Baking Soda: The Smart Prepper’s Secret Problem Solver

Approx Reading Time: 15 minutes

There are a few staple items that are nearly impossible to produce at home. Baking soda is one of those basic commodities that every smart prepper should keep in stock.

Why should every prepper stock a large supply of baking soda? Baking soda can be used in recipes as a leavening agent, in cleaning products, as a deodorizer, for personal hygiene, medicinally, and the list goes on. Baking soda has very few good substitutes and is not a product that can be made at home.

Now let’s explore what every prepper needs to know about storing and using baking soda.

What is Baking Soda?

Baking soda is a crystalline white salt that is sold in a powder form. It is an alkaline compound that is also known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate. Baking soda reacts with heat or when combined with acidic substances and releases carbon dioxide.

Soda ash, as baking soda was originally known, was developed in 1791 in France. It was first manufactured in the United States in 1846. Although it is relatively new on the scene, it has become an inexpensive, yet valuable, resource.

It is important to note that baking soda and baking powder are different and cannot be used interchangeably.

Baking powder is usually a combination of sodium bicarbonate, calcium acid phosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate or cream of tartar. Both baking soda and baking powder are used in baking. Baking soda is used in recipes that have acidic ingredients while baking powder is used in recipes without acidic ingredients.

Baking soda has mild disinfectant properties and is an effective fungicide.

Shelf-Life of Baking Soda

Storage conditions play a significant role in the actual shelf life of baking soda. According to Arm & Hammer, the official shelf life of baking soda is 3 years. An expiration date is located on the bottom of the container.

In practice, I have found that baking soda is stable and has an indefinite shelf life. It does not usually “go bad” but it is possible for baking soda to gradually lose potency over time.

A quick test to check the potency of your stored baking soda only takes a minute. Either of these methods will work:

  • Mix a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of vinegar. Add a spoonful of baking soda.
  • Place a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a dish and add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.

With either method, if the baking soda is still viable, it will immediately start to fizz and produce healthy bubbles. As it loses potency over time, those bubbles will become less vigorous.

Ideal Storage Conditions for Baking Soda

Baking soda will store indefinitely in an air-tight, moisture-proof container in a cool (40°-70°), dry location. Baking soda loves to absorb moisture and odors which make the storage container critical.

Baking soda can be purchased in a variety of containers, and the type of container it is stored in will impact the actual shelf life of the product.

Cardboard Box

Baking soda stored in cardboard boxes are prone to attract moisture and will only last for a short period of time due to the packaging. To extend the life of these boxes, place them in a sealed plastic bucket to add an additional protective layer against moisture and other environmental factors.

Plastic Pouch

Baking soda stored in original plastic pouches provides an adequate moisture barrier. Short term storage of 1-3 years is fine in this original packaging.

If you plan on storing baking soda in plastic pouches for a long time, it is a good idea to place the plastic pouches inside of a sealed plastic bucket. This adds an additional layer of protection and will help protect the baking soda.

Plastic Bucket

Baking soda originally packaged in a sealed plastic bucket is a good candidate for longer-term food storage. A 1-gallon bucket holds 10 pounds of baking soda. A 5-gallon bucket holds 50 pounds of baking soda.

I prefer to store several 1-gallon buckets instead of the larger bucket. Once a bucket is opened the shelf life is reduced and contamination is possible. I like the convenience of the smaller gallon buckets. You can purchase them here.

Metal #10 Can

Baking soda properly sealed in a #10 can is great in a long term survival food supply. It provides a true oxygen and moisture barrier. A #10 can contains roughly 7.25 pounds of baking soda.

How Much Baking Soda Should I Store?

It is impossible to accurately estimate exactly what your need will be because we don’t know the challenges that you may have to face. I always like to err on the side of too much rather than too little when it comes to staple supplies.

When you are living a basic survival lifestyle where you cook from scratch and make your own cleaning supplies you will find that you use much more baking soda that you do in normal life. Plan ahead and don’t skimp on this inexpensive resource.

We prepared this table to help you think through what your survival baking soda needs may be.

Baking Soda Needs for Survival Food Storage Person/Year
Food Preparation and Cooking
(if baking powder is stored in addition to baking soda)
1 pound
Food Preparation and Cooking
(if no other leavening agent is stored)
3 pounds
Personal Hygiene2 pounds
Medicine and First Aid1 pound
Cleaning and Deodorizing (per household)5 pounds
Miscellaneous Needs1 pound

A one year supply of baking soda for 1 person to use exclusively in baking is approximately 1 pound as long as you are also storing 4 pounds of baking powder per person. If you are solely using baking soda for cooking, a safer estimate is 3 pounds of baking soda per person.

If you plan to use baking soda for baking, cleaning, personal hygiene, medicine, first aid, and other uses, I would recommend storing 10 pounds per person per year.

I look at it this way. Baking soda is inexpensive and is a critical resource. If you store more than you need, baking soda will be a great barter item.

Best Variety of Baking Soda to Store

Make certain that you store pure baking soda without additives. There are very few good substitutes for baking soda.

