Does baking soda go bad?

You have a large container of baking soda that has been sitting in the cupboard for who knows how long. You know it has a pretty long shelf life, but you’re not sure what exactly it means.

Does baking soda go bad? Will it still work on my bakery? These questions are pretty common if you find baking soda that you store for a couple of years.

In this article, we go over all kinds of information about baking soda: storage, shelf life, and baking power. If you want to know more about any of these topics, keep reading.

Sodium bicarbonate

How to store baking soda

You should store the baking soda in a similar way to baking powder or cornstarch. That means you should store it in a dry and relatively cool place. The pantry is the obvious choice, but a kitchen cabinet works too. The most important factor here is that the area should be dry, and there should not be even the remotest chance of moisture buildup.

Once the container is opened, remember to close it well after each use.

If the soda comes in a plastic or paper container that isn’t resealable, pour the powder into an airtight container. This last tip is especially helpful if you want to store this leavening agent for the long term.

How long does baking soda last?

Some baking soda containers come with an expiration date or other term related to the date on the label, but this is not always the case. If your packaging does not come with that information, you can assume that the shelf life is about three years.

If you’re using baking soda and it’s already past that date, it’s best to check its potency before using it.. That only takes a minute or two, but it allows you to avoid a baking disaster. Of course, if that date has passed, you can still use it for cooking, as long as it’s still potent.

Pumpkin pie from frozen puree

Pumpkin cake. Cinnamon is a must-have spice for anything with pumpkin.
Once the baking soda packet is opened, it should retain its freshness for about half a year. Air circulation makes the baking soda lose its potency a little faster, but it won’t make it unsafe to eat. Again, if you use baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda) for baking, check its strength before using if it sits in the cupboard for a long time.

Baking soda (unopened) Best for 3 years
Baking Soda (open) 6 months

How to tell if baking soda has lost its potency or is bad

As I mentioned earlier, when stored well, baking soda will not go bad in a way that makes it unsafe to use in baking or otherwise. However, if any moisture reaches it, the product will be unusable. If you store the powder properly, none of the above can happen.

Baking soda loses its potency to act as a leavening agent. That loss occurs gradually, so when the powder is old enough, it won’t do what you expect it to do in a baking project.

How do you know if the baking soda is fresh? There is a simple test. Take a cup and pour three tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice into it. Now add a teaspoon of baking soda. If there are some bubbles on the surface, the powder is still potent. This is what it looks like:

bubbly baking soda

If the mixture does not bubble, the product is rancid. However, you can use it for any other purpose, such as cleaning. For cleaning, baking soda stays safe almost indefinitely.

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