What’s the Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda?

(upbeat futuristic music) – If you’ve ever made one
of those paper mache volcanoes, you know that household acids like vinegar and bases like baking soda react
to produce gases, that bubbly lava. But did you know that a similar chemical reaction is what makes cakes and biscuits fluffy? If you see a recipe call for baking soda or baking powder, that’s what helping your tasty baked goods rise. Baking soda and baking powder are just made up of slightly different compounds, which can affect the chemistry of your cooking. Back before grocery stores and fancy cake recipes, if you wanted to make your bread rise, you needed leavening agents from natural sources. And by that, I mean bakers would leave their dough sitting out so that wild yeast from the air could move in. The yeasts digest sugars in the flour, and make chemicals like carbon dioxide through a process called fermentation. All that carbon dioxide gas
makes the dough slowly rise and create fluffy loaves of bread. Eventually, people started learning
to save some of their raw dough or just some of the flour water microbe goop to kickstart the process the next time. We still use this method
to make sourdough bread today. And without yeast, bread just doesn’t have the texture and flavor we’re used to, but around the 1830s, bakers started figuring out that they could create a quick
chemical reaction themselves so they didn’t have to wait for the yeast to do its thing. That way, other baked goods like cakes and biscuits could be lighter and fluffier. So bakers started using chemical leavening agents like baking soda, which, if we were to use the actual chemical name, we would just call it sodium bicarbonate. It’s made from soda ash, which at the time, it came from the ashes of sodium-rich marine plants like seaweeds, or it was made synthetically by reacting table salt, also known as sodium chloride, with other chemicals and minerals. Today, the chemicals needed to produce soda ash and baking soda also come from mines. But the baking soda you find
on the supermarket shelves is the same compound that we’ve been using for almost two centuries. Usually, bakers would mix sodium bicarbonate and sour milk, which is full of lactic acid, and the reaction would produce
bubbles of carbon dioxide, like the eruption in a science fair volcano. Those gas bubbles can puff up
bread dough or cake batter, but the acidity of the sour milk isn’t all that consistent, so neither were these reactions
or their final baked goods. The next leap forward in baking technology was in the 1840s with cream of tartar, also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, or potassium bitartrate. It’s an acidic byproduct of wine fermentation, and when you mix it with sodium bicarbonate and some water, you get carbon dioxide bubbles. Cream of tartar helped make the chemical reactions in baking more consistent, but there was one big downside: the availability and price varied depending on the grape harvest in a given year. For a while, sodium bicarbonate and cream of tartar were sold in twin packets, which you added to the wet ingredients when you were ready to set off the reaction and stick your batter in the oven. This worked fine for bakers, but the supply of cream of tartar still wasn’t consistent. Enter the chemist Eben Horsford, who figured out how to make an acid called monocalcium phosphate from beef bones in 1856. Like the cream of tartar reaction, when you mix monocalcium phosphate, baking soda, and water, you get carbon dioxide bubbles. So Horsford mixed monocalcium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate together and then added some cornstarch to help keep everything dry and prevent early reactions. He marketed this concoction
as Horsford’s bread preparation and voila, baking powder was born. During the 1880s, people realized they could extract monocalcium phosophate from mines instead, no beef bones required. And nowadays, most of the baking powder you’ll find at the grocery store
is labeled double-acting. Like the name suggests, the sodium bicarbonate in double-acting baking powder reacts twice, once with an acid when the wet ingredients are added and then with a second acid
because of the heat of the oven. That way, your dough keeps rising while it’s baking and you get a fluffier product. However, some of these heat-activated acids can contain aluminum. Some people avoid double-acting baking powder because they’re worried about
the health effects of aluminum, although the CDC says the amount people consume in foods isn’t enough to be dangerous. Either way, other double-acting baking powders are aluminum free and use compounds
like sodium acid pyrophosphate instead. So there you have it, baking soda
is just another name for sodium bicarbonate, while baking powder is sodium bicarbonate
plus an acid or two and some cornstarch, an all-in-one chemical concoction
just waiting for moisture and heat to get the reactions going. You can’t substitute baking soda for baking powder unless your recipe also includes an acid, something like buttermilk, vinegar, or cream of tartar. So next time you bake a batch
of chocolate chip cookies, remember to thank chemistry
for that fluffy, chewy goodness. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow brought to you by SciShow aprons. I’m not even kidding. It’s a thing that we have at dftba.com/scishow, along with a number of other products
that you can purchase and display to show you love and appreciation for SciSchow. Thanks for representing if you want to. And if you’re doing any baking this Thanksgiving season, tweet out your baked goods to us. Hopefully, you use the right kind of baking products and things did not go poorly. In honor of Pi Day, we thought that we would talk today about pie. No, not pi. Pie. Tender crust with fruit inside, the filled dessert that is superior
to the other (audio fades out).

100 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda?

  1. That is right! I am thanking chemistry today for the blessings of my ? Irish Soda bread today! It was a first time experience in baking homemade bread with no yeast! I have been marveling all day about baking soda and baking powder together. I think it' s awesome!

  2. I can't believe I ate baking soda with sour milk in maxims.maxims serves the worst pancakes now my opinion.maxims should improve the pancakes and use either baking powder or flour without sour milk to make pancakes.thats why I prefer the solaire pancakes and homemade pancakes.

  3. OMG, just explained why crushed Vitamin C tablets helped my bread rise – I was using Baking Soda and the ascorbic acid got the reaction going.

  4. My favorite cookie recipe calls for cream of tartar. It's literally the only recipe I have that calls for it. I think it gives it a special flavor.

