Soda vs. Powder

The difference between baking powder and baking soda, for some reason, always trips me up. I haven't had any mishaps lately (my husband does the baking anyways) but every time I go to the cupboard, I have to double and triple check that I retrieved the correct product.

According to chemistry.about.com, both do the same thing - they make whatever you're baking 'rise.' (Knew that.) They each contain sodium bicarbonate, and when mixed with something acidic, will produce the carbon dioxide. The difference between them is that baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate (so the chemical process begins as soon as you mix in the acidic ingredient, so you have to bake right away), and baking powder is diluted with an acidic ingredient already (usually cream of tartar - so it reacts with the liquid ingredients first, can sit for awhile, and then reacts again to the heat of the oven). A recipe calls for one or the other depending on what the other ingredients are and how they'll all react to each other chemically. And, as The Joy of Baking points out, when a recipe calls for both -- you're sure to get added tenderness in your cookies. Yum.

Cool. This still doesn't help me know I'm going for the right ingredient, though. So, I've had to invent my own device. Here it is:
Powder comes in a canister.
Soda lives in the fridge, with the soda (pop). We both drink our pop warm, though, so maybe I could try this...
Soda can de-oda-rize (deodorize) too.

(I hear you groaning. Don't worry. I'm groaning too.)

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