Baking Soda (Bicarbonato de Sodio)

Baking Soda Ecuadorian Style

Baking Soda Ecuadorian Style

I have heard that Ecuador has no baking soda.  At every supermarket from Quito to Manta to Libratad and Salinas I have looked for that familiar orange box to no avail.  I read somewhere that you needed to get it at the pharmacy so today I stopped at our local Cruz Azul and asked for Bicarbonato. He brought out these tiny packets, 15 gramos to be exact at a cost of .45 cents each.  I asked for 10 went home and added two packets to both the freezer and the refrigerator.  Now I can make some cookies that require baking soda.

27 thoughts on “Baking Soda (Bicarbonato de Sodio)

  1. Pat Creasey commented on your post: (from Facebook)

    “glad to know that, I want to make up my own bisquick, cake mix and self-rising flour. I did bring back a couple of the orange boxes, would have shared, but glad to know how to get it.”

  2. Pingback: Morning Update – Monday, August 2, 2010 « South of Zero

  3. Grr. I just went to the pharmacy but forgot how to say it in spanish and was telling him something like “de hornear” but he didn’t get it. I’m going to go back and ask for bicarbonato. Please have it! I want to make cookies! Thanks for the info!

    • Hey Wendy
      The hornear you are talking about is Baking Powder – you can find this in almost any supermarket, the popular brand is Royal – Polvo Para Hornear — it’s in a white plastic container with a red lid and red label. The Baking Soda is called Bicarbonato de Sodio and that comes from the pharmacy (if they are out let me know as I have several packets). Have you seen food coloring in your travels around — I have looked in both Super Maxi and Hipermarket and there is none –I may ask my friend from the states to send me a box.

  4. my husband (native quiteño) said that they can’t sell it without permission, because they use it to do something for cocaine. ? this seems insane to me. i asked him to try to get some for me, we’ll see what happens.

  5. I found out about this today, thay its prohibited to buy more than an ounce (1 onza) of bicarbonato de sodio in pharmacys at each time, they gave me the same reason that they stop selling larger quantities because it can be used for making cocaine, this is complete BS… the big coorporative pharmaceutical industries probably prohibited because its an effective and cheap cure for a lot of things, there’s even doctors saying it can cure cancer (hongo – fungus),
    its ridiculous, how in the united states still sell arm n hammer bak…soda and here be prohibited to get it off the shelves.

    Wake up people!!

    I was born here and this really surprises me, this is something I didnt spect living in Quito

    • Hi David,
      I have purchased up to 10 packets at a time in the pharmacy in Salinas of course that is $4.50 which I find outrageous for baking soda. I have been told by many folks that you can find a box of it on the shelves with the cleaning supplies in the big supermarkets. Again, yesterday while in Hippermart I looked in the cleaning section and found none.
      Thanks for your comment, have a great day, Nancy & Joe

  6. Thanks for posting this! A group of ESL teachers and I were just talking about how much we missed making biscuits and gravy. We were at a loss for how to explain these to a British friend until we found this page. Now we can make some!

    • Hi Kelsey, It is a pain to buy itty bitty amounts in the pharmacy and so expensive at .45 for these little amounts. I have been told by others that you can find baking soda in the cleaning section of the supermarkets like SuperMaxi or Hippermart but all the times I had looked they did not have any unless it is some strange name beside bicarbonato-de-sodio. Our friends that live in Las Tunas just brought me a box as they had a few. Yesterday I found boric acid -it was with the cleaning supplies in Super Tia and is called El Secreto de la Abuelita – not sure if you use boric acid… thanks for your comment and have a great day, Nancy

  7. Thank you Nancy! My boyfriend needed some for his biology lab (he’s a high school bio teacher here in Quito) and we spent forever searching for it in Megamaxi to no avail. He ended up substituting baking powder instead. But now I need some for a biscuit recipe. I’m going to search for it in the cleaning section at Mega next time I’m there but if that doesn’t work I’m glad to know I can get a couple packets at the farmacia! I’ll report back if I find it in the cleaning section at Mega…

    • HI Liz, I hope you find it, at .45 cents for less than a teaspoon it gets expensive buying in the pharmacy. I actually have a good friend who brought me two boxes of Arm & Hammer last summer. Thanks for following our adventure. N

  8. And, I thought I was the only one not finding it….. 😉
    I even made a video about it – but we did find it in Quito (the maid brought these packets to me) and not quite as expensive as you are paying, but nearly!

    I only recently moved here and even thought about bringing some baking soda (I use it for brushing my teeth, cleaning as well as baking), but thought it too heavy to bring – didn’t know we could ‘black market’ sell it for more than the plane ticket! 😉

    I’ll bookmark your blog here – seems a good reference for those moving to Ecuador.

