What's the Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder?


| 2/6/2008 12:00:00 AM


What's the difference between baking soda and baking powder? Are they interchangeable?

Lisa Yonk
Rogers, Arkansas

Baking soda and baking powder both help create a reaction that causes doughs to rise. This chemical reaction is dependent on the interaction of a base and an acid.

Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate, which is a base. When combined with an acid plus some moisture, such as buttermilk, the reaction releases carbon dioxide bubbles, causing dough to expand.

Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it also contains the acid necessary to produce the chemical reaction, usually in the form of cream of tartar. It only needs to be combined with moisture to begin working.



This chemical reaction has the effect of neutralizing the acid. So if you want the acid in your dough to retain its strength and flavor, such as when using buttermilk in pancakes, always use baking powder instead of baking soda. The only acid that will be neutralized will be the one contained in the baking powder, instead of the one in your dough that is working to create acidic flavors. On the other hand, if you want to reduce the acidity in your dough — say, when using a sourdough starter to make a sweeter dish — opt for baking soda.



Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters