Can I Use Baking Soda Beyond Its Expiration Date?

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / New Africa

Baking soda is a key ingredient in many baked goods. Just one small spoonful of this magic and inexpensive ingredient can make or break a cake, bread, or pastry recipe. You must use the correct amount of baking soda to have the ideal rise and texture for your baked goods. It’s also critical that your baking soda is fresh. Just like most baking ingredients, baking soda doesn’t last forever. This may have you wondering if it is safe to use baking soda beyond its expiration date.

Your expired baking soda might still be safe to cook with if it has not been opened, as it can last two years or longer unopened, but should ideally be used within six months once the seal is broken. To test if your baking soda is still safe for baking, combine a spoonful of baking soda and lemon juice, and if it foams and bubbles, then it’s still fresh.

Baking soda is a cheap ingredient, so buying a new container isn’t going to set you back much. But sometimes you are in a rush to bake and can’t make it to the store right away. Also, it is good to know how long your baking soda lasts, and how to test if it is still safe for baking. After all, one misjudgment and you can end up with a baking disaster. So, keep reading to learn how long your baking soda lasts, and how you can tell if it is safe to cook with.

How Long Does Baking Soda Last?

Baking soda is an ingredient that can last for several years or just a few weeks. Its lifespan depends on its external environment, and how well it is stored. Its storage is a particularly major factor when it comes to its longevity, since it is usually packaged in a fairly flimsy cardboard container.

Unopened containers of baking soda can last two years or longer if they are never opened and stored in a safe, dry cupboard. Once baking soda is opened, it tends to stay potent and adequate for baking for about six months to one year, depending on how well it is stored.

Remember that just because baking soda has expired, and even if it is no longer good for baking, it is still safe to eat.

Steps To Testing If Expired Baking Soda Has Gone Bad

If you are wondering if your expired baking soda is any good, there is good news. You can do a rapid and simple test to see if your baking soda is still fresh enough to bake with. Below is a step-by-step guide to testing your baking soda for freshness.

Step One: Pour a small amount (about 1 teaspoon) of the expired baking soda into a bowl.

Step Two: Add a few drops of lemon juice (or white vinegar if you don’t have lemon juice) to the baking soda.

Step Three: You should notice lots of foaming and bubbling. Baking soda that is still functioning properly reacts to acid. Therefore, if it bubbles, then it should still be safe for baking.

Pro Tip: If it isn’t bubbling, or is barely bubbling, you don’t need to throw it away. You can put it in your fridge to absorb smells or use it for removing stains from clothes. Just don’t use it for baking, as it won’t do its job, and might ruin what you are cooking.

What Can Happen If You Use Expired Baking Soda

It Won’t Get Rid Of Bad Odors

If you have been using baking soda in your fridge, or have left it uncovered in the cupboard, then its absorbing powers may have reached their limit. When you use baking soda for odor control, it usually lasts about three months. Therefore, expired baking soda that has not been properly stored might not work to absorb odors at all.

Your Baked Goods Won’t Leaven Properly

The biggest issue you are likely to run into when you use expired baking soda is your recipes won’t come out correctly. Usually, it is a problem with the leavening or the lack thereof. What should be a fluffy bread might be dense and hard.

This is why it is important to test your baking soda for freshness, or simply use a new container when baking. This is particularly important if you work with expensive ingredients like dark chocolate and fresh vanilla. Wasting these types of ingredients is often expensive.

Your Food Can Come Out Perfectly Normal

Lastly, there is a chance that when you use expired baking soda nothing negative will happen. It can do its job perfectly, and create amazing baked goods. This is because baking soda is good indefinitely. It just loses its strength and potency as time goes on. The better you store and care for your baking soda (and all your baking ingredients for that matter), the longer it will stay fresh and potent.

Four Ways You Help Your Baking Soda Stay Fresh Longer

1. Keep It Away From Acid

If baking soda has one enemy, it isn’t time - it’s acid. Baking soda reacts to acid, not air or even water. This is one of the reasons that it comes in a simple cardboard package instead of a plastic or air-tight container. Still, acid is everywhere in your kitchen.

Make sure you don’t place your baking soda container on a wet surface, as the moisture can have acidic qualities. Always use a fresh, clean, and dry spoon when measuring out your baking soda to avoid acid contamination.

2. Keep The Package Dry

If you decide to keep your baking soda in its original packaging (this is not ideal, but it makes it easy to identify), then make sure you keep the package dry. One very easy way to do this is to keep it in a Ziplock storage bag. This will ensure that your baking soda and its packaging stay dry.

Water itself won’t ruin your baking soda, but if there is any acidity in the water, and it leaks through the packaging, then your baking soda will quickly lose its potency.

3. Place It In A Glass Jar

One of the best ways to help your baking soda last beyond its expiration date is to store it in an airtight container. A glass container is ideal, as it is non-porous, meaning no air or liquid can get in or out.

The important thing to remember when storing your baking soda in a glass container is to label it. You are bound to have many white powdered ingredients in your cupboard, like flour, baking powder, and icing sugar. Make sure each one is labeled so you don’t make a terrible mistake and botch your whole recipe. Keep the jar in a room temperature, dark place, along with your spices.

4. Don’t Open It Until You Need To Use It

Lastly, make sure you only open up a new box of baking soda when you are ready to use it. Many people have several baking soda containers in their homes. It is best to only keep the “active” container (the one you are using) in the cupboard in plain sight.

Keep the unopened backup somewhere less obvious so you don’t open it up by mistake. Remember, once you open your baking soda, the lifespan decreases.

Summing Up Using Baking Soda Beyond Its Expiration Date

Baking soda is a miracle ingredient that can genuinely transform a baked good. Its leavening power can create light, fluffy, and delightful breads and cakes, and is used in all sorts of baking. It is an ingredient that can last a very long time, especially when properly stored, but it loses potency over time.

If you want to use baking soda beyond its expiration date, it is best to test it first to make sure it is still potent. To test your baking soda’s freshness, add a small amount of the product with lemon juice (or vinegar) in a bowl. If it foams and bubbles then, it should be fresh enough to bake with. Remember, even if it isn’t fresh enough to bake with, it might still be used to absorb smells in your refrigerator, or for cleaning.

Related Guides:

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

More by Tom Gaffey