Prepper Uses for Baking Soda

There are hundreds of uses for baking soda that could be helpful to preppers as they strive to be self-reliant and make the best with the resources that they have. We share only a few that we have found useful in our preparations.

Food Preparation and Cooking

Baking soda is an irreplaceable ingredient when it comes to turning basic stored foods delicious meals.

Soften Older Beans

Simply add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the water when you soak older beans to shorten cooking time, reduce gas, and improve digestion.

Create Incredibly Fluffy Omelets

Create fluffier eggs by just adding ½ teaspoon of baking soda to 3 eggs and whip before turning into them into tasty omelets or scrambled eggs.

Caramelized Onions Quickly

Caramelized onions can be created in a matter of a few minutes if you add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda per pound of sliced onion before sauteeing.

Transform Spaghetti into Ramen

Change spaghetti noodles to Ramen textured noodles by adding 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the water before boiling spaghetti noodles.

Tenderize Meats

Tenderize tough cuts of meat by soaking the meat in a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda in ½ cup water for 15 minutes.

Crispier Fried Foods

Breading fried foods in a batter that includes baking soda and an acid ingredient (think buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar) will create a crispier fried product. It also helps bond the batter to the food a little bit better.

Baking Soda as a Leavening Agent in Baking

Baking soda is used as a quick-acting leavening agent in baking. It helps food to rise as it releases carbon dioxide bubbles. Mixing baking soda with acidic foods such as buttermilk, brown sugar, vinegar or lemon juice increases the release of carbon dioxide.

Baking Soda Substitutes in Baking

There is no real effective substitute for baking soda. It is a basic staple item in your long term survival food storage. The best idea is to make sure that you store plenty in your food stores.

Baking powder can be substituted in some recipes for baking soda at a ratio of about 1 teaspoon baking soda to 3 teaspoons baking powder. It is important to reduce the amount of salt in the recipe. Also, replace acidic liquids (vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk, etc.) in the recipe with non-acidic liquids (milk, water).

1/4 – 1/3 teaspoon baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda = 1/4 teaspoon potassium bicarbonate (low sodium substitute)
1 teaspoon baking soda = 3/4 teaspoon ammonium bicarbonate

Medicinal and First Aid Uses for Baking Soda

Baking soda is a fantastic staple to keep in your medicine cabinet and first aid kit. Check out some of the basic ways baking soda can help.

Heartburn Treatment

Neutralize stomach acid with a cold glass of water that has 1 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in it.

Canker Sore Remedy

Relieve pain and speed up the healing of canker sores by rinsing with a solution of ½ teaspoon baking soda in a cup of warm water once a day. Baking soda can also be applied directly to the sore.

Itchy Skin Relief

A warm bath with 1-2 cups of baking soda can provide relief to itchy skin.

Bug Bite and Bee Sting Relief

Baking soda is a simple effective treatment for bug bites and bee stings. Create a thick paste by mixing baking soda with a little bit of water. Apply to the affected area and allow to dry. Repeat as needed.

Skin Rash and Inflammation Treatment

Many skin rashes and inflammation can be improved with a simple mixture of:

  • 1 part coconut oil and 1 part baking soda, or
  • 1 part baking soda with 3 parts water to create a thin paste. Apply to the infected area daily.

Heat Rash Reduction

Heat rash can be helped with a mixture of baking soda and water that is applied to the affected area. Let the mixture dry and dust off.

Sunburn Treatment

Minor sunburns can be treated and get quick relief by soaking in a cool tub of water with a cup of baking soda added.

Minor Burn Relief

Soothe minor burns with a mixture of baking soda and ice water. Soak a clean cloth in the cold water mixture and apply to the burned area. Continue to reapply until the burn no longer feels hot. This may help reduce the risk of blistering.

Athlete’s Foot Relief

Get relief from athlete’s foot by dusting feet, shoes, and socks with baking soda. Baking soda is an effective antifungal.

Splinter Removal

Tough splinters may be removed a little bit easier with the aid of baking soda. Make a thick paste of baking soda and water and apply to the area. Cover with a bandage for a day then attempt to remove the splinter. It should come out much easier.

Neutralize Hot Pepper Burns

Hot pepper burns can be miserable. Try rubbing a paste of baking soda and water on your hands and allow to dry. Wash well. Repeat if needed. Adding cornstarch to this paste may also be helpful.

Personal Hygiene Uses for Baking Soda

Substitutes for many of your routine hygiene products can be using baking soda as a basic ingredient.

Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoos can come in handy when water is limited. Make a dry shampoo by combining equal parts of baking soda and cornstarch or arrowroot powder or oat flour. Add a few drops of essential oil if desired. Sprinkle on hair roots and work into the hair with your fingers.

Mouthwash

A simple mouthwash can be created by mixing ½ teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of warm water to kill bacteria. Add a drop of peppermint oil for a fresher tasting mouthwash.

Whitening Toothpaste

An effective whitening toothpaste can be made by mixing baking soda and water together to create a thick paste. Store in an airtight container. Adding a few drops of peppermint oil will make it a little more pleasant to use.

Retainers or dentures can be cleaned with this same baking soda paste. Gently scrub the appliance with a soft toothbrush and rinse well.

