Baking Soda: Salt or Base
Date: March 2006
The textbook says that baking soda is a salt and
that salts are always neutral, but don't we always use baking soda
as a base? I am so confused.
The chemical composition of baking soda is NaHCO3. You can imagine
that this could have been produced by the acid-base reaction of the
base, Na2CO3, with some acid, H+. As such we can consider NaHCO3 a
salt (by the definition that the product of an acid and a base is a
salt). However, since NaHCO3 can still react with another H+ to give
H2CO3, then by the definition that anything that reacts with an acid
must be a base, then NaHCO3 can be considered a base.
In the end, all these definitions are not as important as your
understanding that salts are the product of acid-base reactions, and
that a base (or an acid) is not to be defined by its chemical
composition but rather in how it reacts or what it reacts with.
Greg (Roberto Gregorius)
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Update: June 2012