • Texture improvement: creates a finer crumb.
  • Adds flavor: in certain baked goods, it may provide a distinctive salty flavor.

Nutrition

Baking soda contains a high amount of sodium that may be detrimental for heart health.

Commercial production 

Baking soda is commercially produced through the following process: 4

  • Synthesis: sodium carbonate solution is treated with carbon dioxide to form a slurry/suspension. 
  • Filtering: the suspension is separated from the liquid, producing a cake. 
  • Washing: the cake is washed in a...

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