Why Do We Use Baking Soda?

Pretzels, like many other baked goods, have baking soda in their recipes. But why, exactly, do we use baking soda to begin with? Read on to learn more:

What is baking soda?bowl of baking soda on wooden table

Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a naturally occurring crystalline chemical compound. It is most often used in a powder form for baking as a leavening agent. How does it do this? When a base such as baking soda is mixed with an acid, a chemical reaction occurs. This chemical reaction creates bubbles of carbon dioxide which gives dough a fluffy texture, and is the main reason we use baking soda in baking.

Baking soda for household use

Baking soda is primarily used for baking. But it can also be used for household use. For instance, baking soda can be used as a scrub for fruits, veggies, countertops, grills, and teeth. It is also used in refrigerators as a way to neutralize lingering odors.

Baking soda vs. baking powder

Another product you’ll see on store shelves is baking powder. Many people often mistake the two, but baking soda and baking powder are used in very different ways. While baking powder is also a leavening agent that produces carbon dioxide bubbles, it is actually made up of baking soda and a dry acid (usually cream of tartar).

Put simply, baking powder contains the acid to create the chemical reaction; baking soda does not. This means that baking powder is used in recipes that do not have acid ingredients (as the acid is already included). Baking soda needs that extra acid in the recipe, so it is often combined with acid ingredients such as cocoa powder or buttermilk.

For more baking and pretzel tips, read through our blog or contact Uncle Henry’s Pretzel Bakery today!