SEP 11, 2018 1:10 PM PDT

Chemistry in Your Cookies: Double Acting Baking Powders

If you are not an avid baker, you can easily mistake baking soda for baking powder. 

Although both look white and powder-like, capable of releasing carbon dioxide bubbles when heated (which make them leaveners), baking soda and baking powder are chemically different. The former is made of sodium bicarbonate, a mildly basic compound. Mix baking soda with vinegar, which has acetic acid, and you can see an eruption of bubbles because protons from the acid release the carbon dioxide from the bicarbonate ions. Baking powder, on the other hand, consists of baking soda and an acid component such as monocalcium phosphate. 

The combination of base and acid allow baking powder to release carbon dioxide through two different stages, hence the label "double acting" on most baking powder products. The first leavening action happens when the powder is mixed with any wet ingredients. Water dissolves the base and a part of the acid, causing two to neutralize each other and carbon dioxide bubbles to erupt. The second leavening occurs when the dough is placed into a hot oven. The heat accelerates the dissolving of all acid molecules, during which more carbon dioxide is released.

Source: ACS Reactions via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
OCT 16, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 16, 2019
Outlandish Ideas to Fight Climate Change: How Credible are They?
Boosting investment in renewable energy and reducing the use of fossil fuel are the two commonly acceptable measures to combat climate change. However, sci...
DEC 01, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 01, 2019
Using CRISPR/Cas9 to Modify Chemical Reactions in Cells
Since the CRISPR gene editor was created, researchers around the world have tweaked and refined the tool to use it in a variety of ways....
DEC 01, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 01, 2019
Astronomers Are Observing the Birth of a Binary Star System
Stars are easily observable in the night sky, either by the naked eye or with the aid of a powerful telescope, but while we know they exist and we understa...
JAN 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 27, 2020
How Dangerous is Radiation on Mars?
One of humankind’s most ambitious goals for the next decade is preparing to send astronauts to Mars for the very first time. Such a feat is projected...
FEB 06, 2020
Health & Medicine
FEB 06, 2020
Scientists Found a Safe BPA Alternative
BPA—bisphenol A—is an industrial chemical used in a wide range of everyday consumer products. From food and beverage can linings and storage co...
FEB 07, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 07, 2020
Earth's Magnetic Field Debuted Over 4 Billions Ago, and It was Much Stronger
The existence of a diverse atmosphere on our planet is crucial for life. On top of being in the goldilocks zone, another life-supporting feature of our Ear...
Loading Comments...