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Sodium Bicarbonate

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Nov 2, 2022.

Excipient (pharmacologically inactive substance)

What is it?

Sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3, is a common ingredient in effervescent powders and tablets. It is used with an acidic agent, such as citric or tartaric acid, to cause a reaction that produces carbon dioxide (CO2). The carbon dioxide leads to the resultant fizzing of the effervescent powder, such as seen with Alka-Seltzer.[1]

Effervescent tablets and powders are widely used to deliver medicines contained antacids, pain medications, and cough or cold medicines. They dissolve quickly, are stable, convenient and easy to carry.[1]

All carbonate salts on the FDA generally regarded as safe list. There is no evidence in the available information on calcium carbonate, potassium carbonate, potassium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, or sodium sesquicarbonate that demonstrates or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect a hazard to the public when used at levels that are now current or that might reasonably be expected in the future.[2]

List of medications using Sodium Bicarbonate


  1. SPI Pharma. Excipients and Carriers. Effer-Soda Sodium bicarbonate. Accessed 8/19/2012.
  2. FDA’s SCOGS database; carbonates; SCOGS-Report Number: 26; Accessed 8/17/2012.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.