Are Cream Of Tartar And Baking Soda The Exact Same Thing?

There are a few baking ingredients that are pretty essential when it comes to any baked good recipe. A couple of staples include butter, flour, cocoa, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract, according to BBC. Baking soda and cream of tartar are both commonly used in baking and have similar appearances. Simply put, they are both white powders, but you'd be surprised to know that they actually serve different purposes and are best suited for different applications.

Baking soda and cream of tartar may be used together as a way of combining their powers, per Southern Living. For starters, sodium bicarbonate is the naturally occurring chemical compound known as baking soda (via Bob's Red Mill), while cream of tartar is the compound potassium bitartrate that's left behind after wine has been fermented, according to Healthline. Furthermore, cream of tartar has a low pH level, making it acidic, while baking soda has a higher pH, making it basic. Here's what else you need to know about the differences between baking soda and cream of tartar.

Baking soda and cream of tartar are two different things

Baking soda is made when soda ash is formed from heating ores of sodium; the soda ash is then mixed with carbon dioxide, leaving behind baking soda, per Bob's Red Mill. The purpose of baking soda is to act as a rising or leavening agent when combined with an acid, leading to fluffy, moist muffins, cakes, cookies, and more (via Healthline). Baking soda can also be used for various cleaning tasks and was used by Ancient Egyptians as part of the mummification process.

On the other hand, cream of tartar is mostly used in snickerdoodle recipes and gives the cookies their iconic flavor, per Food Network. It can also be used to ensure your cookies maintain a chewy texture rather than a crispy one because cream of tartar stops the sugar that's in the cookie dough from crystallizing, which is what results in crispy cookies. Cream of tartar may also be used as a thickening agent and a leavening agent, according to Healthline. Lastly, cream of tartar can also be used to make meringue from egg whites by helping to stabilize them.

Additionally, if you are ever out of baking powder (which is used to lighten and provide volume), you can always make some by combining both baking soda and cream of tartar (via Alpha Foodie).