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Foods -- General

What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder?

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Both baking soda and baking powder are used for leavening. Recipes obtain part of their leavening from the reaction of acid and alkaline ingredients when both are present. Baking soda. The alkaline ingredient in recipes requiring leavening is baking soda, also sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda. Baking soda alone is not able to produce carbon dioxide for leavening. When placed in contact with an acid, a chemical reaction occurs and carbon dioxide is produced. The acid ingredients usually used are sour milk, sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, molasses, and/or fruit juices. Baking powder. Baking powder was developed over 100 years ago. The original baking powder was 60 parts of cream of tartar (acid ingredient), 30 parts of baking soda (alkaline ingredient), and 10 parts of potato starch (absorbent to take up moisture and prevent the interaction of the two active components - cream of tartar and baking soda). Today's baking soda is composed of baking soda, starch, and soda). Today's baking soda is composed of baking soda, starch, and two acid salts. It is these two salts that cause these powders to be dubbed double-acting baking powders. These powders contain a phosphate salt capable of reacting at room temperature when dissolved and a sulfate salt requiring oven temperatures for reaction. By law, these powders must provide 12 percent carbon dioxide. By practice, they usually provide 14 percent. Here are some recommended substitutions: * 1 teaspoon baking powder = 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar * 1 teaspoon = 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt * 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/3 to 1/2 cup molasses

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, NC State University in July 2004

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