Difference Between Bicarbonate and Baking Soda

Bicarbonate vs Baking Soda

Bicarbonate and Baking Soda are two substances closely related due to the presence of both carbon and oxygen molecules in their chemical formulas. When one mentions bicarbonate, baking soda almost always comes to mind first. It is a very popular and very useful household product. There is, however, a glaring difference between bicarbonate and baking soda.

What is Bicarbonate?

Bicarbonate is formed with the combination of three oxygen molecules, a hydrogen molecule and a carbon molecule, with the result being an ion, or a compound with more electrons than protons. It can be best described in the chemical formula HCO3-. This compound is a crucial part of the body’s pH buffering system, in layman terms: it is responsible for keeping one’s blood in a state that is not too acidic or too basic. It also serves as a way of keeping the digestive juices in check once the stomach has finished digesting the food. Carbonic acid in rainwater also forms bicarbonate ions when it hits rocks. This flow of bicarbonate ions is important in keeping the carbon cycle going.

What is Baking Soda?

Baking soda, when translated to chemical parlance, is sodium bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate is a crystalline, naturally occurring substance, commonly found dissolved in mineral springs as part of the mineral neutron. It can also be formed artificially. Baking soda’s primary use is as a leavening agent, making the dough rise. Another use is found in laboratories where a bottle of it is kept handy because it reacts with acids and bases. Baking soda is also capable of suppressing small fires. It is also a good alternative for personal hygiene products as it is seen that some companies have even used sodium bicarbonate as an ingredient in their deodorants, toothpastes and shampoos. Baking soda can also be used in a variety of functions from deodorizing pungent refrigerators to curing heartburn.

What is the difference between bicarbonate and baking soda?

Both bicarbonate and baking soda can be used as a neutralizing agent. Baking soda works like an antacid, alleviating acid indigestion and heartburn while bicarbonate is responsible for keeping the blood’s pH level normal. Another similarity between the two is the presence of the chemical formula HCO3.

· Bicarbonate is an anion. Basically, it’s a negatively charged substance. Through chemical processes, like the Solvay process, sodium bicarbonate can be formed. Sodium bicarbonate is less likely to have another chemical reaction compared to bicarbonate; this is due to the evening out of protons and electrons in its chemical structure.

· Bicarbonate, although useful in itself, has a very high tendency to have a chemical reaction because of its extra electron. In contrast, it takes a powerful chemical reaction to break up baking soda. 


In brief:

Baking Soda vs Bicarbonate 

1. Bicarbonate and baking soda help keep pH in check, bicarbonate mostly in our body and baking soda in laboratories.

2. Bicarbonate and baking soda both have HCO3 in their chemical formulas.

3. Bicarbonate, however, is an anion. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a complete compound.

4. Baking soda has less likelihood of a chemical reaction compared to bicarbonate because its ions are now partially resolved with the addition of sodium. It takes a more powerful reaction to break up the bonds in baking soda.

5. Baking soda can be thought of as an all-around substance with its numerous uses. Bicarbonate, on the other hand, needs to be part of a chemical reaction to form another substance for it to be useful for other purposes.