Sodium bicarbonate is best known by its common name, baking soda. Also called bicarbonate of soda or soda ash, sodium bicarbonate is an alkali that is used in many applications that require an adjustment of pH by reducing the amount of acid present. It is used in cooking, cleaning, and in such personal care products as toothpaste. Baking soda is generally safe, but it contains sodium and should not be ingested in large amounts.
Sodium bicarbonate's formula is CHNaO3. It is composed of one carbon atom, one hydrogen atom, one sodium atom and three oxygen atoms. The carbon atom is at the center of the molecule and is double-bonded to one of the oxygen atoms and single-bonded to the other two oxygen atoms. These oxygen atoms are, in turn, bonded to the hydrogen and sodium atoms situated on opposite sides of the molecule. Sodium bicarbonate is an alkaline and it has a molecular weight of 84.01. Nahcolite, a colorless or white mineral consisting of pure sodium bicarbonate, is mined in areas where lakes have dried up.
Sodium bicarbonate is often taken by mouth as an antacid to treat the symptoms of heartburn and upset stomach. It is available as tablets or, more commonly, as a powder. The powder is usually sold as baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda. Sodium bicarbonate injection is used medicinally to replenish the body's electrolytes, as when severe dehydration has occurred. It is also used to restore pH balance when the body's systems have become too acidic, as in metabolic acidosis, which can happen in response to kidney disease, diabetes and other conditions. Sodium bicarbonate injections are used to treat drug overdoses and poisoning.