Sodium bicarbonate (So-dee-um bye-KAR-bun-ate) is a white, odorless, crystalline solid or powder that is stable in dry air but slowly decomposes in moist air to form sodium carbonate. It is a common additive in food, particularly for baking, where it is used as a leavening agent.
It is also useful in making soda blasting and for corrosion removal of metals. It is found naturally in the Eocene-age Green River Formation in Colorado.
The world’s main source of nahcolite is the Piceance Creek Basin in western Colorado, which is part of the larger Green River formation. It is extracted using solution mining, pumping heated water through nahcolite beds to dissolve the mineral.
This process results in a chemical reaction of nahcolite with the minerals sodium hydroxide and calcium carbonate, which results in the production of a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and ammonium bicarbonate. This mixture is then refined to produce sodium carbonate in the Solvay process.
Sodium bicarbonate is an important industrial chemical, but it has also been used as a natural deodorant. It contains a high level of ions that neutralize bacteria and other odors causing body odor.
Sodium bicarbonate is an important ingredient in antacids and effervescent products, which help regulate the pH balance in the human body. It is also used in the treatment of renal tubular acidosis, in which there is an imbalance between bicarbonate and acid ions in the plasma. Excessive amounts of this substance can upset the electrolyte balance and cause metabolic alkalosis or even sodium overload, which can lead to serious medical conditions.