Sodium Bicarbonate

What is Sodium Bicarbonate?

Sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda, is a soluble white solid that often appears as a fine powder. It is odourless, non-combustible and slightly salty in taste. 

What is Sodium Bicarbonate used for?

Sodium bicarbonate has a variety of uses; from domestic to commercial.

Domestically, its uses include; baking, cleaning and treating minor medical ailments.

In baking, sodium bicarbonate is used as a leavening/raising agent (a substance that causes gas bubbles to form to lighten and soften the mixture).  

You also will also have heard of sodium bicarbonate as being a common ingredient in DIY home cleaning products due to its effective and natural properties.

Commercially, sodium bicarbonate is used to extinguish small grease and electrical fires by throwing it directly over the fire. It is also a very effective biopesticide (a pesticide based on natural products) at controlling fungal growth.

Sodium bicarbonate is very commonly used in homemade cleaning products
Sodium bicarbonate is very commonly used in homemade cleaning products

Sodium Bicarbonate Hazards

Sodium bicarbonate is generally a very safe chemical, however exposure to large quantities may result in some adverse health effects. They include:

  • Inhalation
    • Coughing and sneezing
  • Ingestion 
    • Gastrointestinal irritation if ingested
  • Eye Contact
    • Mild irritation such as redness 
  • Skin Contact
    • Irritation to damaged skin (when combined with a liquid)

Sodium Bicarbonate Safety

If sodium bicarbonate has been inhaled by a person, remove them from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source and monitor their breathing. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.

If sodium bicarbonate is swallowed, drink plenty of water and seek medical attention if discomfort persists.

In the event of exposure to skin; cleanse the affected area with plenty of water. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.

If eye exposure occurs, remove any contact lenses and flush the eye with running water, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.

Monitor yourself and others for symptoms

Sodium Bicarbonate Safety Handling

Adequate ventilation should be available when handling sodium bicarbonate and local exhaust ventilation should be installed if required. 

Safety showers and emergency eyewash fountains should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical.

The recommended PPE for handling sodium bicarbonate includes:

  • Safety goggles
  • Respirator/Dust mask
  • Protective clothing
  • Gloves