Baking soda is useful for tenderizing meats and leavening baked goods. In the case of meats, it allegedly breaks down proteins/amino acids.

However, does this usage pose a risk to digestion? Could the baking soda continue to neutralize the stomach acids? Or does its effect "wear off" after some time marinating? Or does it "decompose" sufficiently by the cooking?


The relationship between acid and bicarbonate is that 1 H+ neutralizes 1 bicarbonate (HCO3) molecule as represented in the following equation:

HCl + NaHCO3 --> NaCl + H2CO3

So assuming that the stomach has a pH of 3 and a volume of 100 ml (see table 1, HS = Health Subject, mean vol = 133 ml). A pH of 3 means a concentration of H+ ions of 0.001 mol/l (conc = negative log10 of the pH...10-3 mol/l). Now, assuming all the bicarbonate added makes it to the stomach, we can work out empirically how much bicarbonate it would IN THEORY take to neutralize all the acid in the stomach

The above means that for 100 ml (0.1 l) of stomach acid there is enough hydrogen ions to neutralize 0.0001 mol (n = C * V; 0.001 mol/l * 0.1 l) of HCO3. NaHCO3 has a molar mass of 84.007 g/mol. Using our very best chemistry:

Mass = number of mole * molar mass

Mass = 0.0001 mol * 84.007 g/mol

Mass = 0.0084007 grams.

Now, there's a about 5 g of baking soda in 1 teaspoon. This is a massive amount more than you see in the equation above.

So what happens to the rest?

Well, in real life, some reacts with the food during preparation, some (a lot) is lost to decomposition from heat, some isn't consumed, and last, but certainly not least; the stomach adds more acid to maintain its pH, which is essential for function of the proteolytic enzymes in the stomach.

  • $\begingroup$ Wow that's awesome. I never got to take a chemistry class, so this is super enlightening. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – katie
    Oct 6 '21 at 1:42

Sodium bicarbonate is alkaline in nature and it breaks down in presence of an acid.

When you eat it it gets neutralized by the acid in your stomach,this will increase the PH a bit but it will normally not interfere with your digestion.

When sodium bicarbonate breaks down it splits into CO2,water and sodium,so it will add sodium to your body and it might have a negative effect on your blood pressure and kidneys.

  • $\begingroup$ So it depends on quantity and time, assuming the baking soda begins breaking down as it comes in contact with the raw meat (acidic) $\endgroup$
    – katie
    Oct 5 '21 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ sodium bicarbonate does not break down in contact with meat or it breaks down very slowly,it increases the alcalinity of the meat and act as a salt.you can read about sodium bicarbonate here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_bicarbonate $\endgroup$ Oct 6 '21 at 4:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @trondhansen Can confirm. A glass full of baking soda water tastes a lot like a glass full of salt water. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Oct 6 '21 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ it had been dangerous if it had a massive reaction in contact with meat or the human body. $\endgroup$ Oct 6 '21 at 4:32

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