Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder – What’s The Difference?

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder

Baking soda and baking powder are two of the most common ingredients in baking. In fact, baking powder and soda can even be used on things like carpets to remove pungent smells such as cat and dog urine. They are important for a lot of different reasons, but many people don’t actually realize that there’s a difference between the two of them!

Today, we’re here to discuss all things baking soda vs baking powder. For instance, can you use baking soda instead of baking powder? What recipes call for baking soda rather than baking powder? Soon you will know the answer to these questions so you can impress your friends with your random knowledge on your next night out. Oh, and you can also make a delicious cake in the correct manner! 

What’s The Difference Between Baking Powder And Baking Soda?

One thing is common between both of these substances – they’re leavening agents. When you want to get your cake to rise up, you usually put baking powder or soda in them to get the job done. Their chemical makeup is slightly different, however, and thus they can also differ in the ways that they work with other ingredients in recipes.

Baking Soda

Baking Soda goes by another name that you may have heard of before – bicarbonate of soda. It’s a chemical agent that will help your baked goods to rise. It’s an alkaline base compound. It’s designed not to be acidic, so it’s usually combined with acidic ingredients to create carbon dioxide gas. That’s why you often hear about baking soda being used in school science experiments. For baking, baking soda is generally designed to be used alongside acids in order to neutralize them. Some common ingredients used with baking soda include lemon juice, yogurt and buttermilk. As the acid and alkaline ingredients interact with each other, the baked goods begin to rise thanks to the production of carbon dioxide. Of course, with baking soda, less is certainly more! 

Baking Powder

Keep the information above in mind, because baking powder is actually made in part out of baking soda in addition to dry acid. This dry acid is often something like sodium aluminum sulfate. You need to use baking powder along with a liquid in order to get it to react. You can get two key types of baking powder – double acting and single acting powder. They both do slightly different things, though you are more likely to find double-acting powder in the grocery store.

For the most part, you would use baking powder in any recipes where you don’t need acidic ingredients too. It’s a good choice if you are making things like biscuits, for instance. 

So what’s the difference between the two? Mainly, the lack of an acid chemical in baking soda is the key difference. This can make a huge difference in terms of how they are used in recipes. One of them is more often used in recipes where there are acidic ingredients, whereas the other is used in recipes without acidic ingredients.

Can I Use Both In A Recipe?

It’s possible to use both in a recipe. In fact, some recipes will ask you to use both baking soda and baking powder. For instance, if you are making baked goods, then these are usually going to brown much more effectively if they are in environments with high levels of alkaline. In this case, you would add baking soda to the dish in order to make the environment more alkaline to create the browning effect. They are also both used in situations where the baking soda helps to neutralize any acid in the recipe, but there isn’t enough carbon dioxide for the leavening agent to fully work. In this case, the baking powder is added to help the food to rise more efficiently. 

There are also situations where baking powder would need to be used instead of baking soda. If you don’t have any baking soda on hand then baking soda can often work, but you will need to use roughly three times the amount of baking soda as baking powder. Just be careful, since with some recipes there’s a chance that you may get some strange tastes when the recipe is finished if you don’t use the substitutes correctly.


Baking powder and baking soda are similar in many ways, but also quite different. Just remember the difference before you use them in recipes, and you’ll get the results you are looking for!