Monday, September 19, 2011

Baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, nahcolite, sodium bicarbonate, sodium same thing

Welcome to another year of my fantastically amazing blog posts...

Today I will blow you away with beautiful explanations of both physical and chemical properties of baking soda.


OK, so, baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, nahcolite, sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogencarbonate... blah blah blah blah blah. It's all the same thing.
I knew that this substance reacts with a couple things, but once I read the long names I knew I had to try.
And, with these intriguing names comes quite a bit of intriguing information. Today, I'll just zone in on just the physical and chemical properties of baking soda.

Physical Properties: ...a characteristic that can be observed or measured without changing the identity of the substance 

Color- Easiest physical property to find, of course. All I had to do was look at it. Its a very interesting, blend of colors that not many people know of: white. Just plain and simple white. Baking soda doesn't have any variety of color anywhere, just white. 

It is the same color as this beautiful horse in the fields!

Taste- HORRIBLE. Taste, like color, is obviously a physical property because it doesn't change the identity of the substance, but it does require actually putting the substance into your mouth. I tasted it, and before I ran to the mouth wash and sink, I got to enjoy a nasty, powdery, salty taste in my mouth. Truly delicious. 
I made this face after tasting it.

Texture- Definitely a physical property; all I had to do was touch it, nothing else was changed. The way baking soda feels is very powdery with a couple chunks in it, but mainly just a powdery substances. If you hold it in your hand and blow into it, it will just blow away like dust. Very light and once again, powdery. 
Mmmmm, powdery.
Odor- Odor is given off by the substance, so therefore in order to see this property I don't have to change the substance, and therefore it is another physical property. There is no odor to baking soda. Using a wafting motion (SAFETY FIRST!) I didn't smell a thing. Then I got my nose really close that it left a nice white mark on the tip of it, but still I didn't smell a thing. Therefore, there is no odor (that is detectable by my nose). 
Take a look at this beautiful nose, simply beautiful.

Solubility- Most believe there are only chemical and physical properties, and they can not be shared, but when it comes to water and baking soda it is different. Solubility is a physical property because it keeps its identity, and just changes to a homogeneous mixture. With baking soda, it is soluble, it starts off kind of thick, but then it dissolves and creates a homogeneous solution with the water. 
Just mix 'em up, and WHABAM! It's soluble.

Chemical Properties: ...a substances ability to undergo changes that transform it into different substances, changes the identity 

Reaction with vinegar- This is the classic reaction that everyone thinks of when they think of vinegar. People think of when they were little and how they would make volcanoes using it. But, they never really knew what was going on down inside of the core of their little toy volcano. When the vinegar and baking soda combine, a chemical reaction occurs. We can see that it is a chemical reaction because of the fizzling, bubbling, and expansion occurring. The new gas that is also produce shows that it was most definitely a chemical change. 

Mmmmm, delicious

Reaction with hot sauce- I have the worlds hottest hot sauce that just sits in a cabinet at my house, so I thought, might as well give it a try. I knew that this had quite high acidity because it stings my mouth until I start to cry, and it worked! I put the hot sauce into the baking soda and it immediately started fizz and bubble like the vinegar. It didn't foam up huge like the vinegar, but it made the hot sauce expand a little and turn into a hot sauce/baking soda bubbly foam. Again, the bubbles creating a new gas immediately gives away that a chemical reaction was occurring. 

Look closely at the little bubbles.

Reaction with fire- I am a boy, so therefore I LOVE FIRE. And I REALLY wanted this baking soda to explode or something or at least flame a little, but I was let down. I kept trying and trying to get the baking soda to blow up or something, but nothing ever happened... It was quite a sad moment. But, the more important part here is realizing that flammability is a CHEMICAL property, and not a physical property. Flammability is chemical because it is irreversible, it is producing a new substances, whether it is ash or gas, and it can not be changed into what ever substance it was previously.

Reaction with water- When I checked for solubility, I let the mixture dissolve all the way down to nothing over time. But, at the beginning, if looked at very closely, bubbles are produced. There are little bubbles (if you can see them in the picture), and this hints a chemical change. Now, the important part to this chemical property though is understanding why it is a chemical property. Most believe that it is just dissolving, but when these bubbles are released, a new gas is being produced, and when a new gas is produced, the chemical ID is changing. Therefore, it is chemical. Baking soda is one of the few substances that can have a shared physical and chemical change so it is important to understand the two differences. 

Reaction with deli pepper juice- I found some lovely and delicious deli peppers in my refrigerator and decided to give it a try. They were sitting in their juice for a while and I thought that due to the acidity of this juice we could see a cool reaction. And a cool reaction was what I got. I poured a pepper along with its juice into the baking soda and it made a big bubbly reaction. Also, it turned a little green which was cool. The bubbles created some sort of new gas, which I don't know exactly, Ill just make a new element called Pj (Pepper Juice) so it created CO2PJ! (SEE OH TWO PEE JAY). Catchy? But in all seriousness, because of this color change combined with the bubbles creating a new gas it was obvious that a new chemical property was found. 
Nasty, but interesting...

Ladies and Gentleman, that concludes this magnificent blog post. Although pouring things together may seem simple to most, this experiment actually taught me quite a bit. At first I sat down baffled on what to do and what to try, but as I read through the chapter about these chemical properties I started to hatch ideas. I started to relate different substances and their chemical properties which then lead me to see that they would react with baking soda. It amazed me how much I could do with such simple ingredients. Little things were able to teach me a lot about chemistry and chemical and physical properties. It was a fun thing to do, and I can't wait to do larger scale tests that require real acids, elements, compounds, etc. (maybe even fire)!


  1. Fordo!
    Your blogs, as usual, maintain their humor with a touch of class. I love the way you detailed your experiments and managed to incorporate a porcupine into the mix. Although I do agree with you that taste is a physical property, there are people who would disagree. Take, for example, my good friend Cyrus. He is utterly convinced that taste is a chemical property because in order for you to obtain the taste, a reaction with the enzymes in your taste buds must occur. I, however, disagree, saying that although taste is a chemical sense, it is a physical property because (as you said) it really doesn't change the ID of the substance. For more of our debate check out my blog:
    Good job.

  2. Simply marvelous! Quite a knee slapper. One thing you said during your flammability thing is that one reason flammability is a chemical property is that it is irreversible. Be careful! There are some physical properties that are also irreversible. It's not a big problem here because you didn't rely only on that fact to classify it as physical or chemical, but like I said, be cautious. Also, more pictures of you doing the actual experiment would be cool, since they seemed pretty exciting. I thought your captions were hilarious, and your humor made me want to keep reading, so excellent job!

  3. This blog is simply magnificent! You have filled this blog with wonderful imagery when describing the physical and chemical properties. You also made your blog quite humorous which made me keep interest. Over all, you very few, if any, mistakes and did great!

  4. I love your blog! You kept me interested because it is funny, but i still learned a lot. You did a good job with explaining why each property was either chemical or physical. Really great job, ford!

  5. I liked the blog and it was awesome to see the old physics postings too. However I was confused as to why you said solubility in water was a physical property because you later went on to say that baking soda chemically reacts with water. If this is the case wouldn't the identity of the baking soda be changed in the solubility test and therefore not a physical change? Over all, your blog was entertaining and clear. Good job.

  6. Ford, I really enjoyed reading your blog. There were some typos, but who cares, it's chemistry. I liked reading about CO2PJ. I am curious to know the gas that was actually formed from that mixture. I fancy your use of horses and porcupines to demonstrate your results. Great job.
    -Brandt Ging Wood

  7. Ford, your blog was awesome! I really enjoy the way that you described things using humor and intelligence. You kept me interested throughout the blog and I give you props for that. Great job!