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Prepping is all about planning ahead, and a key part of this is ensuring that the supplies and equipment that you store have multiple uses and redundancies, not only to save on space but to maximize how useful your supplies are in a real emergency situation.
Being able to rely on multiple sources of information, food, power, water and other essentials such as chemicals, medical equipment is critically important for bolstering your chances of surviving effectively when SHTF.
One of the most reliable and overlooked prepping supplies you may not have even considered is baking soda.
This humble chemical has a range of weird and wonderful uses and is pretty much the ultimate prepping solution.
While it may not be purpose-made for any one of its many uses, in a pinch baking soda can help you prepare food, clean, treat medical issues and a host of other important survival uses, despite the fact that most preppers will see it more as a luxury for baking than anything else.
In this guide, we’re going to look at just how flexible and effective baking soda is, as well as how long it lasts, how to store it effectively, and the best types available so you can make sure you stretch your baking soda to the max and get as much use out of it as possible.
We’ve also compiled a list of some of the best uses for baking soda, to prove beyond any doubt just how useful it is, and to give you some ideas and reminders of some key supplies you may have forgotten or niche needs that baking soda can be used to handle.
But first, let’s establish what baking soda actually is, and what makes this humble baking product kind of badass…
What Is Baking Soda?
Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a chemical compound that has the formula NaHCO3, and is a salt that is crystalline, white, solid, and soluble in water. It is often available in a very fine powder form and is found fairly widely in nature at natural mineral springs.
It is one of the best known and widely used kitchens and household products in the world and is commonly used for various purposes from baking to cleaning, however it has many additional uses.
It was first manufactured in the US in 1846, and there have been many brands that have produced the product since, under various names and for various uses.
It is inexpensive despite its utility, making it a great supply for preppers to use, however, don’t get it confused with baking powder, as this is a different product and has some key differences.
For example, baking powder isn’t just sodium bicarbonate, but also includes additional ingredients such as calcium acid phosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, or cream of tartar and isn’t suitable for use in the same general way as baking soda.
Baking soda has some disinfectant capabilities and is also a fairly effective anti-fungal treatment, meaning it has many uses that are both practical and suitable for emergency situations.
How Long Does Baking Soda Last?
Baking soda lasts for a considerable amount of time, with big brands such as Arm and Hammer suggesting their version of baking soda can officially last for 3 years, however as with most things storage conditions can play a huge role in how effectively something will last.
Baking soda generally doesn’t ‘go bad’ as the salt inside it tends to discourage the growth of fungus and the like, however, baking soda can lose potency over time, and this is the main issue with storing this product for extended periods.
The best thing to do is to rotate out your supplies and ensure that any supplies which are starting to potentially lose their potency are used in general day-to-day household tasks and replaced with a fresher version of the product for storage which allows you to always keep a long term supply.
It’s also a good idea to test your baking soda to make sure it is still potent, and this is a relatively simple process.
Mix a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of vinegar and add a spoonful of baking soda or place a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a dish and add a quarter teaspoon of baking soda.
With either of these tests, you can tell if the baking soda is still functioning as expected, as it will immediately begin to fizz and produce bubbles as the chemicals react.
As the potency decreases over time, the bubbles and fizz will become less excited, and eventually, there will be no fizz at all as the baking soda becomes totally expired. This can take many years, however, so it’s not likely that this becomes a serious long-term issue.
Best Storage Conditions
The best storage conditions for baking soda are ideally an air-tight, water-tight container stored in a cool dry environment.
Baking soda loses its potency as it absorbs natural moisture from the air or odors, so using these techniques can massively reduce the process of expiration and make your baking soda last longer, or almost indefinitely.
It can be purchased in various sizes and containers, but you should consider using a sealed container especially when you’ve opened the original container, as these original containers are usually cheap and unsuitable for safe long-term storage.
Plastic pouches work quite well and pack down nicely for saving space, while plastic buckets with airtight lids and metal cans provide the best seal and longevity. Look at your climate and your local conditions as well as the space you have available to decide how best to store your supplies.
How Much Should I Store?
One of the biggest challenges for preppers is to determine how much of something should be stockpiled. This goes from bullets to bandages, from food to fuel, and space is finite so it’s very difficult to balance everything out correctly.
For staple supplies and things that have various practical uses, a larger stockpile is generally advisable due to the versatility of the product, but it’s largely a matter of personal preference.
It’s also likely that you will use far more of these supplies than during normal life, so storing extra and erring on the side of caution is likely for the best.
Take a look at these recommendations for a rough idea of how much baking soda you need to store.
- Food prep and cooking (if you also have a separate store of baking powder) – 1lb per person, per year
- Food prep and cooking (with no other leavening agents stockpiled) – 3lbs per person, per year
- Personal hygiene – 2lbs per person, per year
- Medicine and first aid – 1lb per person, per year
- Cleaning and deodorizing (per household) – 5lbs per year
- Miscellaneous – 1lb per person per year
As you can see, just for a single person during SHTF a lot of baking soda can be used, but this is because it fulfills so many needs and does so many jobs.
This means you should keep a significant amount of baking soda stockpiled and correctly stored.
Generally, at least 10lbs per person per year is the minimum you should be looking for, with some redundancy ideally. Luckily it’s relatively inexpensive, so while it is indispensable it is also easy to keep stocks up, for now at least!
Best Type Of Baking Soda To Store?
Baking soda comes in many different varieties and brands, and some have additives and other things you don’t want in your baking soda.
Look for versions that are pure or use as few additives as possible to ensure that you have the longest-lasting and most flexible version of baking soda available.
The Best Uses For Baking Soda When SHTF
Preppers will be able to make use of baking soda in a variety of ways and these will be incredibly helpful for people who want to be totally self-sustaining and able to work with a limited number of resources to maintain a good quality of life.
In this section, we’re going to look at some of the best uses for baking soda so you can extract the absolute maximum out of your supplies.
Food Preparation And Cooking
The first and most obvious use for baking soda is in food preparation, from baking to adding flavor to other meals which may not be tasty after being stored for a long time.
Baking soda can be used to tenderize meat by soaking the meat in a teaspoon of baking soda and a cup of water for around 20 minutes, making the beat much more flavorful and giving it a much more palatable texture which can really raise morale and make meals much more enjoyable.
Use For Baking
Of course, the primary use of baking soda is as a leavening agent for baking, and if you have the ingredients this will allow you to make all sorts of foods during a survival situation or to prepare foods for storage.
Soften Up Old Beans
Old beans can be a little hard and nasty after very long storage periods, but this can be resolved by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water in which you soak your beans, which will not only soften them up but shorten the cooking time requires saving fuel and energy and reducing the digestion issues that beans can sometimes cause, particularly after extended periods of eating them.
Create Fluffier Omelets
Eggs are a staple renewable resource for most preppers who keep chickens and being able to make a nice fluffy omelet can really raise morale and make your eggs go further.
Aff a half teaspoon of baking soda to 3 or 4 eggs to make your food much lighter and more textured.
Turn Spaghetti Into Ramen
Spaghetti noodles are very widely available and easily stored making them a common choice among preppers, however, they can get a little tiresome after repetitive eating.
Using baking soda you can change their texture by adding a teaspoon to the water before boiling, making them taste and feel a little different and keeping your appetite up.
Improve Fried Food
If you do a lot of frying, baking soda can create a crispier end product, particularly if used with lemon juice and it also helps batter stick to your food better if you’re using a deep fryer.
Caramelize Onions More Quickly
Caramelized onions are delicious and nutritious, and you can make them much faster by adding some baking soda before sauteeing. Use a quarter teaspoon of baking soda to save a little fuel and add a little flavor!
Substitutes For Baking Soda (In Baking)
If you’ve run out of baking powder, baking soda can still be used in place of it, meaning you will still be able to make leavened goods as long as you still have baking soda left to use.
Personal Hygiene Applications For Baking Soda
Baking soda can also be used for personal hygiene purposes, and there are a surprising number of uses such as;
Dry shampoo is very useful in a limited water scenario, and you can make this by combining equal amounts of baking soda and cornstarch or oat flour and sprinkling on your hair before massaging into the roots to help fight grease and keep your skin and head healthy.
This can make you feel and smell better and prevent issues of cleanliness which can eventually affect your health.
A surprisingly effective whitening toothpaste can be used by mixing in baking soda and water to make a paste suitable for brushing your teeth.
It may not be as pleasant as normal toothpaste but it does the job should you run out, and you can also use it to clean dentures or retainers by brushing them with this paste.
Similarly, mouthwash can be created by mixing a half teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of warm water and rinsing.
If you’re wanting to clean your face but don’t have too much water to spare, create a face mask by using 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, applying to the face, and allowing it to dry.
Baking soda has deodorizing properties meaning it can be mixed with cornstarch similar to dry shampoo and used to clean smelly areas of your body without wasting water.
Medicinal and First Aid Applications Of Baking Soda
Medical care is a real concern when SHTF, so being able to provide for yourself as much as possible is critical, and preventing issues can save a lot of pain and suffering.
Baking soda has many applications in a medical scenario such as;
Bug bite And Sting Relief
The disinfecting and anti-inflammatory nature of baking soda makes it ideal for treating stings and bites. Simply create a paste with a little water and apply it to the affected area.
Treat Inflammation And Rashes
Similar to bug bites and stings, various rashes and outbreaks can be contained or reduced by using a paste of baking soda and water.
Sunburn is very discomforting, but using some baking soda in a tub of cool water can provide relief to sunburn victims and help reduce pain and swelling.
Treat Heat Rash
Heat rash is very unpleasant, but can be treated by mixing baking soda and water and leaving it on the skin to dry.
Cankers are painful, but you can help reduce the pain and accelerate healing by rinsing with a solution of baking soda and warm water daily. It can also be applied directly to the canker as required.
Treat Minor Burns
Minor burns can be treated too, simply mix some baking soda and ice water and soak a soft cloth in this solution and apply to the affected area. Continue to apply until the burn feels cool to the touch.
Another type of burn you can treat is heartburn, by neutralizing stomach acid with a cup of water and a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved into it.
Treat Athlete’s Foot
As mentioned earlier, baking soda has good antifungal properties and can give relief if you dust your shoes and socks with some.
Help Remove Splinters
Splinters can be made easier to remove by using baking soda, just create a thick paste with some water and apply it to the area and leave for a day, then try to remove the following day and it should be a lot easier as well as helping prevent infection.
Cleaning And Other Domestic Uses
Even though the world may have ended, a good domestic cleaning routine is still required to keep you and your family safe and healthy. Abandoning these routines can lead to sickness and make things very difficult, so use baking soda to keep everything clean and tidy.
Baking soda can be added to your washing machine safely or your washbowl, and works well with laundry detergent to remove stains, and helps reduce the amount of detergent needed.
You can use baking soda to clean various surfaces and utensils quite effectively.
The inescapable task of washing dishes can be made easier with baking soda as it loosens particles and helps remove filth from your kitchen utensils and pots.
Baking soda has known deodorant properties so it can be used to freshen the air and make your shelter smell a little more pleasant.
Mix some vinegar and baking soda with some detergent water and spray it onto surfaces to keep everything clean and remove harmful germs and bacteria, rinsing after 5/10 mins.
If you’re grilling a lot to heat your meat and other foods, keeping the grill clean can be difficult. Use baking soda to make this process much easier by adding some water and scrubbing.
Deodorant For Shoes And Other Clothing
Much like how it can be used to prevent athletes’ feet and deodorize the air in your shelter, it can help make your smelly boots and old clothing or bedding feel much fresher which can really help with morale.
Random Additional Uses For Baking Soda
Outside of the main uses for baking soda, there are additional random uses that you may not have considered, but these really show just how versatile this product is and allow you to use it in an emergency or for other random uses you may have overlooked.
Emergency Fire Extinguisher
Baking soda can be used to extinguish small grease fires by smothering the flames and killing the fire’s access to air, however, this should only be done in a real emergency as it will take a lot of your supply to effectively stop a fire.
Using up your baking soda is much better than burning down your shelter or risking your family’s lives, however!
Clogged drains can be smelly and potentially unsanitary, which can open the door to disease and other nasties that can seriously affect your survival chances and quality of life.
Use some baking soda, around half a cup, mixed with a cup of vinegar, and pour it into the clogged drain. Allow this to sit for around 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with boiled water.
Use some vinegar and baking soda to kill annoying weeds, but take care not to use this technique near crops or on your vegetable patch as this can damage your soil and your other plant life which you’re relying on for long-term food supplies.
Use in very small amounts directly on the weeds, ideally away from other important crops and plant life.
Ants and roaches can be deterred by baiting them with baking soda and vinegar, keeping you safe from a potential morale-sapping infestation.
Batteries are used extensively during survival scenarios, in shelters, as well as in vehicles.
Keep your battery terminals clean and well maintained by using some baking soda, some water, and a toothbrush to remove debris and grime. Just remember to have everything turned OFF before putting water on your electrical connections!
Baking soda is incredibly versatile and has an impressive list of uses that make it the preppers dream supply, as it can be used to maintain your health, feed yourself, treat wounds as well as serve as an emergency resource for a host of unlikely or remote possibilities.
Keep a good supply of baking soda available and stored at all times, and ensure that you have plenty as this stuff is versatile and you will find yourself relying on it a lot.
The beauty of baking soda is that right now it’s very cheap and widely available so you can stock up and rotate out expiring batches very easily, safely, and without bankrupting yourself, allowing you to take advantage and put away enough to keep you and your family safe for as long as you need.
Observing proper storage is critical to extending the lifespan of your supplies, so pay attention to this and make sure to only purchase pure baking soda with as few additives as possible to prevent future issues with its flexibility.
This humble supply is one of the most useful things a prepper can keep on hand, and as long as you know how to use it properly you can stretch it very far and make your survival much more pleasant and safe by using it to its fullest potential.
We recommend writing down some of these ideas so that if you lose access to the internet you can still use the ideas in this article, as well as use them as a reminder of what situations can occur if SHTF.