What’s the difference between bicarbonate of soda, baking soda and baking powder?

by Polly N on February 5, 2014

 There seems to be a lot of confusion over the difference between baking soda, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder so today, we’re going to clear some things up and get to the bottom of it all.

baking soda

First things first: Baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are different names for the same thing. In Australia, the term bicarbonate of soda is mostly used and in America, it is referred to as baking soda. Confusing huh!

Bicarbonate of soda and baking powder are both leavening agents and expand when cooked helping products to rise.

Baking soda/Bicarbonate of soda are part of the natural mineral natron and makes a brilliant staple to have around the home for a number of uses which I will share with you below. In ancient times, Egyptians used natron as a soap for cleansing purposes and also later in time, many civilizations used it for making bread and other foods rise.

This little wonder product has many potent medicinal uses;

It may help fight colds and flu

Some believe that when taken internally, it can help to maintain the pH balance in the bloodstream.

Ulcer Pain

An effective remedy for ulcers; dosing is typically 1-2 teaspoons in a full glass of water.


Try making a simple deoderant with a pinch of baking soda and water.

Splinter removal

Soak the affected area in a small glass of water with a tablespoon of baking soda twice a day. Many splinters will remove themselves after a few days of soaking.

Insect bites

A paste of baking soda and water can help relieve itching from bites. Try also rubbing with just the powder. Can also be effective for rashes and poison ivy.

Teeth whitener

Crush one strawberry with ½ teaspoon baking soda and spread onto teeth for 5 minutes. Brush your teeth and rinse.

Foot soak

Mix three tablespoons of baking soda to a tub of warm water and soak away.

Sunburn remedy

Soak in a lukewarm bath with ½ cup baking soda added. When getting out of the bath, dry off naturally rather than rubbing down with a towel. A compress can also be made with water and baking soda and applied to the affected area.

Detox bath

Add ½ cup – 1 cup baking soda to your bath to soothe aches and pains. I do this regularly, often adding some apple cider vinegar.


A word about aluminium and baking soda

Many baking soda’s are now sold as “aluminium free” because at one time, there was a rumour/hoax that it contained aluminium which infact it apparently doesn’t. (There’s a lot of conflicting information about it!) If I were you I would still buy the aluminium free version anyway just to be on the safeside because let’s face it you never know!


Baking Powder

Baking powder contains bicarbonate of soda and comes pre-mixed with the acidic ingredient so all you need to add is the moisture.  You can make your own baking powder: simply mix two parts cream of tartar with one part bicarbonate of soda. Baking powder has a neutral taste and is often used in recipes that have other neutral-tasting ingredients, such as milk.


Do you use baking soda or bicarb for home use? If so, tell me your favourite way to use it below.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kezia February 7, 2014 at 9:53 am

Brilliant article – I love bicarbonate of soda ( I bought a 25kg bag last year and have nearly used it all!) but was never sure of the difference between them all!
I use it mixed with oats to exfoliate my face, and to clean my hair!


Ulrika February 13, 2014 at 11:42 am

Just a comment about using bicarbonate of soda for heartburn and similar conditions and to balance the blood pH as mentioned in the post, one needs to be careful not to overdose as it can actually affect the blood pH in a negative way too. This is why so called buffered antacids are recommended instead for frequent heart burn problems.


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