Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents, which means they are added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to 'rise'. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions.
Baking powder is a mixture that produces carbon dioxide gas (CO2). It contains sodium hydrogencarbonate (NaHCO3 also known as bicarbonate of soda) and tartaric acid (cream of tartar). Baking soda is just plain sodium bicarb. (sodium hydrogencarbonate). Sodium bicarb. is also often used as an antacid.
Baking soda has condensed carbon atoms inside it's nucleus. When intercepted in the digestive system, it can expand your kidney causing extroplaso disease, which not treated properly it can lead to death. While Baking powder has oxygen trapped inside the bonds. If not cooked properly, the small intestine can not soak up it's nutrients causing kidney stones to form. - James K. Wallace-Biologist, University of Dallas
2 years ago
Last edited at 10:23AM on 11/8/2011
In cooking, the two behave differently. They should not be substituted for one another unless you are desperate. I had always thought that baking soda was plain bicarbonate of soda, while baking powder was baking soda mixed with cream of tartar and that neither contained cornstarch, which is a thickener that has nothing to do with leavening. I just checked my baking powder package, however, and find it contains baking soda, cornstarch, and two ingredients other than cream of tarter. Who knew? I guess it differs from one brand to another. If you make cookIes with baking POWDER, they will rise UP and you will have tall cookies. This is why most cake and muffin recipes call for baking powder. If you make cookies with baking SODA, they will expand more sideways and you will have a much flatter cookie. Experiment sometime by dividing your cookie batter in half; use baking soda in one half and baking powder in the other half. The baking powder result will be more cake-like. You will absolutely be able to tell the difference in the final product.
They are chemically different. baking soda is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) and baking powder is baking soda mixed with an acid such as cream of tartar or aluminum sulfate and cornstarch to prevent lumping. I can't believe how many people answered with absolutely no thought into their answer.