Is All Baking Soda The Same?

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Looking at a recipe and seeing baking soda on the list of ingredients sounds simple enough, but then you walk into the baking aisle in the grocery store and are confronted with endless choices of baking soda!

Is all baking soda the same? Technically, all baking soda is the same, as it is sodium bicarbonate, which is CHNaO3. Baking soda that does not just contain sodium bicarbonate is not real baking soda, and should not be considered such.

To help you out with all you need to know about baking soda, we have covered it all below!

What Do You Use Baking Soda For?

Baking soda has so many different uses, but it is most commonly used in the kitchen for baking. It is a leavening agent that helps baked goods rise while they are cooked.

When used in baking, baking soda is often combined with some sort of acid, which works with the baking soda to create carbon dioxide.

As the carbon dioxide is produced, it releases bubbles, which rise and help the batter rise and become lighter and airier.

Common recipes that include baking soda include pancakes, muffins, cakes, and other quick-bake items.

As baking soda is often used for quick rising, recipes with baking soda do not contain yeast, as yeast takes longer to rise and make a lighter batter, whereas baking soda burns out quickly and needs to be baked in a short time.

Is Baking Soda Safe To Eat?

Baking soda is safe to eat, and all baking soda is edible. It is a mild base chemical, and is not harmful if ingested, which is why it is safe to use it in baked recipes.

It is important to keep in mind that you should not overdo how much baking soda you do ingest, as like with most things, too much can be harmful

You don’t need to cook baking soda before ingesting it either. Some people use baking soda to make their own toothpaste at home, and some people even use it as an antacid if they have an upset stomach.

Small quantities of baking soda are perfectly fine, but it is not something that you should just be eating for the fun of it.

You do need to be careful of baking soda in powder form as if it is inhaled or gets into your eyes, it can cause irritation.

Are Baking Powder And Baking Soda The Same Thing?

One of the main things that new bakers get confused about is whether baking powder and baking soda are the same things. They sound similar and look similar, so surely they can be used interchangeably?

No, baking soda and baking powder are two very different things, and substituting one for the other will not allow your recipe to turn out the way that it should.

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and is used in conjunction with an acid and a liquid to help baked goods rise.

Baking powder, on the other hand, contains sodium bicarbonate (AKA baking soda) and it contains an acid as well, which means that it only requires liquid to help a baked good rise.

You can in some cases substitute the one for the other, but this has to be done with some careful changes to other ingredients, and not on a 1:1 ratio.

What Is Pure Baking Soda?

All baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and if it contains anything else then it can’t really be called such, but there is a very slight difference between some of the baking sodas, and this can be seen in the form of pure baking soda.

You might have been looking at the different baking soda options in the baking aisle, and see that one type costs nearly double another, and this expensive baking soda is most likely labeled as pure or natural.

Pure or natural baking soda is quite a bit more expensive than the other types because of how it is unearthed and processed.

This natural baking soda is unearthed and processed in the most natural and pure way possible, which is why the price tag is so much higher.

One process used to keep baking soda as pure as possible is called solution mining. This is when hot water is funneled underground to dissolve minerals.

These minerals, such as nahcolite, which is where baking soda comes from, are then dissolved into the water, which is then pumped back to the surface.

Once at the surface, this enriched water goes through a process where the sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate are extracted. The water is crystalized, spun dry, and then screened, and the result is pure baking soda.

What Is Normal Baking Powder?

Opting for a pure and natural ingredient is always a good choice, but the price hike might seem a little much for some, and it might leave you wondering if normal baking powder is fine to use.

Generic baking soda that carries an affordable price tag, and which is not labeled as pure, does go through a little bit more commercial processing

This process involved sodium carbonate being dissolved in purified water, and then having carbon dioxide jetted through the water.

The carbon dioxide bonds with the sodium carbonate, which results in sodium bicarbonate. This is all then put in a centrifuge where the water is removed.

While this is mostly done in a factory or lab, there really is little difference between this process and the way that pure or natural baking soda is mined.

Also, there are no added chemicals or impurities in generic baking soda that aren’t found in natural baking soda.

Due to this, there really is not much of a difference at all between general baking soda and pure or natural baking soda, other than the way the two are made or mined.

Does Baking Soda Contain Aluminum?

You might see baking soda boxes or tubs claiming to be “aluminum-free”, and naturally this would lead you to think that other baking soda brands contain aluminum. 

Do not panic; you have not been unknowingly consuming aluminum in baking soda for years, as baking soda does not, and never has, contained aluminum.

The confusion comes in with baking powder once again. Some baking powder brands do contain aluminum, which is listed as sodium aluminum phosphate. It is a key ingredient in baking powder, but it never shows up in baking soda.

For some reason, some brands have jumped onto this confusion and used it as a gimmick to sell more baking soda than competitors, by promising that their baking soda is aluminum-free.

Do not fall for this and just choose the aluminum-free option, as all baking soda is aluminum-free.

Does It Matter What Brand Of Baking Soda You Buy?

It really does not make a difference what brand of baking soda you buy, as there are no secret recipes or ingredients that make one brand better than another—it is all just sodium bicarbonate.

You might be loyal to one brand, and that is absolutely fine. You could like the way the baking soda is packaged and how easy it is to use, or you might favor the price.

There is also the option between brands that sell pure baking soda or manufactured baking soda, but once again there is little difference between them.

Is All Baking Soda The Same?

At their core, all brands of baking soda are the same, and all are made only of sodium bicarbonate.

The only difference that you might find between brands is where they get the baking soda from, whether it is mined naturally from the ground, or if the baking soda is manufactured in a factory.

Both end up with the same chemical, sodium bicarbonate, but just from different sources.

It is completely up to you whether you want to pay a higher price for a natural or pure baking soda, or if you are happy to use exactly the same thing, just which has been manufactured. 

The bottom line is that all baking soda really is the same, and only differs when it comes to how the baking soda was sourced.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over whether or not all baking soda is the same, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

Are there two different types of baking soda?

There are not two different types of baking soda, as baking soda is the chemical sodium bicarbonate.

There are two different ways that baking soda is sourced, which is why people often think that there are different types of baking soda.

Can I use pure baking soda for baking?

Pure baking soda is perfectly safe to use for cooking and baking, and it also does great as a cleaning agent in the home as well.

Can I use baking powder instead of baking soda?

Baking powder can be used as a substitute for baking soda, but it is not as strong of a leavening agent, and you will have to adjust the ratio quite a bit.

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