Baking soda is a staple in just about every pantry. It is used in recipes because it can react with liquid ingredients and produce carbon dioxide.
For this reason, it is considered a leavening agent; the carbon dioxide that is produced is what makes baked goods rise.
If you try to use baking soda that has expired, you will notice that it clumps together, which reduces its ability to react with the liquid ingredients and make your baked goods rise.
In addition, if you do not store it properly, it can lose its ability to function as it should. It is important to store it well so that it stays fresh and usable as long as possible.
What Is Baking Soda?
Baking soda is all-natural, and it is made from the minerals nahcolite and trona. They are mined and refined into soda ash, which is calcium carbonate.
From there, it is made into baking soda, which is also called sodium bicarbonate.
Baking Soda Uses
Baking soda is used for baking, but it has other uses as well. People use baking soda to clean, to eliminate odors and moisture from the environment, to kill mold, and even to polish silver.
Baking soda is extremely versatile, and you can use it for any of these purposes. However, you should never use the same baking soda box for baking and odor elimination or cleaning.
When you leave the baking soda box open for periods of time, it will lose its effectiveness as a baking product. While you can use one box for this purpose, make sure that you store another box that is designated for baking only.
How to Store Baking Soda
Baking soda usually comes in a box, and it can remain in this box until it is completely used or expired. This box is made specifically for baking soda, so there is no reason to transfer it to another container.
Once you open the box to use it, you can keep it fresh by closing the box and storing it in a plastic bag. Make sure that you push all of the air out of the bag before you seal it, and store the baking soda in a dry place. People often place them in a corner of the cupboard.
It is important that the cupboard, or whatever place you choose to store your baking soda, will remain cool. You also want it to stay constant and not fluctuate.
Make sure that you choose a cupboard that is not near the oven, the stove, the microwave, the refrigerator, or any other appliances that use variations of heating and cooling.
In addition, you should not store your baking soda near your spices and other foods with a strong odor. The baking soda can actually absorb some of these odors through the plastic bag, which will reduce its shelf life.
When you take the baking soda out to use it, make sure that you smell it to see if it has absorbed any odors. You can also use a dry spoon to take some out and see if it has absorbed any moisture, which will reduce its ability to do its job in baking.
Make sure that you always use dry spoons to take your baking soda out of the box when you are cooking. If you use wet spoons, the water will actually activate the baking soda that is still in the box, and it won’t work as well when you are baking.
You can store baking soda on a shelf in your cupboard in this manner for two or three years. Just be sure to check it before you want to use it to make sure it is still fresh.
How to Test Your Baking Soda to Make Sure it Is Still Active
Baking soda is one of those items that everyone has in the cupboard, but many people use it infrequently.
Even when it is stored properly, baking soda has a shelf life of two to three years. It is hard to always remember how long you have had a particular box, so there is a way you can actually test your baking soda to make sure that it is still working.
Remove about half of a teaspoon of baking soda from the box, and pour a few drops of vinegar over it. If you see bubbles appear quickly, your baking soda is still fresh, and it will work in your recipe.
How to Use Expired Baking Soda
When baking soda expires, it doesn’t go bad in the way that some foods do. The expiration simply means that it will lose its efficacy. Odds are that expired baking soda will not be able to work as the leavening agent you need in your recipe.
However, there are other uses for your baking soda once it has expired. Take a look at all of the things that baking soda can do when it is no longer good for baking:
Remove tape: You can mix baking soda and water into a paste to remove old tape residue. After you rub the paste onto the tape residue, it will wipe off with a rag.
Cockroach control: Baking soda is deadly to roaches, so you can mix baking soda with sugar in a dish. The roaches are drawn to the sugar, but the baking soda will kill them.
Absorb Moisture and Odors: If you keep an open box of baking soda in your refrigerator, laundry room, or pantry closet, it will absorb odors and moisture, which will help to keep these areas fresh and smelling good.
Clear Your Drains: You can prevent clogs in your sink or shower by mixing baking soda with vinegar and pouring it down the drain.
Wash Your Hands: If you wash your hands with baking soda and warm water, it will clean them and remove any odors.
Get Rid of Mold and Mildew: If you have books or other items that have become moldy from humidity, you can sprinkle a little baking soda, and it will get rid of the mildew and keep the items dry.
Clean the Grill: Baking soda will help get rid of any debris left over after cooking. Sprinkle it right on the affected area, leave it overnight, and clean it the next day with a scrub brush and warm water.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.