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Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO3) – Structure, Properties, and Uses

Sep 6, 2022

Have you ever tried making a cake? If so, you’re probably aware that baking soda is one of the primary ingredients for a fluffy cake. The chemical name for baking soda is Sodium Bicarbonate, and its molecular structure is NaHCO3.Usually available as a fine powder, baking soda has a white appearance. Nicolas Leblanc, a French scientist, created sodium carbonate, sometimes known as soda ash, in 1791. Fishermen used potassium and sodium bicarbonates to preserve fish in the 1800s. Later, in 1846, two American bakers named Austin Church and John Dwight produced baking soda for the first time at their factory using sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide.

Sodium Bicarbonate Production

The chemical is created on a large scale by reacting cold and concentrated brine (sodium chloride) solutions with CO2 and ammonia. The Solvay technique used to produce sodium carbonate looks like this (washing soda).


The chemical reaction:

NaCl + H2O + CO2 + NH3 -> NH4Cl + NaHCO3


One byproduct of this procedure is sodium hydrogen carbonate. It breaks down into sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide gas when heated to 373 K.

2NaHCO3 -> Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2


Sodium Bicarbonate Formula

The popular term for the substance sodium bicarbonate, also known as sodium hydrogen carbonate, is baking soda.NaHCO3  is Sodium bicarbonate formula. In water, the substance, which is a salt, separates into sodium (Na+) cation and carbonate (CO3) anions. Typically marketed as a powder, baking soda is an alkaline, white, crystalline substance. It tastes a little salty.

Into Sodium Carbonate via Decomposition

Baking soda breaks down into sodium carbonate, washing soda, and water at temperatures over 50 °C (122 °F). At typical baking temperatures, the decomposition moves quite quickly and is temperature-dependent. Dehydration’s response is:


2NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2

The carbonate turns into oxide when temperatures reach greater levels (more than 850 °C or 1560 °F). The response is:


Na2CO3 → Na2O + CO2

Dry powder fire extinguishers based on baking soda employ this reaction. The carbon dioxide aids in putting out the flame.


Properties of Sodium Bicarbonate

  • Its nature is weakly basic. Its alkaline pH is due to the hydrolysis of sodium bicarbonate.     

                                          NaHCO3 + H2O -> H2CO3 + NaOH

H2CO3 -> H2O+CO2

  • The pH of a sodium bicarbonate solution is 8.3.
  • It only partially dissolves in water.
  • It has a melting point of 500 °C and a boiling temperature of 8510 °C.
  • The molecular weight is 84.0066 g/mol, which is the molar mass.
  • With methyl orange, it becomes yellow, whereas phenolphthalein causes no color change.
  • On heating, it decomposes to release carbon dioxide gas and forms sodium carbonate. Baking soda undergoes this reaction when heated during cooking. The products produce baking powder and effervescent drinks.

2NaHCO3 -> Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2

 The structure of Sodium Bicarbonate

  1. NaHCO3 is the sodium bicarbonate formula.
  2. A sodium cation (Na+) and a bicarbonate anion (HCO3-) are present.
  3. It has a monoclinic lattice structure.
  4. One sodium atom, one carbon atom, one hydrogen atom, and three oxygen atoms make up the compound.

Sodium Bicarbonate Uses

Baking soda is a multifunctional chemical. Because of its use and reasonable price, it has become a typical home item. Its numerous applications include:

At Home:

  1. It is an excellent household chemical, primarily used as a cleaning agent, culinary ingredient, and disinfectant.
  2. Foods like chickpeas and yellow peas are frequently cooked faster by adding baking soda.
  3. Old carpets, rugs, cabinets, shoes, refrigerators, and vacuum cleaners can all benefit from its deodorizing properties.
  4. It may eliminate stubborn stains from the floor, clothing, and furniture.
  5. It serves as a water conditioner and softener and removes dirt from clothing when used in washing.

In Battling Fires and Handling Materials:

  1. The white, combustible substance also puts out fires. 
  2. It is the primary component of dry powder fire extinguishers and hand-held multipurpose extinguishers.
  3.  Multipurpose extinguishers put out many kinds of flames in homes, workplaces, and automobiles.
  4. The makers and users of sanders have recently been interested in baking soda. For the preservation or removal of the top layer of many materials, including metal or wood, the loose, whitening sodium bicarbonate is an excellent abrasive.

Athletic Excellence:

Sodium bicarbonate used as an exercise aid has been the subject of research, although some have claimed that it might improve stamina levels, which could improve performance. By helping to buffer any acidic waste products that emerge during extended activity, the powder’s high pH level reduces tiredness in those who are conducting high-intensity activities.

In the Garden:

  1. Sodium bicarbonate is used as a natural insecticide in the garden to eradicate dangerous insects and fungi that harm plants.
  2. You may add it to the soil to raise the pH level and make it more alkaline. Some plants favor soils that are alkaline.
  3. It is also beneficial for cleaning garden tools.

