Difference Between Sodium Carbonate and Sodium Bicarbonate

Sodium is one of the most used elements for making a number of different household and industrial chemicals. Salts of sodium are used for numerous purposes, for instance, sodium chloride is used as table salt to add taste to food. Similarly, nitrates, carbonates, sulphates and phosphate salts of sodium are part of many vital industrial and manufacturing processes. Sodium carbonate is one of such widely used salt of sodium. However, you should differentiate it from sodium bicarbonate, which is another salt of sodium but has entirely different uses and properties. Since these salts are also used in food stuff, you have to be very clear about the difference between the salts of sodium and their desired purpose of use.

Sodium carbonate is actually a sodium salt of carbonic acid and is mostly found in crystalline form. It is commonly known as washing soda or soda ash and has the chemical formula Na2CO3. Sodium carbonate can be naturally extracted from the ashes of many plants and synthetically made from sodium chloride and limestone. It is considered to be an excellent water softener.

Sodium bicarbonate (chemical formula NaHCO3) is commonly known as baking soda or bread soda. It is also a crystalline solid but is also available in powdered form in the market. It is synthetically produced by adding more carbon dioxide to sodium carbonate under specific temperature and pressure. Sodium bicarbonate is widely used for cooking purposes, especially making breads and dough.


  • 1

    Sodium Carbonate

    Sodium carbonate is an ionic compound and readily dissolves in water to produce positive sodium ions and negative carbonate ions. It has very strong alkaline properties and has no harmful effects on human skin. It is also harmless if ingested in low concentrations. Sodium carbonate serves as the feedstock for glass manufacturing industry. Almost half of the all sodium carbonate is used in the process of making glass, while chemical processing and soap manufacturing industries are the other big users of this salt of sodium. Its natural deposits are found in USA, Botswana, China, Uganda, Kenya, Peru, Mexico, India, South Africa, Egypt and Turkey.

    Image Courtesy: goldentable.wordpress.com

  • 2

    Sodium Bicarbonate

    It is also an ionic compound and quickly dissolves in water to form positive sodium ions, negative carbonate ions and positive hydrogen ions as well. Sodium bicarbonate is white crystalline in appearance but its powdered form is also available in the market. It is widely used for baking purposes, for diminishing odours, for cleaning purposes and as a fire extinguisher as well. It is alkaline in nature and is used to reduce acidity in your stomach.

    Image Courtesy: mycotopia.net

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 × four =