Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is one of the most popular ingredients in the home. It has many uses, from cooking to cleaning and deodorizing, and even for medical purposes. But baking soda also has a distinct odor-ammonia-like. So why does baking soda smell like ammonia?

To understand why baking soda has an ammonia-like odor, it is important to understand what makes up baking soda and how it is used in different applications: baking soda is an alkaline, meaning that it has a high pH level; when combined with acid ingredients such as vinegar or lemon juice, it starts to effervesce or “fizz” as carbon dioxide gas forms. This reaction creates an ammonia-like smell as the gas quickly evaporates. Additionally, dampness associated with food preparations can also play a part in producing this odor from baking soda.

What is Baking Soda?

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a common household product that everyone uses in cooking and cleaning. It’s an absorbent powder that absorbs odors and can be used as a cleaning agent, deodorizer and as a mild antiseptic. It has a slightly alkaline, salty taste and is often used as a leavening agent in baking.

But why does baking soda smell like ammonia? Let’s take a closer look.


Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is an alkaline chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. It is a white solid that shows little to no smell. Its primary use is as a leavening agent in baking, and it can also be used as an acid-base indicator, dietary supplement and cleaning product.

Baking soda is naturally composed of elements like sodium, hydrogen and carbon. When dissolved in water, the substance breaks down into positively-charged particles called cations (sodium ions) and negatively-charged particles known as anions (bicarbonate ions). The ability of this compound to both accept and donate electrons means it can act as a base or an acid depending on its environment.

As a base, baking soda acts as an alkalizing agent when mixed with acids like vinegar or citrus juices that have been added to recipes for flavor or tenderizing meats. It releases carbon dioxide gas when heated which causes the mixture to quickly expand creating rise in baked goods. As an acid it can be used to balance pH levels or neutralize odors such as ammonia due to its mild acidic characteristics which gives off a mild vinegary odor when mixed with other liquids besides water.

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Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a powerful yet gentle cleanser commonly found in kitchen cupboards. Its wide range of uses makes it an essential in good home cleaning practices.

Baking soda is a remarkable absorption agent and can be used for cleaning surfaces such as countertops and tiles. It deodorizes by neutralizing odor-causing particles and eliminating them from the air, rather than simply masking smells with artificial scents. It also works well for brushing teeth due to its ability to gently scrub away bacteria without causing injury or irritation to sensitive oral tissues.

This naturally produced product is safe for many types of materials and its mild alkalinity safely cleanses dishes, silverware, floors and other areas with minimal scrubbing effort. Baking soda can also help maintain freshness by absorbing odors inside refrigerators, freezers and other enclosed spaces. Additionally, it can be used to clean drains by removing blockages and inhibiting the growth of bacteria that may cause odors as water arrives through the pipes. For added safety precaution against injury, baking soda can be applied around bases of ladders or stepladders while in use which will cushion against any sharp falls or slips that may occur.

What is Ammonia?

Ammonia is a colorless gas with a very distinct and strong smell. It is commonly used in many household and industrial products, including cleaning solutions and fertilizers. When baking soda is mixed with an acid like vinegar, the reaction produces carbon dioxide and ammonia. This is what gives baking soda its characteristic smell.

While this reaction is harmless, it can still be a bit overwhelming when you experience it. Let’s take a closer look at what ammonia is and why it has this smell.


Ammonia is a colorless, highly irritating gas with a characteristic pungent smell. It is composed of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms, which molecule is commonly written as NH3. Ammonia is highly soluble in water and forms ammonium ions (NH4+) when dissolved. It also readily accepts protons from acids to form ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH), which gives it its characteristic odor. It has a boiling point of -325°F (-192°C) and a melting point of -112°F (-80°C).

Ammonia is found in thousands of products and plays an important role in the chemical industry, most notably as a precursor to fertilizers. Its production involves the reacting of natural gas with steam under high temperatures and pressures known as the Haber Process.

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Ammonia is a colorless gas that has a distinct odor, and it can be found in many common household items, including windex, leather cleaner, and certain toilet bowl cleaners. It is also a key ingredient in many fertilizers and industrial cleaning products. Ammonia has many uses, both commercially and industrially.

One of the most popular uses for ammonia is as an agricultural fertilizer; farmers use ammonia-based fertilizers to boost the growth of their plants by adding nitrogen-rich nutrients to the soil. Another major use for ammonia is in refrigeration systems; when combined with other elements (most commonly fluorine), it is used to create coolant chemicals like hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Industrial applications include wastewater treatment, manufacturing processes such as paper production, synthetics production like rayon plants, tailings management for coal and other material extraction industries, petroleum refining processes to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs), etc. Additionally, it has found use as a leavening agent in some baking recipes – this is what causes the smell of baking soda when smelling freshly cooked goods!

To control dangerous levels of ammonia in household products or industrial processes, various detection devices are available that monitor and measure concentrations of gas specimens.

What is the Chemical Reaction?

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a common ingredient in many households, usually found in the kitchen cupboard. It’s an odorless and tasteless white powder. However, when combined with an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, baking soda reacts with a chemical reaction that releases the scent of ammonia.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what causes this reaction and the components involved.

Baking Soda and Water

The smell of baking soda comes from a reaction that takes place when baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water are combined. As the sodium bicarbonate reacts with the water, carbon dioxide gas is produced, creating bubbles in the mixture and releasing a strong ammonia odor. The bubbles also give baking soda its abrasive texture, which can be used for cleaning.

In addition to forming bubbles and producing an aroma, baking soda can be used as a leavening agent in baked goods due to the carbon dioxide gas it produces during this reaction.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

The reaction between baking soda and vinegar is an acid-base reaction, according to the Joy of Baking website. When baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) comes into contact with the acid in vinegar (acetic acid), a chemical reaction is triggered that releases carbon dioxide gas (CO2). This is what causes the famous bubbling and foaming when these two substances are combined.

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This gas being released is actually ammonium bicarbonate, which breaks down into ammonia and water vapor as it escapes; this combination of ingredients gives off the unpleasant odor. The resulting solution contains trace vapor levels of ammonia, which can be identified by its strong pungent smell.

Baking Soda and Ammonia

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is an alkali compound that reacts with acids to release carbon dioxide gas. This reaction can be smelled in the form of a distinctive odor of ammonia, as heat produces nitrogen-containing compounds like monoammonium carbonate.

When baking soda and an acid react to form carbon dioxide, the product of the reaction is formed in a liquid solution. The amount of this solution that is released depends upon the ratio between baking soda and acid.

The neutralization reactions between baking soda and acids involve both proton transfer and electron transfer reactions, forming new molecules each time they are composed and decomposed. When there are dynamic equilibrium changes in liquid solutions caused by proton transfer reactions between acid molecules, it can produce certain acidic products including monoammonium carbonate which gives off a strong odor similar to ammonia when heated. This process occurs when baking soda is exposed to heat during warm-water dough-making processes like baking or cooking.

Additionally, if you mix baking soda with bleach then the resulting solution could potentially give off an ammonia-like smell that could be mistaken for actual ammonia. The bleach in this case would react with a free hydrogen ion from another compound during the same reaction as discussed earlier while producing other compounds like sodium hypochlorite which carries a pungent aroma that resembles ammonia when diffused into air through evaporation.


In conclusion, baking soda’s smell is due to the presence of sodium bicarbonate and the natural evaporation of ammonia-like molecules. The smell is harmless, but some people find it unappealing. It can be eliminated by using cold water when mixing baking soda and adding an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice for better results.

If a person is particularly sensitive to the smell, they should try to avoid baking soda in their recipes whenever possible.

By Reiki

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