How to test Baking Powder and Baking Soda for Freshness

Baking powder and baking soda are pantry ingredients that don’t always have a high turnover. If you bake irregularly, chances are good that you’ll have that box of baking soda on the shelf for a very long time. Even if you bake regularly, it takes a while for a container of baking powder to get used up – not to mention that it is easy to lose a partially used container in the back of a crowded pantry.

Chemical leaveners, like baking powder and baking soda, can lose their potency over time. This is especially true when they are not stored in airtight containers. Impotent baking powder or baking soda can be the cause the cause of flat cakes, dense cookies and baked goods that simply don’t rise as much as they should. Fortunately, there is a very simple test that you can do to see if that nearly-forgotten box of baking soda is still good enough to bake with. In fact, try this test with fresh baking powder and baking soda so you’ll know what to look for in the future:


To test Baking Soda:

Put a few tablespoons of white vinegar into a small bowl and add a teaspoon of baking soda. It should bubble up furiously, and the foaming should take several moments to subside. The more bubbles, the more potent the baking soda. If there is no reaction, or you only end up with a handful of small bubbles, you need to replace your baking soda.


To test Baking Powder:

Put a few tablespoons of warm water (warm tap water is fine, but cold water is not) into a small bowl and add a teaspoon of baking powder. The mixture should make a fizzing noise and, after a moment, the baking powder will begin to fizz and the water will become very cloudy with tiny bubbles. The more bubbles, the fresher the baking powder. Baking powder reacts with liquids and heat, but does not react as well with cold water (even fresh powder won’t fizz much in ice water), so do not use it for this test.

7 thoughts on “How to test Baking Powder and Baking Soda for Freshness
7 Replies
  • salam, pls what is the differnet between baking soda and baking powder, and then the different between instant yeast and active dry yeast and may be others. thanks

    • W/Salaam, baking soda and powder are different, the chemical differences is a bit too complicated for me to explain but the two should not be substituted. As for yeasts, refer to this note. Yeast

    • Baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are different names for the same thing;They aren’t interchangeable, but bicarbonate of soda and baking powder are both leavening agents. When included in a batter, the leavening agent causes air bubbles to expand when cooked – causing it to ‘rise’.

      Bicarbonate of soda is a pure leavening agent. It needs to be mixed with moisture and an acidic ingredient for the necessary chemical reaction to take place to make food rise. Because it needs an acid to create the rising quality, it is often used in recipes where there is already an acidic ingredient present, such as lemon juice, chocolate, buttermilk or honey.

      Baking powder, which contains bicarbonate of soda, comes pre-mixed with the acidic ingredient for you – so all you need to add is the moisture. The acidic ingredient most often used in baking powder is cream of tartar. You can make your own baking powder: simply mix two parts cream of tartar with one part bicarbonate of soda. Baking powder has a neutral taste and is often used in recipes that have other neutral-tasting ingredients, such as milk. Now I think it will clear to everyone.
      So, Cheers

  • I smiled like silly doing
    I smiled like silly doing both the tests as the result was positive.
    Its funny how small things like this make you happy and this of course is a very valuable and helpful piece of tip. Thanks.

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