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Baking Soda

Baking soda is sodium hydrogen carbonate. Commercial sodium hydrogen carbonate is obtained as a primary product of the Solvay process.


Crystals of sodium hydrogen carbonate are white in colour. These are sparingly soluble in water. This solution is alkaline in nature. If a solution of sodium hydrogen carbonate (or solid) is boiled or heated carbon dioxide is given off. Hence, it is used as a constituent of baking powder to ‘aerate’ the dough.


  1. As an ingredient in an antacid: Being alkaline, sodium hydrogen carbonate neutralizes excess acid. 
  2. As an additive in food and drinks: Baking powder contains sodium hydrogen carbonate and an acid like tartaric acid. When baking powder is heated, sodium hydrogen carbonate decomposes to give carbon dioxide and sodium carbonate. Carbon dioxide causes bread and cakes to rise. Tartaric acid present in baking powder neutralises sodium carbonate. If tartaric acid is not present in baking powder, the cake will taste bitter due to the presence of sodium carbonate.
  3. In fire extinguisher: Soda-acid fire extinguisher contains a solution of sodium hydrogen carbonate and sulphuric acid. These can be made to come into contact with each other either by pressing a knob or by inverting the extinguisher. Carbon dioxide is liberated and it forces a stream of effervescence liquid on to the fire. The Carbon dioxide surrounds the combustible substances and cuts off the supply of air. Thus it helps to put out the fire.

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