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Baking Soda

Baking soda is the common name of sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate. It is an alkaline compound with the chemical formula NaHCO3. It is found in crystalline form in nature, so, it is ground to a fine powder for cooking purposes. Baking soda was manufactured for the first time in 1971 by French chemist Nicolas Lablanc.

Baking Soda

Preparation of baking soda

Baking soda is produced on a large scale by using the Solvay process. The raw materials required in this process include water, ammonia, concentrated brine solution, and carbon dioxide. This process is inexpensive and requires a less number of raw materials. The main chemical reaction that occurs in the production of baking soda is as follows;

CO2 + H2O + NH3 + NaCl → NaHCO3 + NH4Cl

2 NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O

In this process, when the ammonical brine solution is passed through carbon dioxide gas, it produces baking soda.

The carbon dioxide produced in the last reaction is recycled to produce baking soda (NaHCO3). We can see that NaCl (common salt) is also required to form the baking soda.

Properties of baking soda

  • It is a mild non-corrosive base.
  • It is non-flammable, in powder form it is not explosive in nature.
  • It is an odourless, white crystalline solid, with a bitter or salty taste.
  • Its melting point is more than 50 degrees centigrade.
  • Its molecular weight is 84.
  • It is basic in nature; the pH value is 13.
  • It is soluble in water and can be separated from water through evaporation.
  • Its solubility increases with an increase in temperature.
  • When its solution is heated, it undergoes decomposition to give sodium carbonate with the evolution of carbon dioxide, the reaction is shown below;
    2NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O

How does baking soda work?

Baking soda is an alkaline compound. It produces carbon dioxide gas when it combines with an acid. When it is used for cooking, the carbon dioxide produced gets trapped in batter, causing it to expand. The commonly used acids to cause this reaction are vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt, cream of tartar, etc. However, this reaction can also takes place without an acid, for example, baking soda also produces gas when it is decomposed due to heat or when it is exposed to more than 80 degrees centigrade of temperature.

How to test the freshness or potency of baking soda?

Baking soda tends to decompose over time. So, if you want to test the potency or freshness of baking soda, add a pinch of baking soda to vinegar in a bowl. If it foams rapidly, it is still fresh or active.

Uses of Baking Soda

Baking soda offers lots of uses. Some of which are described below;

For washing foodstuffs: It can be used to remove pesticides and other germs from fruits and vegetables. The fruits like apples soaked for 10 to 15 minutes in a mixture of baking soda and water is enough to remove up to 95% pesticides and insecticides from them. It is effective than bleach or tap water alone.

Natural cleaner: After mixing with water, it can be used as a natural cleaner. You may wipe away food residues from the inside of your fridge. You can pour baking soda mixed with hot water to remove odour from your pipes, and to clean sinks, tubs, tiles, etc. It also removes the bad smell, for example, you can sprinkle it on your carpet and after a few minutes vacuum it and get rid of the offending smell of the dirty carpet.

To clean pans and pots: It can be used to remove stains of food and oil from the utensils. Fill the pan with hot water mixed with baking soda and leave it for 15-20 minutes and then wash it. The baking soda will help remove the hard food residues.

Washing clothes: It can be added to water or detergent used to clean clothes. This way you can freshen up the clothes without using chemical-based detergents.

To alleviate heartburn: It also helps neutralize excess acid. When consumed after mixing half tablespoon baking soda with a half cup of water, it helps ease heartburn.

Bug bites: It provides you relief from the bug bite. A paste made of baking soda and water can be applied to the site of the bite several times a day.

Good for teeth during pregnancy: The vomiting during pregnancy can damage your tooth enamel. If you are experiencing regular vomiting, you can rinse your mouth with a mixture of one tablespoon of baking soda and water.

Treat nail infections: Baking soda has antifungal properties. So, in case of mild nail infection, you can use a baking soda and water soak.

Relief from cancer treatment discomfort: The cancer treatment that involves radiation or chemotherapy may cause throat discomfort. In this case, swishing your mouth with a mixture made of one tablespoon soda, one tablespoon salt and 1 quart of water can ease throat discomfort. Make sure you don't swallow it while gargling its solution.

For making baking powder: Baking soda is used to form baking powder, it is the main component of baking powder. For example, baking soda is mixed with mild edible acid to form baking powder.

Antacid: As it is a mild base it can be used to neutralize the excess of acid produced in the stomach.

Extinguishing Fire: It is also a major component of fire extinguishers. The sulphuric acid reacts with baking soda in a fire extinguisher that produces carbon dioxide gas which put off the fire.

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