Here’s all you need to know about the shelf life and expiration of baking soda. Learn how long baking soda lasts and how to test if it’s still okay to use.
Got a half-open container of baking soda that’s a couple of months past the printed date?
If so, you’re probably wondering: does baking soda go bad, and will it still work in my baking?
If that sounds familiar, you’re in the right place. Read on.
Does Baking Soda Go Bad?
Baking soda doesn’t go bad as long as water doesn’t get to it, which means it can stay safe to use indefinitely. But it doesn’t retain potency forever, and after a few months after the printed date, you won’t get the same results you’d get from a fresh package.
Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on the printed date to know if your baking soda is still potent, nor do you have to use it and hope for the best. There’s a simple way to test if it still works as a leavening agent.
How to Tell if Baking Soda Is Still Good?
To test if your baking soda is still good, grab a cup and pour three tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice into it. Then, add a teaspoon of baking soda.
If there are lots of bubbles on the surface, the powder is still potent. If there’s little bubbling, your baking soda is losing its potency, and it probably won’t be good enough to leaven your baked goods.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
If the mixture doesn’t bubble, the product is stale. You can, however, use it for any other purpose, like cleaning. For cleaning, soda stays safe pretty much indefinitely.
We use vinegar or lemon juice instead of water because baking soda reacts with acid.
Alternatively, you can use cream of tartar to test the potency of your baking soda. Here’s how:
- Combine 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Pour 1/2 cup of hot water over the mix.
- Look for lots of bubbles.
Two parts cream of tartar mixed with one part baking soda is often used as homemade baking powder. And as you can learn in my article on baking powder, it should bubble heavily if mixed with hot water.
How Long Does Baking Soda Last?
|Baking soda (unopened)||Best-by + 3 – 6 months|
|Baking soda (opened)||6 months|
Unopened baking soda lasts for a couple of months beyond the printed date before it loses potency. After opening the package, it retains freshness for about 6 months.
If your baking soda is “expired” or opened for more than a couple of months, test its potency using the instructions outlined above before using it in baking. This way, you don’t end up with a flat cake or pancakes.
Baking soda generally has a long shelf life, even up to three years from the day it’s packaged. And it’s not like it loses its potency a few days after the printed date. But it’s also not like it’s going to be good forever.
After Expiration Date
Unopened baking soda should stay fresh for a couple of months beyond the printed date, but it’s impossible to tell exactly how long.
So if you want to use your “expired” baking soda for baking, check its freshness using the method described above before using it.
That takes only a minute or two but allows you to avoid a baking disaster. In other words, it’s time well spent.
Baking soda should retain freshness for about 6 months after opening the package. Air circulation makes the soda lose its potency a bit quicker, hence the limited storage time.
So if you want to use your baking soda that’s been opened for who knows how long, check its potency before using it for baking. This way, you won’t end up with dense pancakes or a flat cake.
Does Baking Soda Need to Be Refrigerated?
You don’t need to refrigerate baking soda. All it needs is a dry and cool storage spot and being sealed tightly at all times.
In fact, low temperatures don’t have much of an impact on baking soda, so you won’t gain anything by storing yours in the fridge.
If your baking soda comes in a resealable package, all you need is to place it in a pantry or kitchen cupboard, and you’re all set. If not, transfer the powder into a freezer bag or resealable container before storing it.
(The same storage practices work for cornstarch.)
If transferring baking soda to a different bag sounds like way too much of a hassle, rolling the top of the package is usually good enough for a couple of months of storage. That’s why I do, and I’ve never had any issues with it.
Simply rolling the top is definitely not good enough if you have issues with pantry bugs.
Can You Freeze Baking Soda?
You can freeze baking soda, but it’s not that much better than simply storing it sealed tightly at room temperature. That’s because low temperatures don’t affect baking soda that much.
Of course, you’ll probably prolong the freshness of the baking ingredient if you freeze it, so if you happen to have a ton of room in your freezer, be my guest.
When freezing baking soda, remember to keep the powder sealed tightly, so it doesn’t absorb any moisture from the environment. And get it to room temperature before using it in a recipe.