Baking soda, a staple leavening agent, makes baked goods rise. Known chemically as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate, it can stand alone in some recipes, but it also adds the alkaline ingredient to baking powder, which includes the acid necessary to trigger the reaction that creates the lift. Baking soda used separately must be combined in a recipe with an acid ingredient such as brown sugar, vinegar, honey, or buttermilk to work.
Use of Baking Soda Mix baking soda with the other dry ingredients in your recipe to evenly distribute it and protect it from the wet ingredients, which could activate it before you're ready. Kitchen lore often recommends adding a small amount of baking soda to boiling water before you blanch green vegetables, as a way to preserve their color, but doing this actually strips them of vitamin C and causes them to soften more quickly, sometimes to the point of mush.