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Sodium hydrogen carbonate (commonly referred to as sodium bicarbonate or baking soda) is a chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. Sodium bicarbonate is an ionic salt which consists of the sodium cation (denoted by Na+) and the bicarbonate anion (denoted by HCO3). At room temperature, sodium hydrogen carbonate has a white, powdery appearance and is characterized by its alkaline taste (similar to that of sodium carbonate). Some important properties and uses of sodium hydrogen carbonate are listed in this article.

Physical and Chemical Properties of Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate

The molar mass of sodium bicarbonate corresponds to 84.0066 grams per mole. This compound has no distinct odour. The density of NaHCO3 corresponds to 2.20 grams per cubic centimetre. Sodium hydrogen carbonate does not have any distinct melting point or boiling point. This is because it begins to decompose into sodium carbonate when the temperature exceeds 50oC.
Sodium hydrogen carbonate is highly soluble in water. The solubility of NaHCO3 (in water) at some specific temperatures can be found below.

  • At a temperature of 0oC, the solubility of sodium hydrogen carbonate in water is 69 grams per litre.
  • At a temperature of 20oC, the solubility of sodium hydrogen carbonate in water is 96 grams per litre.
  • At a temperature of 60oC, the solubility of sodium hydrogen carbonate in water is 165 grams per litre.

Sodium hydrogen carbonate is also somewhat soluble in ethanol. It is not soluble in methanol. Sodium bicarbonate can act as a reducing agent but is a very poor oxidizing agent.

Uses of Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate

Sodium hydrogen carbonate is widely used as a leavening agent in cooking and baking activities. It is an important component of baking powder (which is also used as a leavening agent). When used in the cooking of green vegetables, sodium bicarbonate imparts a bright green to the food by reacting with the chlorophyll in the leaves.

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