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Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder

Baking Soda vs. Baking PowderBaking soda and baking powder are popular leavening agents and they are essential for many baking recipes. They have a lot of similarities but there are also very important differences which I will cover in this article.

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder – Any difference?

You often hear this question; the simple answer is, “Yes, they are different.” They are both leavening agents that cause your batter or dough to rise while baking. The difference is that their chemical composition is different, so they are suitable for different purposes. You will get to know more about the differences, storage, shelf life, and every other thing you need to know here.

What is Baking Soda?

Baking soda is a natural mineral compound. It is also known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate. It is an alkaline leavening agent so, it works well in baking recipes with acidic elements. When added to a batter with acidic ingredients, it creates carbon dioxide in the form of bubbles responsible for the rising of the batter.

What is Baking Powder?

Baking powder is a combination of dry acid and baking soda. Due to its acidic component, you don’t need any acidic ingredients for it to activate batter rising. The acid reacts with the base to form carbon dioxide gas bubbles during the heating process. This causes the food or batter to become light and fluffy.

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder – Are they the same?

People sometimes think that baking powder and baking soda are the same. The truth is that they are different. Both are leavening agents, but their reaction with ingredients and chemical composition is different.  

The easiest way to explain the difference is that baking soda is alkaline so, it will go well with acidic recipes. When it comes in contact with acidic recipes like buttermilk, lemon juice, or yogurt, it gives way to bubbles responsible for the rising of the batter or dough.

On the other hand, baking powder is a blend of baking soda and dry acids. Due to its acidity, you can combine it with recipes that have no acidic nature. For example, it performs well with ingredients for making biscuits, pancakes, and cornbread.

How to Use Baking Soda in Baking

Baking soda is a leavening agent that performs the function of helping batter to rise in baking. When used in a recipe, it causes a reaction that neutralizes acidic ingredients in order to create a space for the batter to rise. Acidic ingredients are buttermilk, yogurt, brown sugar, molasses, chocolate, and lemon juice. If you are not using acidic ingredients in your recipes, you don’t need baking soda. The fact that an ingredient is acidic doesn’t mean that it is not suitable for consumption.

The absence of baking soda in your recipe can cause your cake to remain flat. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be too much in your batter. If the ratio of your ingredients is not balanced, you will likely experience bitter or soapy final products.

How to Use Baking Powder in Baking

Baking powder is also a rising agent. The ratio of baking powder to flour is one teaspoon to one cup of flour.

Different Kinds of Baking Powder

The two types of baking powder that you will find in the market are double-acting baking powder and single-acting baking powder. While the double-acting reacts with ingredients to rise twice, the single-acting only rises once.

The double-acting type allows your batter to rise first at room temperature and when the batter is heated. On the other hand, the single-acting reacts to allow the batter to rise just once when the batter is heated. If you have a professional pastry chef around, you will notice that they use this a lot.

Can Baking Soda Replace Baking Powder?

The best answer to this question is that you should always use the two separately for the exact purposes they are suitable for. However, if you don’t have baking soda, you can use baking powder, although you will need to increase the quantity.

Substituting the two is not advisable because your batter can turn out to be too acidic and bitter. The baked product might be dense or hard if insufficient, it may taste too salty because the baking powder has more sodium than baking soda. The basic calculation is that one teaspoon of baking powder to ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.

How do you know that Baking Soda and Baking Powder is still fresh

To test for the freshness of baking soda, you can do the following:

·         Get a small container

·         Add 3 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar or lemon juice to the bowl

·         Add ½ teaspoon of the baking soda to the vinegar

·         Stir it a little bit and watch the reaction

·         If there’s a bubble, it means that the baking soda is still fresh

·         If not, get a new package.

The testing of baking powder is almost the same. The difference is that you use warm water instead of vinegar. The steps are below:

·         Get a small container

·         Add 3 tablespoons of warm water to the bowl

·         Add ½ teaspoon of the baking powder to the warm water

·         Stir it a little bit and watch the reaction

·         If there’s moderate fizz, it means that the baking powder is still fresh

·         If not, get a new package.

What can you use instead of baking powder?

Instead of baking powder, there are other substitutes you can use like Buttermilk, Molasses, Plain Yogurt, Sour milk, Lemon Juice, Vinegar, Cream of Tartar, Self-rising flour.

How Long Do Baking Soda and Baking Powder Last?

Both baking powder and baking soda have a long shelf life. However, over time, these leavening agents tend to lose their potency.

Baking soda can still last up to 2 years while baking powder lasts for about 18 months. However, once you open the pack, its shelf life depends on how you store it. It won’t last so long if it is in a humid environment.


The best place to store them is in an airtight container away from humidity. Humidity or moisture affect the potency of the leavening agents, so you can store it in your cupboard away from sinks, stoves, or dishwashers.

Let’s connect on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. I love keeping in touch with you, and nothing brings me more joy than seeing pictures of your creations. Tag me @cheflolaskitchen on Instagram and Facebook.

Khaulat Umar

Sunday 13th of March 2022

Yummy 👍