Baking Soda vs Baking Powder, what’s the difference? When should we use one over the other? Are there any other uses for either, than baking or cooking?
If you are a serious cook, you should be able to rattle off the answers to those questions instantly.
Baking is more of a science than an art. Chemistry and exact proportions are very important to achieving a quality finished product consistently.
Sodium bicarbonate, sodium bicarb, bicarb soda, bicarbonate, and bicarb are all names for the same thing – NaHCO3
It is a salt made up of sodium and bicarbonate molecules. For a more in-depth explanation and chemistry, go to Wikipedia. Sodium Bi-carbonate is used for many things but since our many focus is cooking, let us look at that first.
In cooking Sodium bi-carbonate is called Baking Soda. By providing CO2, its primary use is as a leavening agent in batters and dough such as pancakes and breads, but is also used to crisp up the batter in fried foods. Baking soda is very alkaline and in too large a quantity can leave sodium carbonate, which has a bitter or soapy taste.
What you need to remember is that Baking Soda releases CO2, carbon dioxide gas, that causes the batter or dough to rise by expanding within the lattice like structure of protein, known as gluten, in the dough. The gluten traps the CO2 gas as it forms to make the bread or batter rise.
Ok, now dig deeper and recall a little high school chemistry. Baking Soda, aka: Sodium Bi-carbonate, is a base. A base will decompose in the presence of of heat, starting at 180 deg F, but give up only half of its its CO2 leaving, proportionately, more of its bitter, soapy flavor, relative to the gas, in the final product.
You may also recall that a base and an acid have a strong chemical reaction. In the case of Baking Soda, if you also use an acid such as a phosphate, cream of tartar, lemon juice, yogurt, buttermilk, cocoa vinegar or even a sourdough batter, you can create a reaction that will release much more of its CO2. Remember that unlike batter or dough that has no acid, which will only rise when CO2 is released at 180 deg when baking. When your acid and baking soda are mixed the reaction will start immediately and you will need to hurry and start the cooking.
You might find useful the fact that when adding baking soda to your coating for fried foods, your crust will be more crispy. The reason for the crispiness is that the emerging CO2 leaves passages for steam to escape from the food not only keeping the breading from being soggy but also preventing the crust from being blown off during cooking.
Let us now consider, baking powder. Not the stuff with a thousand uses that you put open in the refrig, but the powder in a round can that that said
“Double Acting” on it.
Baking powder generally contains around 30% sodium bicarbonate combined with calcium acid phosphate, sodium aluminium phosphate or cream of tartar, which are activated by adding water, not needing acid. Having both the Baking Soda and other additives make it “double acting”.
While baking soda is alkaline; the acid used in baking powder helps to avoid the metallic, bitter, soapy taste when the chemical change during baking creates sodium carbonate.
Tips bulletin is a very informative site that gives tips on all sorts of different topics. The following are excerpts from their 50+ Amazing Uses of Baking Soda
1. Clean Your Bathtub
Bathtub Cleaner Recipe
- Baking soda (1/2 Cup)
- Coarse salt (1 Tbsp)
- Dish soap (1 Tbsp)
Baking soda also works well to clean fiberglass and glossy tiles. For extra cleaning power, you can make a paste with the baking soda for a deep-down clean.
9. Clean Furniture
Baking soda is an excellent product if you need to clean or remove marks from painted furniture or walls. Apply baking soda to a clean damp rag or sponge and lightly rub the area that you need to clean.
Baking soda works especially well to clean patio furniture. Using a clean, dry cloth, remove the residue from the furniture or wall. This method will even work for removing crayon marks from your walls and furniture.
17. Natural Fruit and Vegetable Scrub
Even if you buy organic produce, it is important to make sure to wash your fruits and veggies before consuming them. Not only can this get rid of any pesticides that may have seen use during the growing of the produce, but it can remove bacteria from your food.
Baking Soda Uses: Keeps Produce Fresh
You can make a natural produce cleaner by adding one teaspoon of baking powder to one tablespoon water. The paste is an excellent way to get rid of unwanted bacteria and pesticides from your produce.
23. Extinguish Grease Fires
If you encounter a minor grease fire in your kitchen, you can use baking soda to put it out quickly. Pouring baking soda on the fire will instantly stifle the flames. When the baking soda is heated, it discharges carbon dioxide and produces water.
The carbon dioxide doesn’t support combustion like oxygen. It smothers the fire, allowing the water that has formed to cool the fire to below the temperature needed for ignition.
31. Deodorize Recycling Bin
You can make sure your recycling bin doesn’t smell by adding baking soda to the top of the container every time you add to the container.
You can also clean the recycle bin with baking soda after it is empty. Place some baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe down the inside of the recycle bin, followed by a thorough rinse with warm water.
And many others – Check it out – Jughandle