Baking soda is the same as bicarbonate of soda. It is a leavening agent that creates air bubbles in batter for baked goods. These bubbles expand when cooked, causing the end product to rise.
Baking soda is an odorless, white powder. In order to create the chemical reaction that results in the rising effect, baking soda must be combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient, such as honey, chocolate, lemon juice or buttermilk.
In addition to its culinary uses, baking soda has innumerable personal care and household uses. For example, it can be used to clean teeth and freshen breath, alleviate itching and soothe stomach upsets. Around the house, its abrasive properties lend themselves to cleaning everything from ovens and sinks. It even balances the pH level in laundry to produce cleaner, fresher results.