There’s probably nothing more useful when you’re baking than baking soda. It helps to ensure that your cakes rise exactly the way that they are supposed to. Light, fluffy textures are an essential part of making tasty baked goods. But is there a dark side to the use of baking soda? Are we unwittingly introducing a major fire hazard into our homes?
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is not flammable and will not catch fire. It can even be used to extinguish some fires. However, baking powder is highly combustible and potentially explosive. It is important to distinguish between the two.
Let’s take a look at baking soda and baking powder in a bit more detail, as well as why one can catch fire but the other will not.
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Also read: What Makes Something Flammable?
Table of Contents
What Is Baking Soda?
Baking soda is a white powder which is made of Sodium Bicarbonate.
It dissolves easily in water and can also be found in crystal form as well as powder.
It has no discernible smell and its important property, from a baking perspective, is that it releases carbon dioxide when it comes into contact with acids.
It’s the release of the bubbles of gas during cooking that gives cakes a light and fluffy aerated texture and it’s why baking soda is an essential part of any cook’s armory.
It also has some medical properties, and it can be used to alleviate the pain of sun burn or to reduce the sting of an inset bite.
Oddly, it is also used as a form of fungicide in agricultural settings.
Also read: Is Vinegar Flammable? Can it Catch Fire?
Is It Flammable?
Baking soda is not flammable and can even be used to put out some types of fires.
Baking soda requires so much heat to break it down into its constituent elements that it won’t burn at any temperature that you might encounter in a standard fire.
This is good news because it means you can use baking soda, in the same way that you would use salt, to extinguish a blaze.
Simple throw lots of it over a fire until the fire is smothered and starved of oxygen.
We doubt baking soda will get used like this very often as most kitchens won’t have enough baking soda on hand to put out much more than a very tiny fire.
Is It Reactive?
Baking soda is quite reactive. It can combine with other chemicals to create specific reactions, such as carbon dioxide being released when combined with acids.
However, in the home or even in the industrial kitchen – you’re unlikely to mix it with anything that will cause any serious problems.
Also read: Is Dust Flammable? When To Worry…
Can It Ever Catch on Fire or Combust?
No, baking soda isn’t combustible which means that it won’t catch on fire under any normal circumstances.
You would need so much heat to get baking soda to burn that burning baking soda would be the least of your problems.
This means you can store baking soda pretty much anywhere in a kitchen without any major risks.
Also read: Is Chalk Flammable? It Depends…
What Happens When You Light It On Fire?
You can’t light baking soda on fire because it doesn’t burn, but you can mix it with other materials to create interesting fires.
In fact, by using lighter fluid, sugar, and a container as well as some baking powder, you can create a really cool “Black fire snake.”
Note: This looks like a lot of fun, but I am not recommending anybody try this. If you do, please be careful and ensure that you do it in a safe place and have a fire extinguisher on hand, just in case something goes wrong.
There are some more cool baking soda reactions here:
Can It Make Other Things More Flammable?
I can’t think of any given chemical reaction between baking soda and any commonly available chemical or product that would make the risks of fire greater.
Is Baking Soda And Vinegar A Flammable Mix?
Baking soda and vinegar will react, but the mixture is not flammable.
Baking soda reacts with acids.
Vinegar is a very weak acid.
When you mix the two, you find that they quickly neutralize each other.
And you lose the carbon dioxide making properties of the baking soda and the bitter acidic taste of the vinegar too.
In general terms, we can’t think of a good reason to mix these two compounds in your kitchen.
What About Baking Powder?
Baking powder contains cream of tartar and cornstarch, which are flammable. Baking powder can catch fire and should not be used to extinguish a fire.
Baking powder contains a little bit of baking soda, but it also contains “cream of tartar” which is a dry acid, and often, cornstarch too.
If you were foolish enough to thrown baking powder all over a kitchen fire, then you would not be likely to extinguish the flames.
Instead, you’re likely to ensure that your fire gets out of control, quickly and burns at a much more ferocious rate.
You don’t need to panic about having baking powder around, it won’t catch fire particularly easily when stored sensibly but don’t use it as a fire extinguisher.
Also read: Is Mayonnaise Flammable? Will it Burn?