Last Updated: May 25, 2022

Does Baking Soda Go Bad? How to Test Its Potency?

does baking soda go bad

When people talk about baking soda going “bad,” they imply that it’s losing its potency. If you’re looking for the answer, you already know that baking soda is used in cooking to make baked goods fluffy and light. But did you know this versatile compound can also be used for dental care, skin care, cleaning, deodorizing, killing weed, and many other things?

However, the multipurpose baking soda can become ineffective if left on the kitchen counter for too long

So, does baking soda go bad? Let’s find out.

Can Baking Soda Expire? 

Baking soda, the powder form of a crystalline chemical compound, is effective even years after its best-by date. This powder doesn’t get spoiled by itself or expire like other food products, but it certainly loses its potency as a leavening agent over time.

Don’t worry about using it even after its best-by date, as it only indicates the best quality for a specific time. But it’s safe to use even after that time if your baking soda isn’t exposed to acidic moisture.

However, remember that fresh baking soda is more effective in cooking than an old one. So, try to use baking soda as soon as possible after opening the package.

But baking soda can lose its efficacy if

  • It encounters lemon juice, vinegar, or other acids or
  • If it picks up acidic remnants from the kitchen counter.

Let’s look at the difference between baking soda vs baking powder

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

                    Baking SodaBaking Powder
Baking soda activates only when combined with a liquid and an acidic ingredient.Baking powder has an acid component included in it.
Baking soda generally doesn’t come with an expiration date.Baking powder comes with an expiration date.
It makes baked goods light and fluffy.This leavening agent helps pastry and bread rise.

How Long Does Baking Soda Last?

Let me make it easy for you:

  • An unopened package of baking soda can be used two years past its best-by date.
  • Baking soda opened and stored in an airtight container has a shelf life of about six months.

How to Tell if Baking Soda is Still Potent

As I’ve already mentioned, only potent baking soda can give the perfect softness and fluffiness that any recipe requires. And, to check if your baking soda still has its potency, you need to run a simple test.

You may also like: How Long Is Cheesecake Good For

You will need some vinegar, lemon juice, or anything acidic to do the test. Because when active baking soda comes into contact with acid, it produces carbon dioxide gas that bubbles and acts on the dough and makes it rise.

baking soda reaction happening
Image credit: JPBC, Shutterstock

So, follow the steps to check the potency of your baking soda.

Step-1. Place a teaspoon of baking soda in a bowl.

Step-2. Pour some vinegar or lemon juice into the bowl.

Result: If you see the mixture is instantly fizzing heavily, your baking soda is still potent enough to use in baking. But if it doesn’t fizz heavily, your baking soda has gone bad. If this is the case, you can use the remaining baking soda for cleaning and buy a new package for baking.

baking soda in refrigerator
Image credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

How To Store Baking Soda

You should keep your leavening agent, “baking soda,” in a cool and dry place like a pantry or spice cupboard in an airtight container for the best shelf life. Because it can be contaminated if left in an open package, it will be exposed to the steam from your cooking and the acid from the dishwasher.

Keep your baking soda away from the oven, stove, fridge, and freezer. Heat and moisture diminish baking soda’s potency.

So, if your baking soda comes in a paper or plastic bag that can’t be resealed, move the powder to an airtight container. It will enable you to

  • Seal it properly after every use and 
  • Prevent air circulation. 

As a result, baking soda will be safe from air impurities and potent for a longer time.

Can You Freeze Baking Soda?

You shouldn’t freeze the baking soda you want to use in your recipes and keep it away from the fridge or freezer. Otherwise, it will have all the fridge smell.

However, you can keep baking soda in your fridge or freezer only when trying to eliminate odors. If this is the case, you should remember to replace the baking soda once a month, and you must never use that baking soda for baking.

Can You Use Your Old Baking Soda?

Don’t worry if you’ve got some old baking soda that didn’t pass the potency test. Instead of throwing them away, you can also make good use of them.

You can use old baking soda to

  • Clean your pans, pots, and kitchen counters. Just spread some baking soda on the surface and rub it with a sponge.
  • Remove mildew and soap scum from bathrooms. Follow the same technique as before.
  • Remove the foul smell from your freezer and fridge. Place some baking soda in a bowl in the fridge.
  • Deodorize garbage bins and shoe cabinets. Follow the same process as the previous one.

So, even if its leavening effect declines, old baking soda is still good at polishing, cleaning, and deodorizing.

However, you’ll need active baking soda for tough cleaning tasks. For example, clean an oven with food particles or unclog a drain because active soda’s chemistry with an acid makes cleaning easier by loosening things up.

You may also like: Do Pickles Go Bad

Key Takeaways

  • Baking soda doesn’t expire; instead, it loses its efficacy.
  • You can easily do a simple test to check its potency.
  • You can use old, effective baking soda for cleaning and deodorizing.
  • To avoid health risks, it’s best not to consume old baking soda.

Leave a Comment