Baking soda is a common ingredient in baking, as well as a handy household cleaner. But can baking soda go bad? In short, yes! Baking soda has a limited shelf life, and its effectiveness diminishes within six months of opening the package. However, if left unopened, it can last up to three years.
To make your baking soda last longer, consider transferring it to a sealed container and storing it in your pantry or cabinet. Freezing it can also slow down its potency loss if you don’t use it regularly.
Determining if baking soda has gone bad is not as straightforward as checking for a strange color or odor because it remains safe to use beyond its expiration date. When it “goes bad,” it merely means it’s become less effective. To test its freshness, sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda into a bowl of vinegar. If it fizzes, it’s still good to use.
Baking soda has a multitude of uses beyond baking and preserving its shelf life. Here are some practical ways to use it:
- Natural Cleaning: Baking soda is a powerful cleaner and deodorizer. You can use it for tasks such as cleaning a dishwasher, polishing silver, or freshening up a mattress.
- Produce Cleaner: Create a mixture of about a teaspoon of baking soda in four cups of water to clean your fruits and vegetables. Soak them in the solution for 15 minutes to remove dirt, pesticides, and contaminants.
- Unclogging Drains: Combine baking soda with distilled vinegar and hot water to clear a sluggish drain effectively.
- Pool Maintenance: Baking soda can help balance pool chemicals by raising the pH and alkalinity levels. Keep in mind that you’ll need a substantial amount for this purpose, approximately 1.5 pounds per 10,000 gallons of pool water.
- Deodorizing: Baking soda is a natural deodorizer. Sprinkle it in garbage cans, smelly shoes, the garbage disposal, or on a musty rug (let it sit for an hour or two before vacuuming).
- First Aid: Baking soda serves various medicinal purposes, making it a useful addition to your first aid kit.
- Bee Stings and Bug Bites: Mix a quarter cup of baking soda with two teaspoons of water to create a paste. Apply it frequently to reduce inflammation.
- Poison Ivy: The same paste can help alleviate swelling and itching from poison ivy. Alternatively, soak in a bath with lukewarm water and baking soda.
- Acid Reflux or Heartburn: Mix half a teaspoon of baking soda into half a cup of water for an easily accessible antacid.
- Sunburn: Add a few ounces of baking soda to a lukewarm bath to soothe sunburn and reduce inflammation.