Baking Soda is a white powder with crystalline grains. It is popularly called cooking soda. The chemical formula of Baking Soda is NaHCO3 ( sodium bicarbonate). It is a chemical salt with wide array of uses. Baking Soda has a mild alkaline taste similar to washing soda (sodium carbonate). Natural mineral form of Baking Soda is called nahcolite, often found dissolved in geysers and springs. It is often used as food tenderizer and leavening agent. Due to its ability to neutralize acidic molecules, Baking Soda is also used as deodorizing agent. In launderettes, Baking Soda is used to stabilize the pH level of the water and enhance detergent’s washing effectiveness. Baking Soda is often confused with baking powder. Baking Soda is pure bicarbonate of soda but baking powder is made from sodium bicarbonate, cream of tartar and starch.
Ancient Egyptians were the first to use natron, a natural deposit of sodium bicarbonate. In 1791, French chemist Nicolas Leblanc made artificial sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. In America, Baking Soda was unavailable till 1839. Later John Dwight and Austin Church established a factory in New York to make Baking Soda utilizing sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide.
Baking Soda is usually made from soda-ash. In earlier days, the Leblanc process was quite popular. Later, Solvay Method developed by Ernest Solvay gained popularity. The Solvay process is described below:
Cleaning and Extinguishing Uses : Baking Soda is used to remove oil and grease stains from clothes and utensils.
Culinary Uses : Baking Soda is used as a leavening agent in baking recipes. It adds crispiness to fried foods. It is added to tomato sauce, beans and coffee to decrease acidity. Cooking Soda is used as a substitute for baking powder. Baking Soda is often used as vegetable and meat tenderizer.
Baking Soda is alkaline in nature and hence can used to reduce acidity. Add about 1/2 tsp - 1teaspoon of baking soda to water and drink it preferably after an hour or two of eating as you don't want to mess with your digestion during which time the stomach has to be acidic to aid in the digestion process. Sodium bicarbonate paste or poultice reduces the pain caused by bee and bug stings. Lukewarm Baking Soda bath soothes sunburn and skin irritations caused by chicken pox and measles. It can be used as an exfoliant on the skin as well and can help with acne.
Baking Soda whitens teeth due to its mild abrasive agent property.
Baking Soda is useful in many ways but must not be used in excess.