Sodium Bicarbonate


Sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda, bicarbonate of soda or bicarb, is a white crystalline power. Its formula is NaHCO3.In water, this chemical compound breaks down and forms sodium and bicarbonate, making an alkaline solution [1,2,3]

Uses [1,2,3,4,5]

There are two major uses for sodium bicarbonate: as a baking ingredient (food additive E500), and as a medication. In baking, it is used as a leavening agent that become activated when it is combined with an acid and a liquid. For example, when making Irish soda bread, the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to create carbon dioxide which pushes the batter up, making bread rise. In the medical world, sodium bicarbonate is used for a variety of conditions, including heartburn, indigestion and tooth discolouration. Sodium bicarbonate is also used in fireworks and in dry powder fire extinguishers.

Routes of Exposure [5]

The primary route of sodium bicarbonate is via ingestion, either through a tablet or through food.

Health Effects

Sodium bicarbonate is not through to produce any adverse health effects.

Acute Effects [5]

Severity of symptoms depend on the level and type of exposure.

Following short term exposure, bicarb may cause mild skin irritation.

If this bicarbonate of soda enters an open wound, lesion or abrasion, it could cause damage.  

Chronic Effects [5]

Sodium bicarbonate is not thought to result in any kind of chronic negative health effects. However, as a matter of course, use of the chemical compound should be monitored.


~h2First Aid Measures [5]

  • Ingestion: First aid for this chemical compound not usually required. If in doubt, contact a medical professional.
  • Skin contact: Remove contaminated clothing and footwear. Do not re-wear until they have been thoroughly de-contaminated. Rinse skin with plenty of soap and water for at least 15 minutes. If irritation continues, contact a doctor.
  • Eye contact: Rinse eyes for at least 15 minutes; don’t forget to wash under both upper and lower eyelids. Removal of contact lenses should only be done by skilled personnel. Immediate medical attention is required.
  • Inhaled: Remove person from contaminated area and take them to the nearest fresh air source and monitor their breathing. Other measures are usually unnecessary; if in doubt, contact the emergency service.
  • General: Never administer anything by mouth to an unconscious, exposed person.

  • Exposure Controls/Personal Protection [5]

  • Engineering controls: Emergency eyewash fountains and safety showers should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure. Ensure there is adequate ventilation.

  • Personal protection: Impervious protective clothing, including gloves, boots, a lab coat, and an apron or coveralls. Wear appropriate eye protection, such as chemical goggles. For specifications on PPE, check regulations in your jurisdiction. 

Regulation [6]

~h2United States:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) concentration for sodium bicarbonate of 5mg/m3.

Australia [8]

Safe Work Australia does not have a specific TWA for sodium bicarbonate.