Where does baking soda come from?

Have you had your rocks today?

Blackberry Cinnamon Muffins

Blackberry Cinnamon Muffins

Did you think you were eating rocks? If you were eating any baked goods made with baking soda you were eating something that is mined from the earth. Baking soda is used in muffins, scones, cakes, cookies, pancakes and more. It is a common leavening agent and one of the ingredients in baking powder, too. Have you ever wondered where it came from?  I did so I did a web search and this is some of what I found out.

We start our story with trona, a rock that is mined and then processed into all kinds of handy things. Trona is used to make something called soda ash (sodium carbonate). Soda ash is used to make glass, fiberglass, detergents, toothpaste and yes, baking soda.

Wyoming has the largest trona mine in the world.

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is made by adding CO2 to soda ash (sodium carbonate).

5,000 years ago, the Egyptians used soda ash for glass ornaments and vessels. They found the sodium bearing mineral in dry lake bed deposits, or burned seaweed that produced ashes that contained soda ash (thus the name ash).

 In the 1st century, the Romans used soda ash for bread, glass, and medicine.

Detergents· Soaps, detergents, and cleaning compounds- soda ash is used as a builder to emulsify oil stains, to decrease the redeposition of dirt during washing and rinsing, to provide alkalinity for cleaning, and to soften laundry water. Liquid detergents do not contain soda ash.

In areas of Africa, Trona (called kanwa) is an important domestic culinary additive, used for softening, tenderizing, and flavoring foods in addition to being a food preservative.

Water treatment – soda ash can be added to adjust the pH of the water and reduce the acidity. It can also be used as a precipitant with lime or alum to reduce various contaminants from the water.

Swimming pool products, medicines, paper, textiles, and toothpaste all use soda ash.

So this concludes our little food science lesson for today. I hope you enjoyed learning about baking soda as much as I did.

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