Nicolas Leblanc, in 1791, gave the world a chemical compound which revolutionized food products, Sodium Bicarbonate. More commonly known as baking soda, this base has become an integral substance found in almost every household. Leblanc, a surgeon and private physician, was striving to make ends meet for his family when he heard about the prize offered by the French Academy of Science to anybody who can develop a process for producing soda ash from salt. The prize finally went to Leblanc, who had come up with the Leblanc process, which developed baking soda from seas salt and sulfuric acid. The unfortunate part is that Leblanc never got his prize, and in 1801 he shot himself dead (Vande Velde, 1996).
His discovery, however, became the most widely used acidic salt in the world. What we call baking soda, chemist refer to as sodium bicarbonate or the bicarbonate of soda. Whatever the name might be, this acidic salt came as a breadth of fresh air for all food enthusiasts. Not only food, this simple chemical compound has innumerable uses around the home, from a soap to a scrubbing material.
NaHCO3 , the chemical name for baking soda, is manufactured through several processes in present times. The Leblanc process soon became outdated because of its expensive nature and was replaced by a more efficient, Solvay process. And more surprisingly, this highly useful compound is also produced in the human body. It helps to keep the human body free of stomach acids and by maintaining the required pH level (Vande Velde, 1996). Did you ever think sodium carbonate had so many good qualities?
In fact, the list of applications of sodium bicarbonate or baking soda is not exhaustive and still expanding. From use in the fire extinguishers and cooking to medical uses, baking soda has found its way in almost every industry and every household. Ever thought about why baking soda is so useful and how it has so many applications?
The versatility and usefulness of the baking soda can be attributed to its chemical properties. It has a flexible molecular structure which enables it use as mild abrasive. Since it is also an attractant, it can be easily used as a cleaning and scrubbing agent. Due to its property as an alkali, baking soda is best used as a deodorizing agent (Bishop et al, 2004). And, guess what the most innovative use of a chemical compound is. Its entertainment! Wondering how baking soda can be used for entertainment? Just mix it vinegar and watch the reaction and fizz, it gives children great entertainment value! Not only is this baking soda, due to in biodegradable and non-toxic characteristics, also a great home-made and side-effect free pest control agent, which can be used in all parts of the house (Bishop et al, 2004).
Bishop, D & Edge, J & Davis, C; &Goodman, C. "Induced metabolic alkalosis affects muscle metabolism and repeated-sprint ability". Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 2004.
Vande Velde, R.. Solvay, BICAR - Sodium bicarbonate and its many uses. Brussels, Belgium: 1996.