Both baking soda and baking powder are chemical leaveners. They rely on chemical reactions to produce the gases that provide shape (rise) and texture to your baked goods.
Baking soda is the chemical, sodium bicarbonate. Baking soda needs both acid and moisture to release carbon dioxide gas.
Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and a dry acid. Baking powder needs moisture (a liquid) to start the reaction.
Examples of the acids used in most batters include: fruit, chocolate or cocoa, honey, buttermilk, molasses
Types of Baking Powder
- Single-acting – starts the reaction as soon as it is mixed with a liquid
- Double-acting – starts the reaction with moisture but needs heat to complete it
Double-acting baking powder is used in home baking and what you will find in the grocery store. Single-acting is used more often in commercial bakeries and restaurants.
When to use Baking Powder or Baking Soda?
Baking soda and/or baking powder can be used in any baked good depending on how much acid is being used. Baking soda is common in products using more acid and is used to balance the acid in the product. Because baking powder contains a dry acid, it is considered more versatile and only needs moisture and heat to create the needed chemical reaction.