What is bicarbonate of soda made from?

Updated July 19, 2017

Bicarbonate of soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a chemical compound commonly known as baking soda. The latter name refers to its popular use as an ingredient in bread dough. Its chemical formula is NaHCO3.

Chemical Formula

Each molecule of sodium bicarbonate contains one sodium atom (Na), one hydrogen atom (H), and a carbonate ion (one carbon atom bonded to three oxygen atoms).


Sodium bicarbonate can form naturally. However, most baking soda sold commercially is created by combining carbon dioxide with soda ash.

What is Carbon Dioxide?

Carbon dioxide is an odourless gas produced from a number of natural processes, including animal respiration (breathing) and decomposition (rotting).

What is Soda Ash?

Soda ash, or sodium carbonate, frequently appears as a white powder. It can be extracted from several sources, including a mineral called trona and the ashes of certain plants.

Making Sodium Bicarbonate

Arm & Hammer states that its brand of baking soda is created by dissolving soda ash (from trona) in a liquid (possibly water). Carbon dioxide gas is then "bubbled" into the mixture, causing sodium bicarbonate to form. The sodium bicarbonate quickly solidifies and separates from the rest of the mixture.

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