Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder: There Really Is A Difference!

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder: There Really Is A Difference!

When it comes to baking soda and baking powder, many often mix the two up. However, baking soda and baking powder are quite different. What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder? Baking soda is all sodium bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate is an alkaline salt compound. Baking powder, on the other hand, combines baking soda, cream of tartar, and cornstarch. 

In this article, we will explore the main differences between the two. 

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder: The Main Differences

The main difference between baking soda and baking powder lies in what they are. Baking soda is completely sodium bicarbonate. 

Sodium bicarbonate is a salt. It has the ability to neutralize acid. This is one reason why sodium bicarbonate can sometimes be in Tums. It helps with heartburn and acid reflux. It can neutralize stomach acid. 

Baking powder, conversely, is a milder combination of ingredients that acts as a chemical leavener. It contains baking soda, cream of tartar, and cornstarch. 

Nutritional Profile

When it comes to baking soda, the health benefits are numerous. For starters, it is often an excellent antidote for heartburn. Since baking soda is a neutralizer of acids, it can combat the stomach acid that makes its way out of the stomach into the esophagus, leading to painful heartburn and acid reflux.

Baking soda can also soothe canker sores and help relieve the pain of sunburns and itchiness. 

Both baking soda and baking powder are low in nutrients. They also contain no protein, no fats, and no iron. Take a look below at the comparison chart between the two. 

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder Nutrition Facts


Main Ingredients

One of the differences between baking soda and baking powder is in the main ingredients. Baking soda is purely percent sodium bicarbonate. There are no added ingredients. When it comes to baking soda, what you see is what you get. 

Baking powder is a combination of sodium bicarbonate, an acid, and corn starch. The sodium bicarbonate is typically baking soda. It works as a leavener to expand the batter. 

The acid works with sodium bicarbonate by releasing carbon dioxide gas. This batter will foam while the carbon dioxide gas is released. 

Baking powder has the acid combined; it is typically cream of tarter, but it could also be something else. 

The cornstarch acts as an aid to keep the batter from clumping up. Instead, the batter retains its smooth texture.  

When a recipe calls for baking powder, acid doesn't necessarily need to be added. This is because baking powder already has an acid. 

However, when a recipe uses baking soda, you will often see that acid is also necessary, like cream of tarter. 

Sometimes, recipes will call for both baking soda and baking powder. This allows the batter to reach maximum expansion. 

Can You Substitute Baking Powder and Baking Soda? 

One question often asked is, can you substitute baking powder and baking soda? The short answer is yes. However, the ratio will not be equal. For starters, baking powder is less potent than baking soda. Therefore you would need to use less baking soda than baking powder in your recipe. Typically, the ratio will be three times more baking powder than baking soda. 

Baking soda and baking powder are leaveners. They are fast acting and work as soon as it combines with wet ingredients. Baking soda needs an acid to work correctly. If there are no acids in your recipe, use an acid like lemon juice. Don't fret, though; many recipes already have an acid as an ingredient. Here are the most common ones:

  • Chocolate
  • Molasses
  • Cocoa
  • Brown Sugar
  • Yogurt
  • Buttermilk
  • Citrus Juice
  • Sour Cream
  • Lemon Juice
  • Honey

These acids will react with baking soda to release carbon dioxide, inducing the expansion that is important in baking. 

What Exactly is Baking Powder?

Baking powder is important when it comes to recipes like cake. It acts as a way to expand the batter, so to speak. It has sodium bicarbonate, typically baking soda, in it. Baking powder also contains an acid and cornstarch. 

A chemical reaction will occur when baking powder mixes with any liquid. Carbon dioxide will be released into the batter, causing the batter to expand. 

The mixture already contains cornstarch, which is excellent for keeping your batter from clumping together. 

set of various baking powder isolated on white background
Baking powder is a combination of sodium bicarbonate, an acid, and corn starch.


What is Baking Soda?

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. There are no additives in baking soda. It is also a leavener because it releases carbon dioxide into the batter. When it is heated up, it will also produce this gas. 

Baking soda is often used when the batter already has an acid. On the other hand, baking powder does not need to be added to a batter with acid because it has its own acid.

Baking soda is one hundred percent sodium bicarbonate. It has many uses, both in baking and around the house.


Uses of Baking Powder

Baking powder is used primarily in baking. It is an excellent leavener because it already has sodium bicarbonate and acid. It is also a great household cleaner. Mixing with water creates a paste perfect for cleaning stovetops, counters, and sinks.

Mixing baking powder and hot water can also produce a thick paste perfect for tough, dry stains stuck to your pots and pans. 

Did you ever have a box of baking powder in the back of your fridge while growing up? That is because it can also work as a deodorizer. It can eliminate those unpleasing orders that won't go away. 

More ways to use baking powder include as a deterrent for ants, an ingredient for homemade playdough, a detergent booster, and a deodorant. 

Uses of Baking Soda

Baking soda is also often great to use for cleaning. Many people will use baking soda to scrub their ovens, countertops, microwaves, etc. It needs an acid, so mixing it with lemon juice and water works best as a natural household cleaner. 

It can also be a great way to whiten teeth and to use as a deodorant. You can often find toothpaste with baking soda in it. 

Many also use baking soda as a laundry whitening booster to freshen the air and neutralize the odors in the refrigerator. 

It is also a way to combat heartburn, is used as a mouthwash, and eases the pain of canker sores. 

In Conclusion

Infographic showing the differences between baking soda and baking powder.
Both of these items should be in your pantry.
  • Baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate, while baking powder contains baking soda, cream of tartar, and cornstarch. You can make your own baking powder if you want!
  • Baking powder is often used for baking, while baking soda is commonly used for cleaning. You've probably heard of at least a couple of ways that baking soda can be used for cleaning!
  • Interestingly, baking soda is a lot higher in calories compared to baking powder.

When it comes to baking soda and baking powder, there is a fundamental difference. Baking soda is exactly one ingredient. It is sodium bicarbonate. It needs an acid to act as a leavener. However, when added to wet ingredients, it works pretty fast! 

Baking powder combines ingredients, including sodium bicarbonate, an acid, and cornstarch. Baking powder is also less strong than baking powder. Therefore, you will need more baking powder or less baking soda when substituting the two. 

Overall, there are many unique uses for the two. Baking powder and baking soda are both used in baking. However, many will sing their praises for their usefulness in the kitchen and bathroom and for treating annoying conditions like canker sores and heartburn. 

They both act as odor neutralizers, which is why you most likely grew up with either box in the back of your fridge. You may even have one now! They are also useful on carpets or even in litter boxes to eliminate unwanted odors. 

The uses for baking powder and baking soda are plenty. They can make a mom's life easier in the kitchen, during cleaning, and more! 

Use baking soda in this delicious banana bread recipe:

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Banana Bread Recipe

Banana Bread

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  • Author: Moms Who Think



1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
7 large over-ripe bananas, mashed*
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda


1. Cream the butter and sugar. Blend in the bananas, vanilla and eggs.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients.

3. Add to the bread mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into two greased 9×5 inch loaf pans.

4. Bake at 350F. Check on the bread after 35 minutes (it may take up to 60 minutes). Banana bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the banana bread in the pan for 10 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.


*If your bananas aren't ripe enough, you can quick-ripen them in the oven. Peel and bake at 450°F on an ungreased baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes until very soft.

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