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Food Science

Periodic Graphics

Periodic Graphics: Baking soda versus baking powder

Chemical educator and Compound Interest blogger Andy Brunning explains how chemical leavening agents make cookies and other baked goods rise

by Andy Brunning, special to C&EN
April 24, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 14


To download a pdf of this article, visit

References used to create this graphic:

De Leyn, I. “Other Leavening Agents.” In Bakery Products Science and Technology. 2nd ed., edited by Weibiao Zhou and Y. H. Hui, 175–81. Oxford: John Wiley and Sons, 2014. DOI: 10.1002/9781118792001.ch9.

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Completely revised and updated. New York: Scribner, 2004.

Vetter, J. L. “Leavening Agents.” In Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 2nd ed., edited by Benjamin Caballero, 3485–90. Academic Press, 2003. DOI: 10.1016/b0-12-227055-x/00683-0.

Zeece, Michael. “Chemical Properties of Water and pH.” In Introduction to the Chemistry of Food, 1–36. London: Academic Press, 2020. DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-12-809434-1.00001-3.

A collaboration between C&EN and Andy Brunning, author of the popular graphics blog Compound Interest

To see more of Brunning’s work, go to To see all of C&EN’s Periodic Graphics, visit


This graphic was updated on May 9, 2022, to correct the reaction for the decomposition of baking soda. Acid and heat break down sodium bicarbonate to CO2 through slightly different reactions, not the same reaction.



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