Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder

By: | Updated: Jul-19, 2021

Are you going to bake a cake? There are many types of ingredients that you can use in making a cake, such as apples, flour, eggs, etc. If you are going to bake a cake with baking powder, the first thing that you need to know is what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder.

When you are going to the supermarket to buy baking powder, you may find that there are two different types of the powder. You can choose either one of them. They both come in different packages with different names. Each type of baking powder has its own unique characteristics and properties. You don’t want to ruin your cake that you are about to bake!

So the question arises—what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder? Let’s find out the answer to this question.

Summary Table

Baking Soda Baking Powder
Baking soda reacts with acids more readily than does baking powder Baking powder reacts with acids less readily than does baking soda
Baking soda reacts quickly, but its effect is limited to producing carbon dioxide gas for about 10 minutes Baking powder (sodium bicarbonate) reacts more slowly, but its effect lasts much longer
Baking soda has a leavening power of between 200 and 300 percent Baking powder has a leavening power of between 150 and 200 percent

Definitions:

Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder

Before we move on to the difference between baking soda and baking powder, let us first learn what the two are. Let’s take a look at the definitions, the similarities, and the features of these two types of leavening agents.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a chemical compound, which is made up of sodium bicarbonate. This compound is used in making a variety of items such as facial cleansers, toothpastes, baking powder, and so on. It also finds its way into our daily lives through these products. In addition to this, baking soda can be used as a deodorant and also in the kitchen to remove stains from pots and pans. The pH level of baking soda is 9, which means that it reacts with acids and alkalis at room temperature. This makes it an effective deodorant for those who sweat a lot during their work. Another great thing about baking soda is that it’s an alkaline substance that neutralizes the acidic pH level in the body while removing toxins from it. In fact, it has been used for centuries as a remedy for stomach problems due to its ability to neutralize acidity within the body.

Baking Powder

Unlike baking soda, baking powder is made up of bicarbonate of soda along with an acid called cream of tartar or potassium acid tartrate (KAT). It’s formed by mixing bicarbonate of soda with potassium acid tartrate in a mixture.

Baking powder is used as a leavening agent for breads, cakes, and biscuits. In addition to this, it’s also used in the production of yeast breads and cake mixes. It also finds its way into the production of soda bread and cocoa powder. When it comes to measuring baking powder, 1 tsp of baking powder is equal to 1/4 tsp of baking soda. Baking powder works best when used at room temperature. Unlike baking soda, it doesn’t react with acids or alkalis at room temperature. Instead, it reacts with acids and alkalis when heated above 100°C or 212°F.

What are the similarities between baking soda and baking powder?

  1. Both are leavening agents.
  2. Both react with acid to create carbon dioxide gas, which expands the batter during baking.
  3. Both are available in different forms. Baking soda is available as a granular powder and baking powder as a dry ingredient (either compressed or not). The dry ingredient version of baking powder is used by some bakers to save money on the cost of baking soda.
  4. Both contain sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or sodium acid pyrophosphate (baking powder). This ingredient is often referred to as “soda” in reference to its chemical name, sodium bicarbonate, because it also has the ability to absorb moisture from air and then release it into the air again, thus making it useful for neutralizing acids such as vinegar and lemon juice in acidic baked goods. The difference between baking soda and baking powder lies in the amount of each ingredient used.

What are the differences between baking soda and baking powder?

  1. The reactions

While both are leavening agents, baking soda reacts with acids more readily than does baking powder, producing carbon dioxide gas more quickly than does powdered acid-activated yeast called active dry yeast or instant yeast for short. Baking soda also reacts with alkali more readily than does baking powder. This reaction of baking soda and alkali produces carbon dioxide gas faster than does the reaction of baking powder with acids or with alkali.

  1. The effectiveness

Baking soda reacts quickly, but its effect is limited to producing carbon dioxide gas for about 10 minutes. In contrast, baking powder (sodium bicarbonate) reacts more slowly, but its effect lasts much longer, up to four hours in warm conditions or even longer in cold ones. Baking powder is also effective at neutralizing acids and raising the pH level of the batter or dough, which results in a soft and tender crumb when baked. When used alone, sodium bicarbonate can raise the pH level of batter to over 9.0 without the use of an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice; when used together with acid-activated yeast, it can raise the pH level to above 9.5; when used together with acids such as vinegar or lemon juice, it can raise the pH level up to 10-10.5

  1. The percentage of leavening agent

Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents, but baking soda has more leavening power than does baking powder. Baking soda has a leavening power of between 200 and 300 percent, while baking powder has a leavening power of between 150 and 200 percent. Baking soda is also stronger than baking powder, but the latter is much more effective in raising the pH level of batter or dough, which makes it more suitable for cakes, biscuits, and breads. In terms of the percentage of leavening agents, it is much higher than that of baking soda.

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