The first form of baking soda was invented by French chemist Nicholas Leblanc. Leblanc combined sodium chloride with heated sulfuric acid, creating sodium sulfate. This was then heated with coal and limestone to create baking soda, otherwise known as soda ash.
In the 1800s, Belgian chemical engineer Ernest Solvay created another method to produce baking soda. Solvay heated carbon dioxide and ammonia to produce sodium chloride. The process resulted in sodium bicarbonate, which formed a concentrated version of baking soda. Baking soda is a widely-used baking ingredient, odor absorber and acid neutralizer. The naturally-forming compound can be used as a natural household cleaner as well.