Q:

What is NaHCO3?

A:

NaHCO3 is the chemical formula for sodium bicarbonate. It is also commonly known as baking soda or bicarbonate of soda. Although sodium bicarbonate is a crystalline compound, it typically appears as a powder in its dry form.

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Sodium bicarbonate has a slightly alkaline and salty taste. The use of baking soda dates as far back as ancient Egypt where it was applied as a cleansing agent sourced from natural deposits of natron. Commercial sodium bicarbonate is produced using the Solvay process, which involves a reaction of sodium chloride, carbon dioxide and ammonia.

Although it is odorless, sodium bicarbonate produces acrid fumes when heated to the point of decomposition at 270 degrees Fahrenheit. It is fairly stable in dry air but decomposes when exposed to wet air. NaHCO3 is generally a safe food additive when it is used in line with good feeding or manufacturing practices. It also offers many practical uses beyond baking. Used correctly, it can be applied as:

  • Treatment for itchy bug bites
  • Treatment for hypokalemia
  • Dry shampoo
  • Mouthwash to neutralize odors
  • An antacid for relieving heartburn or indigestion
  • Bath or foot soak
  • Cleaner for the microwave
  • Polisher for silver hardware
  • Cleaner for batteries
  • Cleaning grime
  • Biopesticide for controlling fungus growth
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Deodorant for trash cans, drains and garbage disposals
  • Scrub for fruits and vegetables
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