The key difference between bicarbonate and baking soda is that the bicarbonate is an anion whereas the baking soda is a complete compound.
Bicarbonate and Baking Soda are two substances that closely relate to each other due to the presence of carbon and oxygen molecules in their chemical structure. Besides, when one mentions bicarbonate, baking soda almost always comes to mind first. Because, it is a very popular and very useful household product. However, there is a glaring difference between bicarbonate and baking soda.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Bicarbonate
3. What is Baking Soda
4. Similarity Between Bicarbonate and Baking Soda
5. Side by Side Comparison – Bicarbonate vs Baking Soda in Tabular Form
What is Bicarbonate?
Bicarbonate forms by the combination of three oxygen atoms, a hydrogen atom and a carbon atom. The product of this combination can be an ion or a compound with more electrons than protons. We can describe it as a chemical species having the chemical formula HCO3–.
Thus, 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. Also, it serves as a way of keeping the digestive juices in check once the stomach has finished digesting the food. Furthermore, 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, if we translate into chemical parlance, is sodium bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate is a crystalline, a naturally occurring substance commonly found dissolved in mineral springs as part of the mineral neutron. Also, we can produce it as a synthetic compound as well. Besides, considering its usage, baking soda’s primary use is as a leavening agent, making the dough rise.
Another use is in laboratories where a bottle of it is kept handy because it reacts with acids and bases. Moreover, baking soda is also capable of suppressing small fires. Also, it is a good alternative for personal hygiene products; we can see some manufacturers using sodium bicarbonate as an ingredient in their deodorants, toothpaste, and shampoos. In addition, baking soda is also important in a variety of functions from deodorizing pungent refrigerators to curing heartburn.
What is the Similarity Between Bicarbonate and Baking Soda?
- Both bicarbonate and baking soda are useful 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.
What is the Difference Between Bicarbonate and Baking Soda?
Bicarbonate is an anion. Basically, it has a negative charge. Through chemical processes, like the Solvay process, we can produce sodium bicarbonate. On the contrary, Baking soda or 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. Hence, this is the fundamental difference between bicarbonate and baking soda. Moreover, 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. Therefore, this is another difference between bicarbonate and baking soda.
The below infographic tabulates the difference between bicarbonate and baking soda as a side by side comparison, for quick reference.
Summary – Bicarbonate vs Baking Soda
Bicarbonate and baking soda relate to each other according to their chemical compositions. Bicarbonate has the chemical formula HCO3– while baking soda is sodium bicarbonate that has the chemical formula NaHCO3. The key difference between bicarbonate and baking soda is that the bicarbonate is an anion whereas the baking soda is a complete compound.
1. “Bicarbonate.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Sept. 2018. Available here
2. “Sodium Bicarbonate.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Oct. 2018. Available here
1.”Bicarbonate-resonance” By Hellbus – Own work, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2.”SodiumBicarbonate” By Walkerma – selfmade on ChemDraw, (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
In some recipe books the terms “baking soda” and “bicarbonate” are freely used while mentioning ingredients. This happens especially when recommending recipe for baked items.Which is correct?
Hi. Can I use bicarbonate of soda mixed with lemon instead of baking powder mixed with lemon for old blackheads?
Frank Dawson says
When using sodium bicarbonate in lieu of sodium carbonate to adjust the pool water pH is there a difference in the amount used?