Baking soda is an inexpensive yet versatile substance that’s commonly found in many kitchens and pantries.
It’s also a staple in many households across the globe.
But does baking soda go bad?
If you’ve ever opened up a box of baking soda only to find that it’s no longer white and fluffy, then you may have noticed that your baking soda has gone bad.
And while this isn’t necessarily a sign that the entire batch is contaminated, it can certainly be a red flag that should prompt you to throw out any leftover baking soda as soon as possible.
What causes baking soda to go bad?
Baking soda is a chemical compound made from sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3).
This means that baking soda contains two different elements—a base and an acid.
When baking soda comes into contact with water, it reacts by releasing carbon dioxide gas.
The carbon dioxide gas helps to leaven bread and biscuits, but over time, it can cause your baking soda to lose its whiteness and become cloudy, discolored, and even smell stale.
And because baking soda is acidic itself, it can also react with other ingredients, such as fats and oils.
This can lead to rancidity, which not only makes your baked goods taste less than delicious, but also causes them to break down faster.
How can you tell if baking soda is bad?
To determine whether or not your baking soda has gone bad, there are a few things you can do to test it.
You can try putting a little bit of the baking soda into a bowl of warm water.
If it dissolves easily and quickly, then chances are good that your baking soda is still fresh.
You can also put a piece of baking soda on a plate and add a small amount of vinegar to the mixture.
If the baking soda absorbs the vinegar quickly, then you’ll know that it’s still fresh.
Another way to test your baking soda is to check it against another brand.
If the color, texture, and consistency match up perfectly, then you’re probably dealing with a clean batch of baking soda.
What are the consequences of using bad baking soda?
Using old or expired baking soda can cause all sorts of problems.
Not only will your food turn sour and bitter, but it can also affect the flavor of other ingredients.
For example, if you use baking soda to make a cake batter, then you won’t want the finished product to taste like baking soda!
The most common problem caused by using bad baking soda is off-flavors.
These include everything from a metallic taste to a burnt smell.
As the baking soda ages, it begins to release more carbon dioxide, which can make your food taste flat.
In addition to making your food taste bad, the carbon dioxide can also cause the food to spoil faster.
How long does baking soda typically last before it goes bad?
Baking soda is usually pretty cheap.
Most people don’t mind shelling out $1 per pound for the stuff.
However, if you’ve had baking soda sitting around for months at a time, you may start to notice a change in its quality.
According to Consumer Reports, baking soda generally lasts between one and two years.
However, it will continue to degrade after that period of time.
This means that even if you buy a new batch every year, it will eventually begin to lose its potency.
Can bad baking soda be fixed or salvaged?
While baking soda can often be difficult to salvage, you can always try to fix it yourself.
If you have a small amount of baking soda left that hasn’t turned bad, you can simply mix it with a little bit of water.
This will help to neutralize the baking soda so that it doesn’t impart any off-flavors onto your food.
Alternatively, you can place the baking soda in a ziplock bag and seal it tightly.
Afterward, you can leave it in a dark place overnight, where it will absorb any odors that may be lingering inside the bag.
What are some common uses for baking soda?
Most people use baking soda to make homemade soap, but it can also be used to clean just about anything else you might encounter in the kitchen.
If you’ve got a stain on your carpet, you can rub the area with baking soda and let it sit for several minutes before vacuuming it up.
It’s also a great way to remove stains from clothing.
Just sprinkle the baking soda directly on the fabric and let it sit for a few minutes before washing it away.
You can also apply it to the surface of the clothes and allow it to dry in order to loosen stubborn stains.
How can baking soda be used to extend the shelf life of other products?
Baking soda is a natural preservative, meaning that it can protect other foods from spoiling.
This includes both organic and non-organic foods.
Because baking soda is acidic, it works well to prevent bacteria growth.
Plus, since it neutralizes acids, it can keep fruits and vegetables from turning mushy.
This is especially helpful when you’re storing certain fruits and veggies.
Apples, pears, carrots, and tomatoes are just a few examples of foods that benefit from being stored in a baking soda solution.
This is because they contain high amounts of sugar, which attracts moisture and encourages mold to grow.
By adding baking soda to these foods, you can prevent them from rotting.
What are some safety precautions to take when using baking soda?
Since baking soda is acidic, you should always make sure that you’re mixing it correctly.
To avoid accidentally eating too much baking soda, you should never use it to bake cookies or cakes.
Instead, you should use it as a cleaner or deodorizer.
You should also only use it to clean your home, not your body.
What are some alternative uses for baking soda?
There are plenty of ways to use baking soda besides cleaning your house and your dishes.
For example, you can mix baking soda with water and create a paste to clear up acne.
Or, if you have a pet, you can use baking soda to reduce odor coming from their waste.
What are some tips for storing baking soda?
Store baking soda in an airtight container.
Don’t store baking soda near strong chemicals, such as bleach, ammonia, and other cleaners.
Keep baking soda away from heat, sunlight, and humidity.
For more information about baking soda and other related topics, here are some links we recommend checking out:
How to Make Homemade Soap in Your Kitchen
How to Clean Stains From Carpet With Baking Soda
How to Remove Odor From Clothes Using Baking Soda
How to Deodorize Pet Waste With Baking Soda
How to Make Natural Toothpaste With Baking Soda