Sodium bicarbonate: Discovery, Production, Uses
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Sodium bicarbonate: Discovery, Production, Uses

Sodium bicarbonate is a salt with composition of sodium and bicarbonate ions. It is a chemical element with formula NaHCO3. Its IUPAC name is Sodium hydrogen carbonate and its other name is baking soda, bicarb or bicarbonate of soda. It has boiling point of 851 degree Celsius and melting point of 50 degree Celsius.


Sodium bicarbonate has a well-off history, stretching thousands of years ago.

French chemist, Nicolas Leblanc made sodium carbonate, in 1791 which was also known as soda ash.

In late 18th century, sodium bicarbonate was discovered as a leavening agent by bakers John Dwight and Austin Church, in New York. The first factory was established by these bakers in US for producing baking soda out of carbon dioxide and sodium carbonate.

Currently, it is found among the list of essential medicines published by World Health Organisation.


Solvay Process

Sodium bicarbonate is mainly produced by Solvay process. Solvay process is sodium chloride, ammonia and carbon dioxide reaction in water.

Sodium bicarbonate can be prepared by carbon dioxide reaction with sodium hydroxide aqueous solution. This reaction initially produces sodium carbonate.

Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O → 2 NaHCO3

Then, adding carbon dioxide to this reaction produces sodium bicarbonate.

Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O → 2 NaHCO3


Sodium bicarbonate is naturally found in deposits of Eocene-age Green River Formation in Colorado, Piceance Basin. During high evaporation periods in the basin sodium bicarbonate was deposited as beds. It is mined using mining techniques like bore, drum etc.

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