What Is Baking Powder?

Table of Contents

It is a chemical leavening agent that raises baked goods. The mixture comprises baking soda known as sodium bicarbonate, and a dry acid, such as cream of tartar, sodium aluminum sulfate, and monocalcium phosphate.[1]

Since baking soda is dry, it must be combined with liquids to react. Whenever it is combined with liquids, it undergoes various decomposition reactions, including the formation of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and, sometimes ammonia. These decomposition reactions cause bubbles, which cause the mixture to rise and expand.[2]

What Does Baking Powder Taste Like?

There is a slight bitterness and saltiness to the taste. There is no particular taste if the right amount is used in the recipe. However, adding too much can give the dish a bitter, salty taste.

How Long Does Baking Powder Last?

Baking powder loses its effectiveness over time. Baking powder in an unopened container remains potent for 24 months, but if it has been opened, it must be replaced every three to six months, depending on how much it was exposed to air and humidity. A baking powder contains both an acid and a base, which reacts with moisture.[5]

How to Test the Baking Powder Potency?

Potency can be determined with a quick test. Stir 1 teaspoon into 1/3 cup of warm water. If bubbles appear within 10 to 15 seconds, it is fine to use. If the powder doesn’t react, it has lost its leavening power.[5]

water bubbling indicate a good baking powder potency

How to Store Baking Powder?

It is best to store baking powder in a dry cupboard away from the stove, dishwasher, sink, or other areas where there may be moisture. Humidity and moisture will cause baking powder to react.


  1. Baking powder on Wiki.
  2. Chung, F.H.Y. “Bakery Processes, Chemical Leavening Agents.” Wiley Online Library. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 4 December 2000.
  3. Matz, Samuel A. (1992). Bakery Technology and Engineering(3 ed.). Springer. p. 54.
  4. Davidson, Alan; Saberi, Helen; Jaine, Tom; Davidson, Jane L. (2014). The Oxford Companion to Food (2nd ed.).
  5. Baking Powder.” What’s Cooking America. 15 December 2016.
  6. US Food and Drug Administration. “CFR – Code of Federal Regulations 21CFR182.1.” 1 April 2016.

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