Baking Soda and Baking Powder: Difference & How to Choose

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder – Making The Right Choice

One of the common questions while baking is: baking powder vs baking soda – which is right? Most people aren’t sure. Often, people ask whether baking soda and baking powder are one and the same thing. Baking powder is usually involved in baking while baking soda has many uses ranging from culinary to cleaning.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder – What to Pick?

Both baking powder and baking soda commonly feature as ingredients in baking recipes. But have you ever questioned the difference between baking soda and baking powder or wondered if they are interchangeable? As chemical agents, both help baked stuff to rise without yeast. But both substances interact differently with heat. Their leavening procedures are not similar. Therefore, one may simply be better than the other for a particular recipe. Here are some parameters which can help you determine what to pick:

1. Formula

Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda, corn-starch and cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate). As baking powder already has an acidic ingredient to deactivate the baking soda, it is unlikely that another acidic element will be required in the recipe.

Baking soda, also called sodium hydrogen or sodium bicarbonate is a base. It is a leavening agent which when it makes contact with acids such as yoghurt, buttermilk, vinegar produces carbon dioxide which helps to raise the dough during baking.

2. Reactivity Time

Most baking powders are double-acting agents which means the initial leavening happens when baking powder becomes wet as you mix the dry and wet components and the second leavening ensues when it gets heated.

Baking soda responds after getting mixed with acids like yoghurt, buttermilk, vinegar.

3. Chemical Reaction

Baking powder can be used straight away without any acidic element.

Typically when baking soda and an acidic element combine, a bubbly chemical reaction occurs which causes the baked item to rise. Thus a recipe which demands baking soda will also have some acidic element like buttermilk, brown sugar, yoghurt, lemon juice, honey or vinegar.

4. Taste

Baking powder has a neutral influence on taste making it easier to work with in recipes. Baking soda may produce a metallic or bitter aftertaste if added excessively. Therefore, it is best to take add exact quantities for your recipes.

5. Colour and Texture

Baking powder does not have any texture. Baking soda possesses a unique texture and colour which bears many similarities to salt.

6. Expiry Date

Baking powder may remain good for a period of about 3 to 12 months. Baking soda may last for quite a long time if kept in a cool, dry place.

Baking Powder vs Baking Soda

7. Cooking or Baking Purposes

Baking powder puffs and baking soda spreads. Thus for cut-out cookies, you may want to opt for baking powder as it will let the dough rise without affecting the cookie’s shape.

But for chocolate chip cookies, you may wish to go in for baking soda as it will support the spread of the dough along with imparting the ideal chocolate-chip cookie crumbly texture with a gooey middle.

8. Cleaning Purposes

You can use baking powder for cleaning. However, it is more economical to choose baking soda. Plus, baking soda is more efficient as a cleaning agent.

Baking soda commonly profits as a natural, inexpensive cleaning agent. It can be put to use for brightening your white clothes, cleaning coffee stains, grill or a dingy pile of towels. You can also de-clog the drain, refresh your carpets or even remove crayon stains from the wall.

9. For Skin

Baking soda, unlike baking powder, offers many beauty benefits. It can effectively exfoliate the skin and unclog blocked skin pores. It can make a great daily facial cleanser. You can give yourself a wonderful pedicure by mixing baking soda with enough water.

10. For Hair

Many people do use baking soda as a substitute for dry shampoo. But there is no scientific evidence to prove that washing hair with baking soda can help to make it softer or better. Some women have reported severe harm to their hair with excessive usage of baking soda as shampoo. Baking soda, however, due to its high pH content, is likely to cause cuticle damage, hair breakage, and frizz.

11. For Teeth Whitening

You can use baking soda for whitening the teeth. But you should exercise caution while doing this as it can hurt your enamel. Baking soda can get abrasive on intense brushing.


Some frequently asked questions are:

1. Can Baking Soda and Baking Powder Be Substituted for Each Other?

Yes, it is possible to substitute baking powder and baking soda. But it is tricky. Keep in mind that baking powder has around 1/3 baking soda, thus using the same measure of baking powder when substituting for baking soda may not work well for the given recipe. You can follow this conversion rule: substitute a teaspoon of baking soda with about three teaspoons of baking powder. When substituting baking powder with baking soda, remember that baking soda is approximately three times more potent than baking powder. Thus, you may need less than what the recipe specifies.

2. How to Know If Baking Soda or Baking Powder Has Gone Bad?

Environmental factors can cause baking soda or powder to go bad or ineffective. In case you have baking powder or soda for over six months now, you should check its efficiency. Blend a little baking soda with some vinegar. If it bubbles instantly, the baking soda is still useable. To test the functionality of baking powder, mix a teaspoon of it in half a cup of boiling water. If it bubbles, the baking powder is still unspoilt.

Although both baking powder and baking soda are an integral part of baking, chemically they are diverse. Thus, precision is vital when handling baking powder and baking soda. Also, it is equally important to store them properly as they can lose their properties if kept in humid or warm settings.

Also Read:

Effective Tips That Will Help You to Organize Your Kitchen
Ways to Unclog and Clean Your Kitchen Sink
How to Clean Kitchen Chimney

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