Sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate is the chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. Sodium bicarbonate is a white solid that is crystalline but often appears as a fine powder. It can be used to experiment and is not very dangerous. It has a slight alkaline taste resembling that of washing soda (sodium carbonate). It is a component of the mineral natron and is found dissolved in many mineral springs. The natural mineral form is known as nahcolite. It is found in its dissolved form in bile, where it serves to neutralize the acidity of the hydrochloric acid produced by the stomach, and is excreted into the duodenum of the small intestine via the bile duct. It is also produced artificially.
Since it has long been known and is widely used, the salt has many related names such as baking soda, bread soda, cooking soda, bicarbonate of soda. Colloquially, its name is shortened to sodium bicarb, bicarb soda, or simply bicarb. The word saleratus, from Latin sal ÃƒÂ¦ratus meaning â€œaerated saltâ€, was widely used in the 19th century for both sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate. The term has now fallen out of common usage.
The ancient Egyptians used natural deposits of natron, a mixture consisting mostly of sodium carbonate decahydrate and sodium bicarbonate. The natron was used as a cleansing agent like soap.
In 1791, a French chemist, Nicolas Leblanc, produced sodium bicarbonate as we know it today. In 1846 two New York bakers, John Dwight and Austin Church, established the first factory to develop baking soda from sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide.