Thursday, May 5, 2011

When potassium or sodium bicarbonate was used in baking powders: saleratus (Latin for “salt” and “aerated”)

The word saleratus has its roots in New Latin: sal aeratus, meaning aerated salt [1]. Saleratus was the name for potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3) or sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), which was sold in the mid-19th century as baking powder  (baking soda) in paper packets [2]: in North America, settlers heading west and Civil War soldiers looking for fast food used saleratus to make “lightnin‘bread”  or “aerated bread” in skillets over campfire. Baking soda easily develops carbon dioxide gas on heating and contact with acidic substances such as vinegar, while yeast takes hours and some baking experience to achieve equally fluffy food.

Beyond baking: saleratus became a product of many uses including the treatment of burns, abrasions and indigestions as well as cleaning and odor elimination (such as sulfide odors) [3]. Although the name saleratus is rarely used today—other than in historical context—the ingredients of this “industrial revolution product” and their chemical reactivities are.

Keywords: chemical history, household products, baking, raising agent, alkali hydrogenecarbonates

[1] The Free Dictionary: saleratus [].
[2] Jane E. Boyd: Rise Up. Chemical Heritage Spring 201129 (1), page 9.
[3] sodium bicarbonate uses [].

No comments:

Post a Comment