  5. Backing poder has an acid that can donate two protons causing two reactions one when cold and one when hot

  6. I was going to ask what does baking soda and vinegar have to do with a school project volcano but after a search i realized that the school volcano has been majorly Nerfed. I suppose kids dont do sulfuric acid and sugar anymore either.

  7. Ok, so I get that a substitute for 'x' amount of baking powder equates to 'y' amount of baking soda plus 'z' amount of cream of tarter. My question that I cannot seem to find on any google search, as someone looking to make snickerdoodle batter, the recipe given online is 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, without including any cream of tarter. I have read online that adding tarter can help bring out the fluff and softness. So if I were to either replace the baking soda with tartar, or add a little bit to the ingredient, how much would you or anybody here recommend?

  8. Important note:
    Not all acid-base reactions give off gases. Only carbonate bases form CO2 when neutralized.

  9. Why not just stick your wet cake mix in your car's exhaust pipe. The lead in your exhaust(for cars that run on leaded gasoline)sweeten the cake and the CO2 will make your cake rise.

  10. Can you guys do a science of cooking series? You can have stuff like what tempering chocolate does or why salt is added at different times because it cooks things like eggs.

  11. I litteraly just read about this a week ago and I only had baking soda and added real butter but it didn't fluff up. Now I know I need creme of tartar. ❤ god I love this channel. I learn so much it! It's like having a souped up version of Google I can binge watch for hours. ❤❤❤???

  12. CDC sucks and doesn't take into count all of the other places they allow Aluminum into our bodies such as; water, other foods, air, etc. If that was the only place we we're exposed to it, then fine, but we are inundated in chemicals.

  13. Several of my family cookie recipies actually call for baking powder, baking soda, AND sour milk. Double the bicarbonate double the bubbles?

  14. Why are you making the meaningless science behind actual cooking seem like chemical warfare? You could have just explained the difference between baking soda and baking powder but no. You had to go full autistic dictator. Rainmam Mao.
    Thanks fuckwit.

  15. Once I was in a high school cooking class. We were making cheesecake. The original recipe was for a lemon cheesecake and had lemon juice in it, but we were leaving that out. As such Instead of using half baking powder and half baking soda, I opted to use entirely baking powder to help the structure, given the lack of acid. The teacher saw me doing this and docked me points and wouldn't listen as to why it was an appropriate substitution. They were very rude about it, and frankly, I'm still salty.

  16. Much of the English speaking world (including the UK and Ireland) don't call it "baking soda," they just use its proper name, "bicarbonate of soda."

  17. So Scishow some cool baking chemistry: I have a chocolate cake recipie that is raised by baking soda and vinegar.

  18. Nice chemistry lesson, but what's the effective difference in the two? Why use one over the other, and for what purpose???

  19. in my home we substitute baking powder for baking soda + citric acid (it's usually white crystals in small bags it looks almost like fine sugar)

  20. It makes me extremely angry when you say "nowadays" as if you are 100 + years old, why do you talk like an old man, HANK?

  21. Powder PUFFS and Soda SPREADS… It's the one baking thing I remember the most when baking cookies. So, if you want puffy plump cookies use baking powder, if you want slender sleek cookies use baking soda.

  22. And that is how you poison yourself, folks. As the non-fermented grains will start to ferment in your intestines, releasing phytic acid and other poisonous wonders. Farts, obesity, arthritis are just a few of the results.

  23. Brownies, on the way from Colorado! I used, um …. some.. stuff, ..and things. I think one of the boxes said baked somthinorother. Cheers

  24. Can anyone tell me, is it possible to produce 2000ppm of CO2 using the reaction between acetic acid and baking soda? If its possible, how much of each materials will I need for the 2000 ppm yield?

  25. I do a lot of baking. For breads and bread like pastries, such as cinnamon roles, yeast is the way to go.

    Biscuits, scones, cup cakes, pan cakes,etc, require baking powder. If you use baking soda, you use much less that you would of baking powder and as you mentioned, there has to be some acidic ingredient. Baking soda is not used for that purpose very often, these days. Baking powder is much easier and more reliable.

  26. I hope theres no mad cow disease floating around in that beef bone mix….yeeeeiish!!
    i'll stick with beer batter and lemonade in my damper and an egg if scones… is enough.

  27. The speed of your explanation is too fast, so even though you put so much info. But the people didn't understand the basic idea that what the difference between baking soda and baking powder. I suggest you write only two chemical reaction, and it will be so clear to explain what is the difference. Simple is clear, we don't need to know too much extra info, actually.

  28. Baking soda in water is the absolute best thing for indigestion or acid reflux it instantly fixes the problem forget tumes forget rolaids or any of that other expensive stuff a little teaspoon of baking soda in about half a cup of water is the absolute best thing for at upset stomach trust me

  29. I never knew baking powder was an acid. I went to my kitchen and threw baking soda and baking powder in a mug, then added hot tap water. It was just like vinegar and baking soda, just with a milder smell. I am amazed, and happy that I know this for my baking in the future. SCIENCE

  30. Kul snimak, ali evo summary – 4:03. Nisu isti.
    Hank kaže da ne treba da koristim jedno umesto drugog. Za ono za šta je meni potrebno (keto palačinke), nije bitno koje koristim, iskreno.
    Ali za druge recepte, da, jeste. Nemoj ih mešati.

  31. Baking powder also has an expiration date. The acids in Baking Powder eventually break down, leaving just the sodium bicarbonate. So baking powder just kind if turns into baking soda.

  32. if schools taught chemistry through the lense of baking, I would have been so so soooooo much more willing to attend classes

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