Soda ash vs Baking soda: The Key Differences and Uses

Soda ash and baking soda are inorganic chemical compounds. The chemical name of soda ash is sodium carbonate with the chemical formula Na2CO3. It is white in color and is an odorless chemical. When dissolved in water, they produce moderately alkaline solutions. However, baking soda is known as sodium bicarbonate with the chemical formula NaHCO3. It is a white crystalline solid but mostly found in the form of fine powder. Baking soda makes a slightly alkaline solution when mixed with water.

These are the main difference between soda ash and baking soda:

Soda Ash Baking Soda
Chemical name of soda ash is sodium carbonate Sodium bicarbonate is the chemical name of baking soda.
Alternatively, it is called washing soda and soda crystals. It is called bicarbonate of soda, bread soda, cooking soda, etc.
Chemical formula of soda ash is Na2CO3
Chemical formula of baking soda is NaHCO3
It is produced by the Solvay process It is prepared with sodium carbonate
Soda ash is highly alkaline in nature Baking soda is less alkaline in nature
The crystal structure of soda ash can be monoclinic and orthorhombic It has only a monoclinic crystal structure
The value of Mohs hardness for soda ash is 1.3 The value of Mohs hardness of baking soda is 2.5
It is used in the production of glass, paper, soap, borax, etc It is used in the production of bakery products

What is soda ash?

Soda ash or sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) is commonly known as washing soda and soda crystals. The origin of the name soda ash gets from its extraction from the ashes of plants that grow in sodium-rich soil. These ashes were different from the ashes of wood due to the presence of sodium. The production of soda ash is different from baking soda. For example, it is produced by the reaction of sodium chloride with limestone.

Soda ash (Na2CO3) is soluble in the water. Like baking soda or sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), soda ash It can be found naturally in arid regions as mineral deposits when water evaporates from the lakes due to the result of seasonal evaporation. For example, it was found in the mineral natron at the bottom of dry lakes in Egypt when ancient people use it for the preparation of mummies.

Uses of Soda ash (Na2CO3)

Soda ash or sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) has industrial and daily life uses like baking soda.

These are the following uses of soda ash:

  • Soda ash is used as a strong base in many fields as compared to baking soda.
  • It is used as a pH regulator in photographic film development.
  • Sodium carbonate or soda ash is used to maintain the pH and carbonate hardness of swimming pools and aquariums.
  • Soda ash can be used as washing soda for cleaning purposes.
  • Hard water contains calcium and magnesium compounds which can be removed by soda ash. Thatswhy, it can be used as to water softening agent.
  • Sodium carbonate is used for the manufacturing of glass, paper, and soup.
  • They are also used for the production of sodium compounds. For example, the preparation of borax.
  • Soda ash can be used as a flux for silica to lower the melting point of a mixture without using a catalyst.
  • It is also used to brown the bakery food.
  • Soda ash is used in the production of sherbet powder.
  • In the food industry, it is mostly used as an acidity regulator, anticaking agent, raising agent, and stabilizer.

What is baking soda?

Like soda ash (Na2CO3), baking soda is basic in nature but less than soda ash. Baking soda, cooking soda, and bicarbonate soda are the alternative names for sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). It is a compound of salt which contain sodium cation (Na+) and bicarbonate anion (HCO3). Naturally, it is found as a component in a mineral called nahcolite. Secondly, it is extracted from the mineral natron.

Baking soda has a variety of uses and identity names in the world. For example, in the United State of America, it is known as baking soda. However, in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland, it is called the bicarbonate of soda. It is also known as Natron in European countries.

Uses of Baking Soda (NaHCO3)

These are the main uses and applications of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate:

  • The major use of baking soda is in cooking. It is used as a leavening agent in baking, it released carbon dioxide when reacting with acid, which in turn gives a foam-like texture to bread and other bakery product.
  • It is used in the production of baking powder which contains about 30% of bicarbonates.
  • Baking soda is also used in the production of black snake fireworks. It is an experiment, in which carbon dioxide is produced and released in the form of a snake-like structure with the combustion of sugar. Baking soda is used in this experiment to delay the reaction.
  • It can be used as a weak disinfectant that can kill fungus.
  • Baking soda is alternatively used as compared to monoammonium phosphate in dry chemical fire extinguishers.
  • Sodium bicarbonate can be used as an acid neutralizer.
  • Baking soda has many medical uses. For example, it is used to treat indigestion, heartburn, hyperkalemia, etc.
  • It is used as a cleaning agent. For example, it is used to remove paint and corrosion from doors.
  • Baking soda is used to remove food odor. Thatswhy it is kept in the refrigerator with foods and vegetables.
  • Due to its antiseptic properties, it is used as an antiseptic agent.

Key takeaways

soda ash vs baking soda: difference between soda ash and baking soda

Concepts Berg

What Is soda ash used for in daily life?

These are the daily life use of soda ash:

  • Cleaning purposes
  • Odor remover
  • Neutralization of acidic products
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Disinfectant agent
  • Antiseptic agent
  • Browning of bakery products, etc

Is soda ash toxic?

It is not toxic but it is basic in nature.

Why use soda ash in a pool?

Due to its antiseptic and disinfectant properties, soda ash is used in swimming pools for killing fungus and germs. It is also a good cleaning agent for swimming pool walls. It is also used in the swimming pool to soften the water and removed the dissolved calcium and magnesium compounds.

What is a “balanced” pool?

A balanced pool is a swimming pool whose pH is maintained between 7 to 7.4. It means, its water is neither alkaline nor acidic. It is better to swim in such kind of pool.

Why use baking soda in a pool?

It is used in swimming pools to clean water from germs. It is also used to remove corrosion.

Can I use vinegar instead of soda ash?

Both are different. Vinegar is slightly acidic while soda ash is basic in nature. So it depends on its usage.

Is borax the same as soda ash?

Borax is sodium tetraborate while soda ash is sodium carbonate. Both are different but used for cleaning purposes.

Can you use baking soda instead of soda ash?

It depends, if we use it for baking purposes then soda ash only gives a brown color to the baking product. If we want to foam texture of the bakery product then we have to use only baking soda.

Is cooking soda the same as baking soda?

Yes, they are the same. Cooking soda is an alternative name for baking soda.

What is the difference between sodium sulfate and soda ash?

The chemical formula of sodium sulfate is Na2SO4 while the chemical formula of soda ash is Na2CO3.


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