    • Hey Steve, Very cute video thanks for sharing. I had a friend bring me two boxes of his last trip to EC and I am very protective of it. I have shared small quantities with friends for their baking. I have heard that you can find it at the bigger stores in the cleaning section but I have looked and have had no luck both here and in Guayaquil. I guess when the Expats find it they buy it all. Thanks for your comment. Nancy

        • Hi Steve, that is a very exciting find. Joe and I did pass a chemical store in Portoviejo by the cathedral but there were several folks waiting in line and we were on mission for something else. I did see that they sold boric acid and borax. Our next trip I will take more time and see what other goodies they have for sale. Thanks for the heads up, I hope my readers go to your blog to find out where in Quito you made your find, Thanks, N

    • Hi Larry, No, I have had several folks bring me boxes of the stuff because we cannot buy it here. Then I share it with other expats that don’t have any…Bring a few extra and if you are up in our area I will barter a jar of mango jam for a box of it…ha ha Be well, Nancy

  9. Hi Nancy,
    I just came accross your blog and the comments about baking soda. I’ve been trying to find it in “normal” quantities forever. So I was really excited to see that Steve found some, but his blog doesn’t seem to be active anymore – could you tell me where it was that he found the baking soda? Thanks!!!

    • Maja, thanks for following the blog. I have never found it anywhere here in Ecuador except for those itty bitty packets in the pharmacy that cost an arm and leg. I seem to get a box every now and then as a gift when someone has gone back to the states. At one time someone on one of the forums said you could find it in the cleaning section of the supermarket but I have looked and looked and have never found it. Sorry I could not be much help. Nancy

  10. Hi Nancy,
    I came across your blog when I searched “Baking soda in Ecuador”. I have been looking everywhere for Baking Soda, today I found out it is illegal here in Ecuador. I wanted to use Baking Soda because I’ve read and watched youtube videos and the majority of people say it actually has many health benefits, do you know of any other alternative that works like Baking Soda but doesn’t have any weird/toxic ingredients? Or if the little amount that is sold on Pharmacies is the same one from the states?Sorry if I am phrasing this wrong. Hope to hear from you = ]

    • Hi Norman, I have never found anything larger than those small packets sold in the pharmacies. What is in the packet is baking soda but again it is so costly. My friends normally bring a few boxes back when they are in the states, then they give folks a gift of a box of baking soda. For us bakers baking soda is necessary in so many recipes. Hope you find someone in your area who when coming back from the states will add a box or two just for you. Have a blessed weekend, Nancy and Joe

      • Nancy,

        I took my blog/site down as living in Ecuador has really changed my views on things and my way of life, so that website really didn’t fit anymore… 😉

        There are many places to find baking soda in bulk in Quito – likely other large cities as well. As it is ‘illegal’, you have to ask for it ‘quietly’ and expect to pay more for it (I’ve been asked for up to $4 a pound), though I’ve really never had any issue finding it.

        I’ve bought it in different places around town from ‘barrel’ vendors (where they sell beans and other dried items – one that is ‘good’ is just off Plaza San Francisco, across the street from the hotel) – I’m sure there are many more. However, I have found the quality to be quite varied and often what I would call ‘cut down’ – I don’t know if they mix it with something or just low quality.

        As I have a cup of hot water with baking soda every morning, I use a lot of it and sometimes, I have bought it and found residue at the bottom of the cup, so you want to be wary of where you buy it (taking a bit of the soda and mixing into a little water should not be an issue with an honest seller)

        While you can buy it inside the Mercado in Santa Clara – DON’T! The lady there is happy to sell you “pure” baking soda, but I think it is mixed with rice or something and the quality is quite poor.

        However, near there, they sell the BEST I’ve seen in Ecuador – I would guess it to be as good as any in the US (before coming here, I thought “baking soda is baking soda…” so I didn’t care to notice such things there). I was only there once so far, with a good friend of mine that is a trained chef (so she has struggled all over to find the best places to find quality ingredients of all kinds)

        In this shop (it is on the corner – that sort of helps find it 🙂 they sell ‘OSA’ (bear) brand “BAKING SODIO ANTIACIDO” in 500g packets for $2.50. It is “pure” (beautifully white and no residue in the cup) and comes in sealed, pre-measured plastic, commercially prepared packets. The packet says the composition is “Cada 100g DE POLVO CONTIENEN: BICARBONATO DE SODIO USP 100g” and other manufacturer info, including that it is from Industria Columiana.

        I can’t add a picture here and I hesitate to upload one to my website, but I can provide one if needed.

        • Hi Steve, While we are in Manta I am going to check at one of the baking stores myself. Thanks for packet names that was help when I make that visit. Be well, thanks again for all the info. Nancy

    • Hi Maria,
      I am assuming that you live in Ecuador. so based on that here is where I have found Boric Acid.

      SuperMaxi here in Manta and Portoviejo has had it in a shaker can like you would buy Comet on the shelf with either the cleaners or the insecticides…you just got to look, they move it around a lot… The label is green with the words “Insecticida Natural Borax” in red, Manufacturer is Sello Azul the plastic container is white with a green punch hole lid.. In Portoviejo there is a chemical store near to the cathedral which is across the street from the Futbol stadium…these folks sell bulk Borax and Boric Acido…two different things but both should get rid of your bugs.

      Our friends ring the entire house with a little hill of Boric Acid or Borax even across the thresholds and they have no bugs. This time of year there are bugs all over the place and you really need to keep up with them…Here it is very seasonal and as soon as the rain stops the bugs find a hiding place and leave you alone, ha ha

      Be well, I hope this helps

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