NOV 15, 2016 11:41 AM PST

Chemistry in the Kitchen: Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

If you have ever attempted to substitute baking soda for baking powder only to find undesired results, then you know that these two compounds aren't exactly the same. Despite the similar names and similar actions (both are leavening agents), baking soda and baking powder are chemically different.

Baking soda is made from sodium bicarbonate. This basic chemical reacts with acids, such as buttermilk, yogurt or vinegar, and produces carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 forms as bubbles, which help the resulting dough or batter rise.

By contrast, baking powder contains both baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) plus two other ingredients: monocalcium phosphate and sodium acid pyrophosphate or sodium aluminum sulfate. In short, the addition of two acids in baking powder extends the leavening process - the rising reaction doesn't complete until the product is in the oven. This is good news for when you want fluffy cakes and muffins.

So next time, pay attention to the recipe and don't try to substitute one baking ingredient for another - it just won't work!
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
DEC 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
DEC 12, 2020
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
Astronomers from Serbia have found that invisible structures created by gravitational interaction in our Solar System ge ...
DEC 15, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Over-the-air Charging - How Close Are We to Realize Tesla's Vision?
DEC 15, 2020
Over-the-air Charging - How Close Are We to Realize Tesla's Vision?
When inventor and visionary Nikola Tesla erected his Wardenclyffe Tower, a 186-feet tall and 68-feet wide monstrous towe ...
JAN 19, 2021
Immunology
How Breastfeeding improves Infants Immunity?
JAN 19, 2021
How Breastfeeding improves Infants Immunity?
Breastfeeding benefits are well known for ages, and it has many positive impacts on infant's lives that continue wit ...
APR 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Speedbumps Reduce Endangered Red Colobus Deaths
APR 09, 2021
Speedbumps Reduce Endangered Red Colobus Deaths
The endangered Zanzibar red colobus is a rare primate that lives only in the Zanzibar archipelago. New research from Ban ...
MAY 02, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
MAY 02, 2021
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
Although Venus is our planet’s closest neighbour, its fundamental properties have remained largely unknown. Now th ...
OCT 15, 2021
Health & Medicine
The Art of the Smize: Study Shows Eyes are More Active in Smiling Behind a Mask
OCT 15, 2021
The Art of the Smize: Study Shows Eyes are More Active in Smiling Behind a Mask
Mask wearing has become a part of our everyday lives. Something that we have all adapted to because of this is expressin ...
Loading Comments...