The Difference Between Baking Powder And Baking Soda

Often, baking powder and baking soda are easily confused because of the similarity in their names, their appearance and the fact that they’re frequently used in the same recipes. Chemical leaveners such as baking powder and baking soda are used to give cookies, cakes, and other baked goods their characteristic textures. If we don’t know the difference and use one instead of the other, the intended recipe could end up as something else.

Baking soda and baking powder are two different things and cannot be used interchangeably in baking. They are both leaveners that are used in baking, but they are chemically different.1 In short, baking soda requires an acidic ingredient like lemon juice to activate it, while baking powder is nothing but baking soda that already includes an acidic ingredient.

Here are the differences between the two that you must know.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is used in the preparation of many baked foods

Baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) is

a base mineral (alkaline), which produces carbon dioxide when combined with an acidic substance. It is a common ingredient in baking recipes that usually include acidic ingredients such as molasses, maple syrup, lemon juice, and pumpkin. Baking soda is the most common source of carbon dioxide. It is low in cost, high in purity, easy to handle, and leaves no aftertaste. Since flour and other ingredients are slightly acidic, baking soda will release some carbon dioxide if added by itself but will produce more carbon dioxide when more acid is added.

Baking soda is a white solid that is crystalline but often appears as a fine powder. Baking soda is crushed rock that has a really long shelf-life as long as it is kept cool and dry. When combined with these ingredients, baking soda serves as a leavener to enabling the dough to rise. When used in the right proportions, baking soda makes the baked dish darker and crispier. But, too much of baking soda in a recipe can make the baked food bitter and taste like soap.

Other Uses Of Baking

Baking soda can used to clean greasy utensils

  • Baking soda is an effective cleaning agent and can help in cleaning a variety of things.
  • It is used along with regular liquid detergent to make the clothes cleaner and brighter.
  • Dissolve ½ cup of baking soda in a bucket of warm water and mopping the floor makes it clean and shiny.
  • It makes an excellent bathroom scrub when a ¼ cup of baking soda is mixed with 1 tablespoon of liquid detergent. Adding vinegar gives it a thick, creamy texture.
  • To put out a grease fire, scatter baking soda over it by the handful to extinguish flames.
  • Clean the dishwasher and coffee maker by running an empty cycle with baking soda.
  • It is used to help tarnished silverware regain their luster and shine. Mix three parts baking soda with one part water. Rub onto silver with a clean cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
  • Use baking soda to brush your pets’ teeth.
  • Gargle with baking soda, or use it as
    a mouthwash.
  • Freshen rugs by sprinkling baking soda on the carpet, wait at least 15 minutes (preferably let sit overnight), then vacuum it.

Baking Powder

Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and an acidic substance

Baking powder is nothing but a combination of baking soda and an acidic substance, used for increasing the volume and lightening the texture of baked goods. It is used instead of yeast for baked products where fermentation flavors would be undesirable or to increase the speed of production. It is combined with an inert stabilizer (an inactive ingredient that prevents the mixture from reacting), which is usually a small quantity of cornstarch. So, the acidic compound is already included in the baking soda and the two ingredients will not react with each other unless they are moistened, which causes the two chemicals to mix. Different brands of baking powder use different acidic compounds.

The inert stabilizer keeps the baking soda and the acidic substance inert (without allowing reaction) until

liquid is added, which causes the baking soda and acid to combine to produce gas and appears as tiny bubbles to the naked eye. It is this process that gives baking powder its lifting power in baked recipes. But just like baking soda, baking powder can also lose its lifting power if it is not stored in a cool, dry place. It is important to keep it in humidity-free conditions since moisture can cause a reaction.

Types Of Baking Powder

Baking powders are available in two different types called single-acting and double-acting. A single-acting acid reacts in a wet mixture with baking soda at room temperature, and a slow-acting acid will not react until heated in an oven. When you buy baking powder, read the information on the label to ascertain the type of baking powder.

Single-acting powders react quickly and completely when you combine them with another liquid. But, double-acting baking powders work in two stages: once when combined with a liquid, and again when exposed to heat during the baking process. In readily available baking soda, the balance of the soda

and acid is calculated and the baked dish has no aftertaste when used in proper quantities.


Although baking soda and baking powder have a long shelf-life when stored properly, they can both have expiration dates. So, make sure that you use them fresh, and change them at least every three months.