Sodium carbonate vs Sodium bicarbonate

Sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) are two related compounds, each with different properties and uses. Here are the main differences between sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate:

Sodium carbonate vs Sodium bicarbonate

Chemical composition:

  • Sodium carbonate: It contains two sodium (Na) ions, one carbon (C) atom and three oxygen (O) atoms. The chemical formula is Na2CO3.
  • Sodium bicarbonate: It contains one sodium (Na) ion, one carbon (C) atom, three oxygen (O) atoms and one hydrogen (H) atom. The chemical formula is NaHCO3.


  • Sodium carbonate is often produced synthetically, and is commonly known as soda ash or washing soda.
  • Sodium bicarbonate is usually produced through the reaction between carbon dioxide and a solution of sodium carbonate.


  • Sodium carbonate is a white, crystalline powder often used in water softeners and various industrial processes.
  • Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, is also a white crystalline powder, but finer and is commonly used in cooking, cleaning, and various household applications.


  • Sodium carbonate is alkaline and has a high pH (about 11-12).
  • Sodium bicarbonate is also alkaline but has a mild pH (about 8.3–8.4).


  • Sodium carbonate is used in a variety of industrial applications, including glass manufacturing, paper production, water softening, and as a cleaning agent (washing soda).
  • Sodium bicarbonate is commonly used as a leavening agent in baking. It is also used for cleaning, deodorizing and as an antacid to neutralize stomach acid.


  • Sodium carbonate reacts with acid to produce carbon dioxide gas.
  • Sodium bicarbonate reacts with acid to form carbon dioxide gas, water, and salt.


  • When heated, sodium carbonate undergoes thermal decomposition to produce sodium oxide (Na2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Sodium bicarbonate undergoes thermal decomposition at low temperatures, releasing carbon dioxide, water, and sodium carbonate.

In short, while sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate both sound similar in name and contain sodium, their chemical structure, properties, and uses are different. Sodium carbonate is more strongly alkaline and has industrial applications, while sodium bicarbonate is a mildly alkaline compound that is commonly used in households, especially in cooking and cleaning.