Face Mask

Create a facial mask by mixing 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon honey and 2 teaspoons baking soda together. Apply to face and let dry.

Deodorant

Make a basic deodorant by mixing equal parts of baking soda and cornstarch together. Apply the powder to armpits to eliminate the smell of sweat.

Hand Deodorizer

Remove strong odors, such as garlic or onion, from hands with a simple mixture of baking soda and water.

Cleaning and Deodorizing with Baking Soda

Baking soda is my go-to ingredient for my homemade household cleaners. That white powder does an incredible job of cleaning my house and eliminating offensive smells.

Air Freshener

Make a basic air freshener by mixing ½ cup baking soda with 15 drops of essential oil. Place the mixture in a container and cover with a woven cloth secured to the top. Shake periodically to renew action.

Laundry Cleaner and Deodorant

Baking soda is an effective addition to your laundry soap. Add ½ cup of baking soda to the washing machine. It will help remove stains and reduce the amount of detergent required.

Emergency Dishwasher Soap Replacement

This tip is from Jennifer Moran, one of our YouTube viewers. When you run out of automatic dishwasher detergent: just add 2-3 drops (no more) of regular dish soap to your dishwasher’s detergent cup. Fill the cup 2/3 of the way with baking soda. Add salt until the cup is nearly full. Run as usual. It works!

Kitchen Cleanser (Soft Scrub Substitute)

Make a kitchen cleanser that you can use like Soft Scrub. All it takes is a simple paste of baking soda and water.

Surface and Carpet Deodorizer

Deodorize and remove offensive odors from carpets and surfaces by sprinkling baking soda on directly on the affected area. Leave for at least 30 minutes or overnight for challenging odors. Vacuum residue and repeat if necessary.

Bathroom Cleaner

Create an effective bathroom cleaner by mixing equal portions of vinegar and Dawn dish detergent in a spray bottle. Spray in shower, tub, and sink and then sprinkle with baking soda. The baking soda causes a bubbling reaction. Leave for 5-10 minutes, scrub, and rinse.

Floor and Tile Cleaner

A simple mixture of ½ cup baking soda with 1 gallon of warm water is a great floor and tile cleaner.

Pot and Pan Miracle Cleaner

Save that scorched pot with baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the pot and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and let cool. Add a little bit of dish detergent and scrub.

Fireplace Soot Cleaner

Clean the soot from fireplace glass. Sprinkle baking soda on a wet cloth and wipe down the glass. Rinse the cloth and repeat. Finally, wipe clean with a clean damp cloth for a sparkling clean finish.

Grill Cleaner

Outdoor grills can be a nightmare to clean. Just takes some baking soda, water, and a scrub brush to the grill to make a tough job easy.

Deodorize Smelly Shoes

Stinky shoes can be easily deodorized by sprinkling baking soda in the bottom of smelly shoes. Let the baking soda work its magic overnight or longer if needed. Discard loose powder before wearing.

Cast Iron Cleaner

Cast iron cookware can be challenging to clean. Not anymore. Simply boil 1 quart of water with 2 tablespoons baking soda for 5 minutes in the cast iron pan. Discard most of the water and scrub well. Rinse, dry and season before storing.

Random Uses for Baking Soda

There are a final few uses for baking soda that are worth mentioning that didn’t fit well in the other categories but are non-the-less important for preppers.

Clean Battery Terminals

Battery terminals can be easily cleaned with baking soda, water, and a toothbrush.

Fire Extinguisher

Baking soda can be used to extinguish small oil and grease fires by smothering them.

Unclog Drains

Unclog drains by pouring ½ cup baking soda down a clogged drain followed by 1 cup of vinegar. Let sit and bubble for 10 minutes. Flush with boiling water. You may need to repeat this process for tough clogs.

Ant and Roach Killer

Take control of ants and roaches by making a bait with equal parts of baking soda and sugar.

Skunk Victim Deodorizer

Create a skunk spray deodorizer in a bathtub of hot water. Add 1 cup lemon juice, ½ cup shampoo, and 1 cup of baking soda and soak. Repeat if needed.

Weed Killer

Baking soda can be used to kill weeds in areas such as in driveway cracks. Just sprinkle on top of the weeds or spray with a little bit of vinegar to accelerate the process.

Stock Up on Baking Soda Today

Now that you clearly understand the incredible benefits that baking soda provides (both today and when life gets a bit more challenging), it is time to stock up!

Baking soda is a simple ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of applications. It has a long shelf life and is easy to store. Baking soda is inexpensive. It is also a basic staple that has no effective substitute and that you simply can’t make yourself. Baking soda is a valuable barter item.

Today is a great day to check exactly how much baking soda you have stored and ensure that you have plenty to meet your needs when disaster strikes.

Thanks for being part of the solution!

Jonathan and Kylene Jones
https://youtu.be/GivTu_qyBl8

Kylene

Kylene Jones is a blogger, content creator, published author, motivational speaker, homesteader, prepper, mother, and grandmother. She practices self-reliance, provident living, and emergency preparedness in her everyday life. She loves working with her husband, Jonathan, and is committed to helping our community be prepared to thrive during the challenges that lie in our future.