Does baking soda in refrigerator go bad?

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a versatile household product used for baking, cleaning, deodorizing, and more. When stored properly in an airtight container, baking soda has an indefinite shelf life. However, when left in the refrigerator, condensation and absorbing odors can impact baking soda’s effectiveness over time. Here’s a look at how long baking soda lasts in the fridge and signs it may need to be replaced.

How Long Does Baking Soda Last in the Fridge?

An opened box of baking soda will maintain its effectiveness for approximately 6 months in the refrigerator. After this time, it will gradually lose its potency as a leavening agent and odor absorber. Unopened baking soda can last 2-3 years in the fridge before needing to be replaced.

Baking soda is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. When stored in the relatively humid environment of the refrigerator, baking soda gradually breaks down as it interacts with water molecules in the air. Over time, it loses its distinctive crystalline structure and becomes a gritty powder.

Additionally, baking soda absorbs odors when left in the refrigerator. Food odors attach to the sodium bicarbonate molecules as they circulate through the fridge, diminishing baking soda’s odor-fighting capacity.

Signs Baking Soda Needs Replacing

Here are some signs that indicate baking soda may be past its prime and due for replacement:

  • It’s been over 6 months since you first opened the box of baking soda.
  • The baking soda no longer appears in its crystallized powder form but is instead clumpy or gritty.
  • The baking soda has developed a strong, unpleasant odor, likely from absorbing food smells in the fridge.
  • Recipes leavened with the baking soda don’t rise properly.
  • The baking soda no longer seems effective at absorbing odors in the fridge.

Trust your senses – if the baking soda has an off smell or taste, it’s no longer fresh. Taste a small amount to determine if it still has its normal mild, salty-sour flavor. Any bitter or chemical taste means it’s time to replace it.

Storing Baking Soda in the Fridge

To maximize freshness, store baking soda in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Glass jars or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids work best. Bringing the container to room temperature before opening helps prevent moisture from condensing inside.

Additionally, don’t place baking soda directly on refrigerator shelves. Instead, keep the container in a spot less prone to humidity fluctuations, like a shelf in the door or the crisper drawer. Avoid storing it near uncovered foods that could transfer strong odors.

Uses for Old Baking Soda

Before throwing away baking soda that’s past its prime, consider these alternative uses:

  • Deodorizing carpets – Sprinkle on carpets, let sit briefly, and vacuum up.
  • Cleaning drains – Pour down sink and tub drains to deodorize.
  • Freshening garbage cans – Sprinkle in bottom of garbage cans to control odors.
  • Cleaning combs and hairbrushes – Make a paste with water and scrub over bristles.
  • Polishing silver – Mix with water or lemon juice and rub onto tarnished silver. Rinse and polish dry.
  • Removing refrigerator odors – Place in old socks and leave in fridge overnight to absorb odors.

The abrasive texture of worn-out baking soda makes it ideal for scrubbing. Just avoid using it for baking and cooking once it loses its leavening power.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why put baking soda in the refrigerator?

Baking soda absorbs odors, keeping refrigerated foods tasting fresh. It also neutralizes acids, helping extend the shelf life of produce. An open box in the fridge absorbs lingering odors.

Where should I put baking soda in the fridge?

Keep baking soda on a shelf, crisper drawer or door shelf. Avoid placing it directly on refrigerator walls where exposure to humidity is higher. Store in an airtight container, if possible.

What happens if you eat expired baking soda?

Consuming spoiled baking soda isn’t generally dangerous, but it may cause stomach upset, gas, and bloating. The unpleasant taste usually deters people from eating rancid baking soda. Don’t knowingly use expired baking soda in recipes.

Can old baking soda make you sick?

Fresh baking soda is non-toxic. As it degrades, it can grow mold if exposed to moisture. Consuming moldy baking soda could cause illness. Discard old baking soda growing black, green, or fuzzy mold.

Does baking soda go bad if heated?

Heat doesn’t make baking soda go bad. However, heating baking soda does accelerate the breakdown of the sodium bicarbonate. Heated baking soda loses its leavening ability quicker than baking soda stored at stable, cool temperatures.

The Bottom Line

Baking soda remains effective for approximately 6 months stored in the refrigerator. Look for clumping, grittiness, odor absorption failure and lack of leavening power to determine if replacement is needed. An unopened box lasts up to 3 years refrigerated. To maximize shelf life, store baking soda in an airtight container in a less humid fridge spot. Discard old baking soda or use for non-edible odorous tasks like cleaning and deodorizing.

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