You will often see ‘baking soda’ or ‘baking powder’ recommended for use in cleaning, as well as….you guessed it, baking. But what’s the difference between it and bicarbonate of soda (aka Sodium Bicarbonate, or ‘bicarb’ for short)?
The waters are muddied because American websites use the two almost interchangeably and many UK sites/people use the same terminology. As far as the UK goes, the difference is that Baking Powder is Bicarbonate of Soda PLUS cream of tartar which acts as a raising agent in baking. But bicarbonate of soda can also be used in baking; it still acts as a raising agent IF the recipe has an acidic ingredient (eg lemon) Once the two meet in a mix with moisture, the two react giving off bubbles. In the UK, you may well see Arm & Hammer Baking Soda on shelves – that is what we’d refer to as Bicarbonate of Soda.
We are often asked whether our bicarbonate of soda can be used for baking. Our version is exactly the same product that is used in the (more expensive) pots that you find in the baking aisle, but it has not been packed on a ‘food safe’ line. That means that it’s packed on a line that may also be packing citric acid or borax substitute, so we can’t officially recommend it for culinary purposes. Many people use it to make elderflower cordial and other drinks.
What it does mean though, is that there’s no point paying for the expensive cooking bicarb when you’re using it for cleaning & laundry purposes; you get 500g in each box!