Baking soda is a chemical soda and has some alkalinity in it. Because of its composition it breaks down proteins and neutralizes acids. That’s why it’s good as a leaven when baking and as a tenderizer and works as a neutralizer of odors.
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, or it can also be referred to as bicarbonate of soda and saleratus. When heated, it easily loses carbon dioxide and the carbon dioxide makes bubbles and this creates channels, which is what gives baked goods a fluffy and light texture. The trapped carbon dioxide bubbles are what allow the baked good to rise. When you look at the finished product you will see the holes that were created and left by the bubbles of carbon dioxide that escaped during the heating process. This is why baking soda and baking powder are considered baker’s yeast.
If baking soda or another leavener isn't used when baking, your products will look flat because they won't rise. When you use a leavener, such as baking soda, beaten egg whites or yeast, this is what makes the baked good rise during the baking process.
When you use baking soda for baking, you may want to balance it with an acid such as buttermilk or lemon juice because your product may have a soapy, bitter flavor as a result.
Baking soda has been used for more than 160 years for various purposes, including baking, but it can also be used to get rid of odors and to clean with. If you’ve been bitten or stung by an insect and it’s itching, try mixing baking soda and water, which will create a thick paste. Apply the paste to the itchy area. This will give you relief. If you are broken out in hives, add 2 cups of baking soda to your bath water and soak in it. Or, put a box of baking soda in your refrigerator to keep the inside of the fridge clean and fresh and your food smelling as it should. Baking soda will also put out electrical and grease fires and gets rid of kitty litter odor. To do this, cover the bottom of the litter box with some baking soda and then add the kitty litter on top of it. Yet another use is cleaning your hair brushes and combs using baking soda as well.
Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.