Baking soda is the chemical sodium bicarbonate. If moisture and an acid are present, soda releases carbon dioxide gas, which leavens the product.
Heat is not necessary for the reaction (although the gas is released faster at higher temperatures). For this reason, products leavened with soda must be baked at once, or the gases will escape and leavening power will be lost.
Acids that react with soda in a batter include honey, molasses, buttermilk, fruits, cocoa, and chocolate. Sometimes cream of tartar is used for the acid.The amount of soda used in a formula is generally the amount needed to balance the acid. If more leavening power is needed, baking powder, not more soda, is used.
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