Have you ever found yourself puzzling over the name of a common kitchen ingredient? Perhaps you’ve been reading international blogs and came across the term “baking soda.” Or maybe you’re new to the UK and know what baking soda is, but don’t know what the stuff is called here.
Long story short, baking soda in the UK is called bicarbonate of sodium. Some folks may also call it sodium bicarbonate or, shortened, bicarb.
All these names are interchangeable, but they should not be confused with baking powder. While both can be used in the kitchen, only the former can be employed for other purposes.
What Is Baking Soda Most Commonly Called In The UK?
It is difficult to tell what baking soda is most commonly called in the UK. The actual term can vary from region to region, but the most correct term is bicarbonate of soda.
This is the scientific name of the powder, derived from its components.
The white powder is made up of two major components, bicarbonate and sodium.
The bicarbonate term refers to the specific chemical ion that is present in sodium bicarbonate. The bicarbonate ion, represented as HCO3-, plays a crucial role in the compound’s ability to act as a leavening agent in baking and in its effectiveness in various household applications.
Sodium is an alkali metal that forms part of the compound. It is represented by the symbol Na in the periodic table and gives sodium bicarbonate its alkaline properties, allowing it to neutralise acids and create carbon dioxide gas, which helps dough rise when baking.
While the chemical name of the compound is bicarbonate of soda, it is also correct to call it sodium bicarbonate. Most people in the UK also know it by the nickname bicarb.
Is Baking Soda The Same As Baking Powder?
Whether you’re a Brit trying to figure out what baking soda is or an expat looking for the right product in the supermarket aisle, know that baking soda is not the same as baking powder.
As explained, baking soda is bicarbonate of sodium. Baking powder may or may not contain baking soda in addition to other agents.
Bicarbonate of Sodium vs. Baking Powder
The main difference between bicarbonate of sodium – aka, baking soda – and baking powder is that the former is a single chemical compound (NaHCO3) while the latter is a combination of dry ingredients.
Commonly, one of the primary ingredients in baking powder is the bicarbonate of sodium. In addition to it, baking powder also contains an acidic agent, such as monocalcium phosphate, and cornstarch or another type of starch filler.
These ingredients react when exposed to moisture and heat, creating a leavening reaction.
Due to the additional ingredients, baking powder is only used in baking, typically in recipes that lack an acidic ingredient. Baking soda or bicarbonate of sodium can be used for baking, usually in recipes that have an acidic ingredient, but it can also be used for a variety of other purposes.
5 Common Uses Of Bicarbonate Of Sodium
Now that you know what baking soda is called in the UK, you might wonder what you can do with it around the house.
Here are some of the most common uses.
Baking aside, bicarbonate of sodium is mostly used in cleaning. You can employ it for a variety of tasks, including, stain removal and surface cleaning.
A thick paste made of sodium bicarbonate and water can help you remove stubborn stains from countertops, sinks, and appliances. The abrasive action can also help you get rid of grime and grease deposits.
You can also use bicarb to clean the washing machine or dishwasher. Sprinkle the powder inside the appliance, scrub with a wet sponge or brush, and run an empty cycle. Other appliances can also be effectively cleaned with bicarb.
In laundry, sodium bicarbonate can be your ally in treating stains on fabrics without damaging the colours.
The substance is particularly useful for dealing with grease or oil stains. Sprinkle the powder over the stain and rub it in with a dry sponge. Switch to a wet sponge and gently clean the spot, then rinse with clean water.
Another use is as a detergent booster. When used together with laundry soap, bicarb can enhance the detergent’s cleaning power, neutralise odours, and soften the fabric.
3. Pipe Maintenance
Bicarbonate of sodium is an alkaline substance. When combined with an acidic compound, it creates a thermogenic reaction. This reaction can help with pipe maintenance, especially if you’re dealing with clogged pipes.
Pouring bicarb and vinegar down the drain can dislodge clogs whilst dissolving grease deposits. Sodium bicarbonate can also deodorise the pipes, helping you get rid of foul odours.
As mentioned, sodium bicarbonate has deodorising properties. You can use it to remove bad smells from your fridge, as a dishwasher freshener, mattress deodoriser, etc.
The substance can also remove bad odours from rubbish bins. Simply sprinkle some sodium bicarbonate on the bottom of the bin to neutralise offensive smells.
You can also sprinkle baking soda inside shoes, at the bottom of the litter box, or on the carpets before vacuuming.
5. Gardening Aid
Beyond the household, the bicarbonate of sodium is also a natural weed killer and could act as a pest deterrent.
To get rid of crawly pests, sprinkle sodium bicarbonate on the ground, ten to 15 centimetres away from the roots of your plants. To remove weeds, pour the powder directly onto the offensive plants.
Baking soda is called bicarbonate of sodium, or sodium bicarbonate, in the UK. It is also referred to as simply bicarb. However, it is not the same as baking powder, which is a leavening agent.
The powdery substance has many uses around the house. From a baking agent in the kitchen to cleaning, gardening, and plumbing maintenance, this alkaline compound should have a place in all households.