In the Beauty Sector:

  1. The cosmetics sector also makes extensive use of baking soda. Toothpaste, deodorants, face packs, body and face washing foams, and gels include crystalline sodium bicarbonate. 
  2. In addition, it is a highly valued ingredient used in cosmetic powders, effervescent bath bombs, washes, and tablets used to clean braces or dental implants.

 Because sodium bicarbonate has a calming and skin-lightening effect, its uses:

  1. Before receiving treatments at spas or at home to cleanse hands and feet,
  2. The production of creams for the legs and hands, and
  3. Make hair masks to treat dandruff.

        New products for men, women, and kids based on sodium are in the making. Mouthwashes, whitening toothpaste, and rejuvenating lotions all include the inorganic substance.

In Medicine:

  1. It is used as an antacid to treat heartburn and indigestion. By lowering stomach acid, it acts quickly to offer momentary relief. Due to its alkaline composition, it reduces indigestion by neutralizing the excess hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
  2. Doctors use a 5% sodium bicarbonate infusion in medical crises such as severe renal failure, a heart attack, uncontrolled diabetes, and so on.
  3. Cosmetics, personal hygiene items, and items for beauty care are all made using it.
  4. To lessen the negative effects of chemotherapy.
  5. Its antimicrobial characteristics make it ideal for cleansing the mouth and teeth.

Precautions and Warning

1. Breastfeeding and pregnancy: 

During pregnancy, sodium bicarbonate administered intravenously (via IV) or eaten orally is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. It might raise the danger of tissue pH imbalances or water retention. The safety of consuming sodium bicarbonate while breastfeeding is not sufficiently well-established. Avoid usage to be on the safe side.

2. Children: 

When given by IV in babies and children under the proper medical care, sodium bicarbonate is possibly safe. Due to reports of youngsters developing excessive salt blood levels after using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), this substance is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when applied to the skin. When it comes to the security of giving sodium bicarbonate to kids orally, there is not enough trustworthy information available. Avoid usage to be on the safe side.

3.Diabetic ketoacidosis: 

Sodium bicarbonate raises blood acids known as ketones, linked to a diabetic complication characterized by elevated blood acid levels. Avoid sodium bicarbonate if you have this condition.

4. Swelling (edema): 

Because sodium bicarbonate includes salt, it might raise the risk of swelling produced by excess fluids. Use sodium bicarbonate with caution if you have heart failure, liver disease, or other disorders that might lead to fluid retention.

5. High blood calcium levels:

People who have high blood calcium levels may have difficulty excreting bicarbonate. Therefore, taking sodium bicarbonate might make problems like milk-alkali syndrome more likely.

6. Hypertension: 

Sodium bicarbonate may raise blood pressure. The use of sodium bicarbonate should be avoided by those who already have high blood pressure.

7. Low blood potassium levels:

Sodium bicarbonate may reduce blood potassium levels. Avoid sodium bicarbonate if you already have low levels of potassium.

8. Iron deficiency: 

Sodium bicarbonate reduces the amount of iron absorbed by the body. Iron-deficient patients should take sodium bicarbonate and iron supplements separately.


To answer what is sodium bicarbonate in layman’s terms we only need to remember that the other name for sodium bicarbonate is baking soda. It is clear that baking soda is a crucial salt molecule and that it plays a specific role in our homes and daily lives. If permitted, it can be a cheap and easily accessible solution that you can use to combat problems with your dental health, exhaustion when exercising, and household smells.

Frequently Asked Questions on Sodium Bicarbonate

1. How is Sodium Bicarbonate Used as Baking Soda?

Baking soda is a primary ingredient in the creation of baking powder, which is a combination of baking soda and a moderate acid like tartaric acid. When making bread, cakes, etc., this baking powder is the leavening agent (a chemical that is added to batter and dough to cause the dough to release gas and rise and expand). When baking powder and water in cake dough combine, sodium bicarbonate and tartaric acid react to create carbon dioxide gas.

NaHCO3 + H+ (from tartaric acid) -> CO2 + H2O + Sodium tartrate.

The carbon dioxide gas generated aids in the “rising” and sponginess of cakes and breads. Without baking powder, the cake is hard and tiny in size.

2. How do Fire Extinguishers Made of Soda Acid Work?

Baking soda is a component of soda acid fire extinguishers. This extinguisher has two canisters that hold sodium hydrogen carbonate solution and sulfuric acid. The acid reacts with the soda solution, releasing a large amount of carbon dioxide gas on pushing the extinguisher’s knob. Together with the flowing liquid, CO2 gas also emerges. It hits the burning material, blocking the air supply and putting out the flames. In addition to cooling the burning material, the liquid that falls on it assists in lowering the ignition temperature, which extinguishes the fire.

3. Does Sodium Bicarbonate Have a Negative Impact on Human Health?

In general, sodium bicarbonate is not harmful to people. However, if the amount consumed significantly rises, it may pose some problems, such as gastrointestinal discomfort, stomach heaviness, appetite loss, vomiting, etc. Inhalation may also result in coughing and sneezing. Doctors advise their patients to avoid consuming sodium bicarbonate or baking soda, particularly renal patients and women who are pregnant.

Sodium Bicarbonate


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