What is Baking Soda?


Question: What is baking soda?

Answer: Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), commonly known as baking soda, is a time-honored odor absorber and acid neutralizer. Baking soda can be found as a naturally occurring compound, but is more frequently manufactured from other naturally derived materials, like trona ore. Baking soda can be produced by the reaction of carbon dioxide and soda ash, a naturally occurring mineral.

: Does your Baking Soda contain any GMO ingredients?
Answer: It depends on your definition of GMO – and which brand of Baking Soda you’re referring to. To my knowledge there is not an “organic” baking soda.
Arm and Hammer makes sodium bicarbonate by mining trona ore from Green River, Wyoming.  This method uses carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide is often made from GMO fertilizer… A small point.. but the answer to the question would be, possibly. http://www.tourwyoming.com/discover-sweetwater/industry.html
Answer: If you use Bob’s Red Mill or another company who simply uses pure sodium bicarbonate naturally found in the earth, then no.

Let’s start by explaining the four ways in which baking soda can be made.

1. In 1846, Austin Church, a Connecticut physician, and John Dwight, a farmer from Massachusetts, established a factory in New York to manufacture baking soda. Dr. Church’s son, John, owned a mill called the Vulcan Spice Mills. Vulcan, the Roman god of forge and fire, was represented by an arm and hammer, and the new baking soda company adopted the arm and hammer logo as its own. Today, the Arm & Hammer brand of baking soda is among the most widely recognized brand names.

Named after Nicolas Leblanc, the French chemist who invented it, the Leblanc process was the earliest means of manufacturing soda ash (Na 2 CO 3 ), from which sodium bicarbonate is made. Sodium chloride (table salt) was heated with sulfuric acid, producing sodium sulfate and hydrochloric acid. The sodium sulfate was then heated with coal and limestone to form sodium carbonate, or soda ash.

2. In the late 1800s, another method of producing soda ash was devised by Ernest Solvay, a Belgian chemical engineer. The Solvay method was soon adapted in the United States, where it replaced the Leblanc process. In the Solvay process, carbon dioxide and ammonia are passed into a concentrated solution of sodium chloride. Crude sodium bicarbonate precipitates out and is heated to form soda ash, which is then further treated and refined to form sodium bicarbonate of United States Pharnacopoeia (U.S.P.) purity.

Although this method of producing baking soda ash is widely used, it is also problematic because the chemicals used in the process are pollutants and cause disposal problems.

3. (The most common method used today) Trona ore for Wyoming is used. If trona ore is used, it must first be mined. After it has been brought to the surface, the trona ore is transported to a variety of processing plants. There, the ore is refined into a slurry of sodium sesquicarbonate, an intermediate soda ash product that actually contains both soda ash (sodium carbonate) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) Next, the intermediate soda ash solution is put into a centrifuge, which separates the liquid from the crystals. The crystals are then dissolved in a bicarbonate solution (a soda ash solution made by the manufacturer) in a rotary dissolver, thereby becoming a saturated solution. This solution is filtered to remove any non-soluble materials and is then pumped through a feed tank to the top of a carbonating tower. Purified carbon dioxide is introduced into the bottom of the tower and held under pressure. As the saturated sodium solution moves through the tower, it cools and reacts with the carbon dioxide to form sodium bicarbonate crystals. These crystals are collected at the bottom of the tower and transferred to another centrifuge, where excess solution (filtrate) is filtered out. The crystals are then washed in a bicarbonate solution, forming a cake-like substance ready for drying. The filtrate that is removed from the centrifuge is recycled to the rotary dissolver, where it is used to saturate more intermediate soda ash crystals. The washed filter cake is then dried on either a continuous belt conveyor or in a vertical tube drier called a flash dryer. The theoretical yield from the process, according to the Church & Dwight Company, is between 90 and 95 percent, and the baking soda manufactured is more than 99 percent pure. A key step in the process occurs in the carbonating tower. Here, the saturated soda ash solution moves from the top of the tower downward. As it falls, the solution cools and reacts with carbon dioxide to form sodium bicarbonate crystals—baking soda. After filtering, washing, and drying, the crystals are sorted by particle size and packaged appropriately.
4. Natural Soda recovers sodium bicarbonate using a process known as solution mining. This involves pumping hot waterapproximately 1900 feet underground to dissolve the underlying nahcolite beds and return the bicarb saturated water to the surface. By reducing the temperature of the liquor, sodium bicarbonate is crystallized. Excess water is then removed by high speed centrifuging (spin drying). The resultant damp crystal mass is further dried, screened and packed in accordance with industry designated specifications, while maintaining stringent quality accreditation standards.
This is how Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda is made.Summary:
Ask the company where their baking soda was made. The two top places where baking soda is made are Colorado and Wyoming.
The baking soda made in Colorado is just pure sodium bicarbonate and doesn’t need to be processed like the baking soda made from Trona in Wyoming.

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About simplycookingrealfood

I love to share recipes and ideas. I love to cook, and love to eat good food! Thanks for stopping by!

3 responses »

  1. circled plus says:

    It’s nearly impossible to find experienced people
    on this subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about!

  2. Storm says:

    It contains corn starch so yes GMO. There is naturally occurring soda from Colorado but I don’t know what anti-clumping agent is used.

    • Baking powder contains corn starch. Baking soda does not contain corn starch.

      But, in regards to baking powder, yes, it can contain GMO corn starch.

      To avoid GMOs, buy baking powder labeled “Non-GMO” or make your own.


      1 tsp. baking soda
      1 tsp. cream of tartar (Non-GMO)

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