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Every pantry has some baking soda and baking powder on hand. While we all have baking soda and baking powder in our homes, there are not many of us who can actually tell you the difference between the two of them. This is understandable. For many of us, they are considered to be interchangeable, but they’re not. Since we are using them in our daily baking, it is time to learn more about the nuances.

Baking soda is used in baking to create a certain reaction. When you are using baking soda to create desserts, this reaction is known as a rise. You may not have known this but baking soda is a basic. This means that it is the opposite of acidic. When the baking soda is mixed with other acidic substances, this is when the rise starts to take place.

Photo: flickr/Deb Nystrom

Some recipes will call for the mixing of baking soda with brown sugar or buttermilk. There are other acidic solutions that can come into play as well. Once you see the bubbling reaction that you are accustomed to, carbon dioxide is created. From there, the rise that gives your desserts the fluffy quality that you know and love is also created. Sounds simple enough, right?

Baking soda also works as a deodorizer. All you need to do is sprinkle it over the items that you wish to fix. That’s why many of us keep an open box in the fridge. As for baking powder, there are people who assume that it is interchangeable with baking soda because it contains baking soda. But, those people would be wrong.

Photo: Pixabay/evita-ochel

If you decide to use baking powder instead of baking soda, your desserts are going to end up tasting pretty funky. Baking powder offers the acidity that you need to create a rising effect but that does not mean that it can be used in the same way. Follow the recipes you are using as closely as possible so that you are able to achieve the results you desire.

In a pinch, you can use baking powder as a replacement but it will take two to three times the usual amount to achieve the same effect. You’ll also want to pay close attention to the expiration date on both of these items. As long as they are being stored in a cool, dark place, baking soda and baking powder should be able to last at least a few months. Enjoy your baking!