Today I’m featuring my first installment of Ask Food n’ Focus. This is a new feature that I launched a couple of weeks ago where I am answering your burning questions relating to food and cooking. I had a large number of readers ask about the difference between baking soda and baking powder so today I’m going to explain both ingredients to you. While these two compounds look similar they are definitely not interchangeable.

Both of these substances are leavening agents and help baked goods rise. Technically speaking there is a chemical reaction that takes place that causes the release of carbon dioxide gas which forms tiny bubbles in the batter or dough.

Now the differences starting with baking soda. Baking soda is an alkaline which needs an acid to activate. Once you add in the acid, such as vinegar, bubbles will begin to form. Do you remember making those volcanoes in grade school? On the other hand, baking powder is about 1/3 baking soda and already has the acidic element in the mix. Baking powder simply needs water to be activated.

So again, why can’t you interchange them? Because the baking powder only includes about 1/3 of the amount of baking soda, so essentially you would be shorting your dough of the leavening agent. And I know what you’re thinking….why not just triple the amount of baking powder in place of baking soda? You wouldn’t want to do this because it would also ad extra acid into your dough which would probably make it rise but also fall back down pretty quickly. I wouldn’t advise doing this.

One last thing to note is that leavening agents such as these will lose their potency pretty quickly so you’ll want to replace them every 6 months.

So there you have it. If you have a kitchen question that needs an answer or if you’re looking for a recipe suggestion, feel free to leave it in the comments below and it could be featured on next week’s edition of Ask Food n’ Focus!

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder