Baking soda is a versatile ingredient for cooking and baking, but it’s also an effective cleaning agent. One of its most useful benefits is its ability to chemically neutralize odors rather than mask them. Fridge and freezer baking soda is often used to remove smells while standard baking soda is added to laundry to cut through dirt and grime and freshen clothing.
Over the years, baking soda has made its way into medicine, personal care products like deodorant, bath salts, body powders, and toothpaste, and a wide variety of cleaning products. You can mix it with other simple ingredients to clean your home without harsh chemicals.
So you might wonder: Can I use fridge baking soda to cook? Are all baking soda products the same? Not exactly. Some products have extra ingredients and specific purposes. As you’ll read, it’s best to only cook with food-grade baking soda for a few reasons.
What Is Fridge and Freezer Baking Soda?
As it sounds, fridge and freezer baking soda is a product for your fridge or freezer. It’s an odor-absorbing powder that neutralizes potent smells and keeps your fridge fresh and clean.
Baking soda is a natural substance found in all living things. It’s a base and reacts when it comes into contact with acids. The chemical name for baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and it’s formed when sodium, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules mix. It’s considered a salt and can easily dissolve in water and produce electrolytes with a charge.
Your body naturally makes it to neutralize pH and keep blood acidity in check, but it’s also used in everyday items to neutralize acids. It has many uses. It can be used as a medicine, or as a leavening agent in food preparation, cleaning and deodorizing, and fire extinguishing. It can also preserve personal care products.
Baking soda comes from sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. You can get soda ash in two ways: mining it from nahcolite and trona deposits, or manufacturing it. These natural minerals are taken from ore and refined into soda ash through heating, filtering, and drying processes.
Soda ash is also manufactured by passing ammonia and carbon dioxide through a sodium chloride solution, which is generally a cheaper method. The last steps in both methods are to dissolve soda ash in water, bubble carbon dioxide through to form sodium bicarbonate, and then separate the crystals by grade. These grades range from powder, to fine, to large, coarse crystals.
Depending on the use, baking soda has to meet specific qualifications. Some liquid or slurry forms are sold for industrial or medical uses. Food-grade baking soda is finer grades and has to meet strict quality control measures. Fridge and freezer baking soda is a coarser grade of sodium bicarbonate.
How Is Fridge-N-Freezer Baking Soda Different From Regular Baking Soda?
Fridge-N-Freezer baking soda and food-grade baking soda are simply sodium bicarbonate. They’re both pure and natural products with no other ingredients. The difference between them is the grade: food-grade baking soda is a fine powder while fridge baking soda is a coarser salt with larger crystals.
What Is Fridge-N-Freezer Baking Soda Used For?
Baking soda is an excellent way to keep your refrigerator and freezer fresh, and is a safe alternative to toxic chemicals. It helps remove odors, keeps your fridge or freezer clean, and stops your fresh food from taking on weird smells.
So if it’s used in the fridge, does baking soda need to be refrigerated? Despite how it sounds, it doesn’t. Baking soda is shelf-stable at room temperature and can last at least 2 years in an air-tight container.
Unpleasant Odor and Food Odor Eliminator
Fridge-N-Freezer baking soda is an odor-absorbing powder. You can use it to get rid of nasty smells in your fridge without using harsh chemicals.
Smells come from volatile compounds that stimulate your smell receptors, and different compounds produce a wide variety of smells. In the fridge specifically, you get funky smells as foods spoil. Bacteria and fungi, or mold, invade foods, and as they grow, they release volatile compounds, which are sometimes quite putrid.
Additionally, when food items are exposed to oxygen, it triggers a chain of chemical reactions with proteins, fatty acids, and lipids. These reactions create new compounds that can make you sick and cause an unpleasant smell.
This is where baking soda is helpful. Baking soda is a base, so it reacts with acids and creates a new neutral, odor-free sodium salt. For example, when butter turns rancid, it produces butyric acid, which smells bad. Baking soda reacts with butyric acid to make sodium butyrate, which isn’t volatile so it doesn’t have a smell.
The baking soda trick is that it doesn’t just mask the smells with other fragrance compounds. Instead, it eliminates unpleasant smells by neutralizing compounds. For the best results, you should empty any spoiled food from your fridge, wash out your fridge, and then deodorize it with baking soda.
Sometimes it works best to spread it on a larger area rather than opening a corner of a baking soda box. Take a small plate and sprinkle some loose baking soda until you cover the plate. Then place the plate in the back corner of your fridge or your freezer.
For tough smells, wash your fridge or freezer with a bleach solution to kill any lingering bacteria, mold, or mildew. Once you’ve done that, wash it down with hydrogen peroxide to get rid of the bleach smell. Then rinse with a baking soda and water solution and leave a plate of baking soda inside.
Keeps Fridge Clean and Fresh Smelling
You can also use fridge and freezer baking soda as a cleaner. It’s a mild alkaline cleaning agent, so it helps dissolve dirt and grease. You can combine it with vinegar, which is an acid, and it will react to break down grime.
Baking soda is also abrasive, so you can use it as a mild scouring powder to lift dirt. Simply sprinkle some on a damp sponge and start scrubbing. You might want to wear gloves so it doesn’t get into any cuts or irritate your skin.
For tough grime or grease that won’t come clean, use baking soda as an overnight soak. Sprinkle a generous amount over the dirty area and spray enough water over it to dampen the baking soda without fully soaking it. Repeat the process a few more times before going to bed.
The soda will react overnight and dissolve the grease and dirt, and you should be able to scoop it out in the morning. Rinse the fridge or freezer out with a sponge and remove any residue.
Once you’ve scrubbed your fridge, you can use baking soda to keep it fresh with a crisp smell. Open the corner of a box or put some in a small plastic container or plate and store it in the back of your fridge.
Baking soda is an odor absorber, so it will also help with everyday food smells. It’s especially helpful if you’re storing freshly cut onions, fish, or other overpowering foods.
Keeps Food Fresh
Strong smells can seep into other foods in your fridge. Some foods, like garlic and onions, seem to transfer smell and taste to other items even if you’re vigilant about covering them and storing them in a container. Open and exposed foods and items like milk, cheese, butter, and eggs are most likely to take on these smells.
Baking soda can keep your groceries fresh. It absorbs and neutralizes odors so that your other food won’t. Simply open a box and leave it on the top shelf of your fridge.
Is Fridge and Freezer Baking Soda Edible?
Fridge and freezer baking soda isn’t edible. While it’s usually plain sodium bicarbonate and doesn’t contain fragrance or other ingredients, it might not be food-grade. If it doesn’t say “for baking” or “for cooking” on it, don’t use it in food.
Additionally, fridge baking soda isn’t the best choice for cooking or baking because of its coarser crystals. Larger crystals don’t dissolve as well as fine powder, especially in water-based doughs or foods. Using the wrong grade can leave baking soda specks in your food and a stronger soda taste.
An open fridge box or baking soda from your pantry isn’t edible after you use it in the fridge, either. When you add baking soda to a solution, it reacts with acid and releases carbon dioxide. If you put used fridge baking soda into your food, it will react and could release the acids and odors absorbed from your smelly fridge. The result could be a very unpleasant cookie or dish.
Can you use fridge and freezer baking soda for baking? It’s generally not recommended.
What Is Food-Grade Baking Soda Used For?
Baking soda in the baking aisle of the grocery store is pure, food-grade sodium bicarbonate. It’s a fine powder and used for cooking, baking, home remedies, and personal care.
You might commonly think of baking soda for baking, but it has some helpful uses for cooking, too. One ingenious baking soda trick is to cook your beans and legumes in sodium bicarbonate, which helps lower gassiness.
Beans are rich in sugars called oligosaccharides, which your body doesn’t break down. These sugars pass undigested through your gut where your bacteria feed on them and produce gas as a byproduct, making you bloated and gassy. An older study from the 1980s showed that soaking beans in baking soda lowered the amount of sugar in the bean, leading to less gas.
To enjoy beans without fearing the side effects add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 4 quarts of water and cook your beans.
Boiling beans in baking soda also makes them cook faster. The baking soda dissolves into sodium and bicarbonate in water. The extra sodium weakens and breaks down the pectin in beans and speeds up cooking time. You can cut the cooking time of beans in half. Simply add 1 teaspoon per cup of dry beans to your cooking water.
You can also parboil potatoes with baking soda for extra-crispy potatoes. Baking soda changes the pH of the water and affects the pectin, increasing the starch on the surface of your potatoes and the crispness. For an added crunch, leave the skins on and boil them for 15 to 20 minutes. Then roast them on a pan in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes.
Food-grade baking soda is a leavening agent and helps breads and baked goods rise. It reacts with acids in your recipe and releases carbon dioxide gas as bubbles. These bubbles become trapped in the dough and cause it to rise, creating a fluffy treat. Without baking soda, your cookies and cakes would fall flat.
For baking soda to work, you need both an acid component, like buttermilk, yogurt, lemon juice, or molasses, and some heat. The reaction starts right away, but the combination releases more carbon dioxide and you get a lighter and airy treat. If you don’t have an acid, the baking soda will still work with some heat, but it won’t release as much gas. Your cake will be flatter and might have a bitter taste.
So, can I use fridge baking soda for baking? While they’re technically the same thing, it’s generally not recommended. You want the fine, food-grade baking soda powder that will fully dissolve in your baked goods. Otherwise, you might have baking soda flecks and an unpleasant dish.
Various Uses Outside the Kitchen
You can use baking soda as a home remedy for heartburn, and as a natural toothpaste and mouthwash. Because you ingest these products, make sure you use pure, food-grade baking soda.
Sodium bicarbonate is the active ingredient in antacid medicines. The baking soda neutralizes stomach acid, which temporarily lowers the amount of acid and helps relieve heartburn symptoms. You can make a simple home remedy of baking soda in water for similar effects. Add half a teaspoon of baking soda to half a cup of water and drink it down for quick but temporary relief.
Baking soda is also an ingredient in many kinds of toothpaste. It’s a gentle abrasive, so it polishes your teeth without scratching. You can make a paste with some baking soda and a little water and use it to brush your teeth.
You can use baking soda in water as a mouthwash to cleanse and freshen your mouth and breath. Bacteria produce volatile compounds that cause bad breath. The sodium bicarbonate acts as a mild antiseptic, so it can prevent bacteria from growing. It also neutralizes acids, which break down enamel and cause damage.
Is Normal Baking Soda the Same as Baking Powder?
Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents used in baking, but they have different ingredients and slightly different actions. Where baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate, baking powder is sodium bicarbonate plus a dry acid. It usually contains baking soda, cornstarch, and cream of tartar.
Baking soda needs an acid plus a liquid to start a reaction. Once you have those ingredients, it will react right away, which makes it a good choice for quick bread recipes and cookies or cakes.
Baking powder already has the acid added and comes in two types: single acting and double acting. Single-acting baking powder has sodium bicarbonate plus one acid. As soon as you add a liquid, it will begin to react.
Double-acting baking powder has two acids, so it reacts in phases. Once when you add liquid and then again when you expose the acid to heat. These phases extend your rising time and create more bubbles, making your cake or bread fluffier.
Important Fridge-N-Freezer Baking Soda Tips
Baking soda is easy to use, but there are a few things to consider, like other ingredients, box size, and when to change your box.
Review the Product Details and Ingredient List
You’ll find what seems like many types of baking soda with confusing labels. Most of the time, these products are plain sodium bicarbonate, and the variety of labels and uses is because of the grade and classification. However, some products have extra ingredients.
Baking soda labeled as “pure baking soda for baking” is for food use and you’ll find it in the grocery or baking section. Baking soda products in the cleaning and laundry sections include carpet deodorizers, kitty litter fresheners, laundry boosters, or pool cleaners. These have ingredients you don’t want in your fridge, like fragrances, detergents, lubricants, or hydrogen peroxide.
Look for the Fridge-N-Freezer label and read the ingredients. It should only contain sodium bicarbonate.
Get the Right Sized Product for Your Fridge
You can buy large boxes of baking soda, which are a good option if you’re deep cleaning a dirty fridge or a freezer. However, if you only need to deodorize and freshen your fridge, a large box is probably unnecessary.
You’ll want to change your box often, so buying a smaller box is more practical and affordable. It will also fit better in smaller apartment-size or mini-fridges.
Prevent Messes With a Spill-Proof Package
If you’re in a pinch, you can put a little baking soda in a reusable container and set it in the back of your fridge or the door. However, it’s bound to get jostled around and tip over at some point.
Save yourself the headache and choose a box with a spill-proof design. These usually have one tab at the top or a tab on the front and back that you can open. They’re covered in a fine cloth that allows air to flow through, but won’t spill any baking soda if it topples over.
Use Your Product for a Reasonable Time Period
Baking soda doesn’t go bad, but it can lose its potency. It can become less effective the longer you have it in your fridge and the more smells it absorbs. Treat baking soda like food and use it while it’s fresh.
A good rule of thumb is to keep an unopened box for 18 months to 2 years and change an opened box every 3 to 6 months. Write the opening date on the box, so you can track when to swap it. You might want to change it sooner, though.
If you notice nasty smells coming back, it’s time to get a new box and refresh your fridge or freezer. Don’t forget to clean out any old or spoiled foods that are causing the smell and thoroughly wash your fridge every time you put in fresh groceries.
When you’re ready to switch boxes, you can dispose of your old baking soda in the garbage, or you can reuse it in a few ways. Pour the baking soda down the sink and add boiling or hot water to clean and freshen your drains. You can also give it to your kids for a fun volcano experiment.
Use Product Correctly to Prevent Unwanted Chemical Reactions
You most likely have a few naturally acidic liquids in your fridge, like lemon juice or buttermilk. If you have a spill or, for some reason, baking soda comes into contact with these liquids, you could end up with a big, bubbling mess to clean up.
Keep your box in a clean and dry area of your fridge away from acids and liquids, and use a spill-proof design to prevent spills and reactions in the fridge. Always store food in containers with tight-fitting lids and put your fruits and vegetables in the crisper. This will help prevent food spoilage, but also unwanted messes.
Eliminate Bad Odors Now With Fridge and Freezer Baking Soda
All it takes is one bad bag of lettuce, a fresh onion, or last night’s fish to stink up your fridge, and the freezer is no better. Mold and mildew can quickly take up residence and cause nasty smells. With baking soda, you can easily get rid of odors while keeping your fridge crisp and your groceries fresher for longer. For best results, don’t cook or bake with fridge and freezer baking soda.
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