Where does baking soda come from?

In the brief guide, we are going to answer the question ‘where does baking soda come from’ with a detailed analysis of what safety measures are to keep in mind when using it in our daily routine.

Where does baking soda come from?

Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), commonly known as baking soda, exists as a crystalline salt and is naturally found in mineral deposits known as nahcolite.

This remarkably safe and versatile ingredient finds a myriad of applications both in households and industries. Its uses span from being a food additive and medicinal aid to a highly effective cleaning product. 

Its gentle properties and natural qualities have prompted its widespread utilization across various industries. From everyday consumer goods to pharmaceutical applications and beyond. (1, 2)

What are the applications of baking soda?

The versatility of baking soda extends across both domestic and industrial realms, making it an incredibly multifunctional substance. Its widespread uses encompass various domains, serving as a vital food additive, medicinal aid, and effective cleaning agent.

Beyond these common applications, baking soda finds relevance in diverse areas, including its role in creating fireworks, fire extinguishers, fungicides, and pesticides. 

As research progresses, new potential applications continue to emerge, offering opportunities for businesses to improve their environmental sustainability endeavors. (2)

Can baking soda be used for cleaning?

Yes. Baking soda possesses an extensive range of cleaning capabilities, making it an exceptionally versatile and pragmatic choice for a variety of tasks. 

Its primary component, sodium bicarbonate, acts as a potent abrasive agent, akin to soap, effectively combating grime and grease, leaving surfaces gleaming and spotless.

A remarkable quality of baking soda lies in its prowess to eliminate unpleasant odors, both in kitchens and homes. Its alkaline properties enable it to neutralize odors, especially those emanating from acidic substances, creating a refreshed and more pleasant environment.

Additionally, baking soda serves as a safe and non-toxic solution for pest control, efficiently repelling pests and ants within households. This natural alternative provides a reliable method for managing unwanted intruders without resorting to harmful chemicals.

Beyond its exceptional cleaning attributes, baking soda finds practical use in laundry washing. Simply adding baking soda to your laundry can help soften fabric, enhancing the overall texture and feel of clothes for a more enjoyable wearing experience. (2)

Can baking soda be used in cooking?

Yes. Cooking stands as one of the primary realms where baking soda finds its most common application. As a leavening agent for baked goods, it plays a pivotal role in creating light and airy textures in various recipes. 

In chemical leavening, the batter necessitates an acidic catalyst, like yogurt or buttermilk. Once sodium bicarbonate interacts with the acidic component, a simple acid-base reaction ensues, liberating carbon dioxide gas. 

During baking, this gas release causes the batter to expand, resulting in the desired rise and a fluffy consistency in the end product.

Alternatively, even without an acidic ingredient, baking soda can still release small amounts of carbon dioxide through thermal decomposition when subjected to temperatures above 50°C. 

However, this process may impart a characteristic bitter flavor to the dish. Regardless of the method, the gas release during the cooking process significantly influences the density and texture of the prepared food. (2)

How long does baking soda last?

According to the Foodkeeper provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, unopened baking soda should be stored for 18 months. After opening, store at room temperature for 6 months for best quality. (3)

How to determine whether it is still effective?

To determine the potency of your baking soda, a simple acid test can be conducted using substances like vinegar or lemon juice. 

When baking soda reacts with acid, it produces carbon dioxide, resulting in a fizzing and bubbling effect. Follow this easy procedure to assess the baking soda’s suitability for baking purposes:

  • In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.
  • Add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to the powder and mix thoroughly.
  • If the mixture immediately bubbles vigorously, the baking soda is still potent and suitable for baking. However, if you only observe a minimal amount of fizz, the baking soda is no longer suitable for baking but can still be used for cleaning purposes. (4)

How to test baking soda in a lab setting?

Alternatively, in a laboratory setting, you can perform another test:

  • Dissolve 2 grams of baking soda in 50 milliliters of water at room temperature.
  • Stir the solution; if it remains cloudy rather than clear, some of the baking soda’s activity has already been lost.
  • Add two drops of a phenolphthalein solution (1% in ethanol) to the mixture.
  • The baking soda solution should remain colorless; any slight or strong pink coloration indicates increasing activity losses, indicating that more baking soda has converted into sodium carbonate. (4)

Is it possible to get sick from expired baking powder?

The health issues caused by expired baking soda are minimal and generally not harmful. Unlike some other expired substances, baking soda does not contain any toxic components that could lead to sickness.

When ingested in various ways, the gas-producing property of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can have different effects. For individuals with acid reflux, sodium bicarbonate can serve as an antacid, helping to soothe the stomach and alleviate discomfort. (2)

Baking soda is commonly known as a “systemic” antacid due to its unreacted fraction being easily absorbed into the bloodstream, potentially affecting the body’s overall pH. However, its use is limited to short-term relief of indigestion due to the risk of sodium (Na+) overload and systemic alkalosis.

Frequent use of large doses can lead to sodium (Na+) overload, which may result in fluid retention, edema, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and even renal failure.

 As a result, sodium bicarbonate is not recommended for patients on a low-salt diet, as it could exacerbate these conditions. (5)


In the brief guide, we discussed answering the question ‘where does baking soda come from’ with in- depth analysis of what safety measures are to keep in mind when using it in our daily routine.


  1. AGC Chemicals, “Sodium Bicarbonate,” 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.agc-chemicals.com/jp/en/products/detail/index.html?pCode=JP-EN-C010 [Accessed: 18-july-2023]
  2. Alice GravesandKate Qualmann. The Science of Baking Soda. ACS Axial 2018.
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://ask.usda.gov/ Website. Washington, DC. What is the shelf life of baking soda? https://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/data/EN/FoodKeeper-Data.xls 2023.
  4. Tiefenbacher, K. F.  Technology of Minor Ingredients for Wafers and Waffles. Wafer and Waffle, 227–311. 2017.
  5. Shaw, D. H.  Drugs Acting on the Gastrointestinal Tract. Pharmacology and Therapeutics for Dentistry, 404–416. (2017).

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