How to Convert Carbonate to Bicarbonate


Sodium bicarbonate -- baking soda -- is a cheap, effective cleaning material. Although baking soda is readily available for purchase on its own, you can also make it yourself from sodium carbonate. This substance, more commonly known as soda ash, is available at many hardware stores. The process of converting sodium carbonate into sodium bicarbonate will not only give you a very effective cleaning solution, but will also give you practice with the same techniques used in basic chemistry titration.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass container
  • Spoon
  • Soda ash
  • Vinegar
  • Universal pH indicator strips
  • Pour 1 cup of water into the glass container. Adding the water first will ensure that the soda ash fully dissolves into solution and will avoid any residue sticking to the bottom of the container.

  • Add 1 tbsp. of soda ash to the water and stir to dissolve it, creating your sodium carbonate solution.

  • Dip and hold the bottom half of the pH indicator strip in the solution.

  • Pour vinegar into the solution slowly, watching for the color change on the indicator showing that the pH is between 8 and 9. The highest concentration of sodium bicarbonate is achieved at a pH of 8.4, but between a pH of 8 and 9 the solution is primarily sodium bicarbonate and can be used to clean.

Tips & Warnings

  • To dehydrate the solution and create a sodium bicarbonate powder, boil the completed solution down into a slurry. Leave it sitting out overnight or until the white sodium bicarbonate crystals precipitate out.
  • To make a larger batch of the cleaner, increase the amounts of water and soda ash. Stick to the same ratio of using 1 cup of water for every 1 tbsp. of soda ash.
  • Do not ingest any part of what you make. If you do, contact a poison control center.
  • Sodium carbonate should not be used as a cleaner, as it is extremely alkaline and will damage your things.
  • If you accidentally get any of the solution on your skin, immediately rinse the area under cold water for at least 10 seconds.

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  • Photo Credit Washing powder image by lefebvre_jonathan from
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