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Bicarbonate and Odors


Sodium Bicarbonate is put in room fresheners and is put in refrigerators to keep them from taking on a "sour" smell.

The logic of this is simple.

  • Sodium bicarbonate is a weak base. Solutions have a pH of 8-9.
  • Sour smells are caused by gaseous organic chemicals which are acids. Remember that acids also cause a sour taste.
  • The sodium bicarbonate reacts with these organic acids to produce their sodium salts and carbon dioxide and water.
  • Sodium salts of organic acids are relatively non-volatile and therefore do not have an odor.