How are washing soda and bicarbonate of soda different?

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Faith

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Faith asked the Naked Scientists:

What is the difference between washing soda and bicarbonate of soda.
What are the dangerous household chemicals?


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Offline chris

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How are washing soda and bicarbonate of soda different?
« Reply #1 on: 25/05/2008 14:10:41 »
Washing soda is sodium carbonate - Na2CO3, bicarbonate of soda is sodium hydrogen carbonate - HaHCO3.

They are both alkaline when they dissolve, and both will give off carbon dioxide when heated, but sodium bicarbonate will break down more readily because it is less stable, and this is why it is used in cooking, because the heat of the oven causes the bicarbonate to decompose and release carbon dioxide gas. This inflates your cakes and makes them rise.

There is some more about sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate in our kitchen science about crystals:

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/kitchenscience/exp/crystals-on-a-piece-of-wool/

Chris

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