My mom while making Potato chips put some Baking Soda in Oil with it. Just curious to know, it was first time Baking Soda in Oil at that high temperature. Is it safe to eat?

Answer ASAP before my chips get cold.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't see baking soda reacting with oil - so in that case it is safe. However deep frying can give temperatures of around 175–190 °C and sodium bicarbonate (which is baking powder) starts decomposing in sodium carbonate (what I don't advise eating) and at higher temperatures the baking powder will decompose very quickly into Na2CO3. Of course if there is a very small amount of baking powder added I don't see a problem (but I'm not certain that it is safe to eat...) $\endgroup$
    – user2117
    Feb 9 '14 at 17:49

Baking soda is essentially sodium hydrogen carbonate, which should not be expected to react with oil because of its poor solubility. $\ce{NaHCO3}$ melts at 50 °C and starts to decompose slowly to sodium carbonate, carbon dioxide and water.

$$\ce{2NaHCO3 ->~ Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2\uparrow}$$

By the release of carbon dioxide, $\ce{NaHCO3}$ acts as a raising agent when used in baking. Under the conditions of deep frying (150-200 °C), the decomposition is fast as the reaction is entropically favored (generation of gases). $\ce{CO2}$ and $\ce{H2O}$ escape from the baking mixture, leaving sodium carbonate behind.

The ingestion of small amounts of $\ce{Na2CO3}$, which are generated from typically used amounts of baking soda, should not be a health problem. Acidic ingredients in the baking mixture will convert sodium carbonate into the sodium salts of the respective acids, carbon dioxide and water. Higher amounts of sodium carbonate, stemming from the use of too much baking soda, would cause an unpleasant metallic taste of the baked food. Sodium carbonate is actually used as a food additive (E 500) and in toothpastes as a foaming agent and abrasive.


The flavor of fine fried potatoes is from browning, the Maillard reaction. Carbonyls (sugars) condense with amino groups (alanine residees in protein) to Schiff bases, then the fun starts. The optimum pH for condensation is bicarbonate buffer, slightly basic. One might then do the experiment of soaking fries in dilute bicarbonate solution, drain, and fry. Does that taste better than untreated controls? Push it a little harder by dissolving a jot of honey (or corn syrup) in the bicarb buffer to add reducing carbonyls from glucose and fructose.

A fine bagel is formed from dough, boiled in honey water (reducing carbonyls), brushed with egg wash (protein), then baked. It's all about the crust!

Either way, don't overcook toward burned - trace acrylamide formation.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ While your answer contains many interesting tidbits of information, it does not address the question at hand. Generally, this isn't a helpful answer. $\endgroup$
    – tschoppi
    Feb 11 '14 at 16:01

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