Is Baking Soda Vegan? (You’d Be Surprised!) | Choosing Nutrition (2022)

Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda in the States, is a leavening agent. A leavening agent is anything that is used in a batter or a dough to make it rise. Although sodium bicarbonate is a natural substance, most baking sodas are chemically processed. Sodium bicarbonate is mined from ore and then heated until it turns into soda ash. This is then combined with carbon dioxide to make the chemically-produced baking soda.

Baking soda is a vegan-friendly product, as a substance itself. It is not derived from any animal source, and it contains no meat, dairy, or eggs. However, there is some debate about whether it can truly be considered vegan because many of the well-known brands of baking soda, such as Arm & Hammer, are tested on animals.

In this article, we’ll talk more about the brand of baking soda which is tested on animals, and provide you with some alternative brands which are manufactured without animal testing. We’ll compare the ingredients in these brands, along with the company’s environmental practices. As part of a vegan lifestyle, making all attempts to “do no harm,” includes not harming our fragile planet.

We’ll also talk about some of the many ways baking soda can be used:

  • Cleaning
  • Skin care
  • Dental care
  • Flower arranging (!)
  • Silver polishing

Contents

  • What is baking soda in cooking?
  • How else can baking soda be used?
    • Company Background
  • So are there alternatives?
    • Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda
    • Ener-G
  • Conclusion
  • Related Questions
      • Is baking soda gluten free?
      • Is baking soda kosher?
    • Related Guides

What is baking soda in cooking?

When baking soda is used as a leavening agent in baking, it has to be used with other ingredients, such as cocoa, sour cream, or buttermilk. Without these other ingredients, it can produce a yellowing of the batter or dough along with unwelcome odors or flavors. Components of baking soda also make your chocolate chip cookies chewy instead of hard.

How else can baking soda be used?

Baking soda has a wide variety of uses, which many of those who follow a vegan lifestyle can appreciate. Using products which are environmentally safe, produced by eco-friendly companies, and not inflicting cruelty on animals can help a vegan feel good about using baking soda for more than just cooking.

Baking soda can literally clean your entire house. It is safe to use on tile, in tubs and sinks, and lightly on painted walls. You can also use it to deodorize and freshen carpets, especially if you have pets. If your oven needs a good cleaning, scrub the bottom of it with baking soda and then spray some water on it, and let it sit overnight. Wipe it off in the morning, and you’ve avoided using harsh chemicals found in oven cleaners, as well as not using the 4 hours of energy it takes to run a self-cleaning oven.

Polish your silver with baking soda, and add just a teaspoon of it to your cut flowers to help keep them fresher longer. And to keep your breath fresh, especially after a garlicky dish, rinse your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in with some water, to naturally neutralize odors.

You can also use baking soda as a toothpaste, and it is added to many toothpastes already, as it’s cleaning benefits for the enamel of teeth have been proven. Try it on your skin for a natural exfoliant, or put it in some warm water to use as a natural softening pedicure for dry, cracked heels.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

The now world-famous Arm & Hammer baking soda was first commercially produced in 1846 by two brothers-in-law, Dr. Austin Church and John Dwight. In 1867, when Austin Church retired, Church & Co. was formed and his son, James, brought over to the company the “arm” and “hammer” logo, which is a symbol of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. This icon has become known as a symbol of quality products worldwide, including the Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.

Ingredients:

  • Sodium bicarbonate

Nutritional Facts (per ⅛ of a teaspoon):

  • Total Fat 0g
  • Saturated Fat 0g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 150mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 0g
  • Dietary Fiber 0g
  • Total Sugars 0g
  • Includes 0g Added Sugars
  • Protein 0g
  • Vitamin D 0mcg
  • Calcium 0mg
  • Iron 0mg
  • Potassium 0mg
  • Vitamin A 0mcg
  • Vitamin C 0mg

Company Background

Arm & Hammer’s parent company has been supporting the environment almost since it was formed. Their efforts at bird conservation and education have been in effect since the late 1800s. In the early 1900s, they began to recycle paperboard in order to package their shelf products. They were recycling before it was the phenomenon it is today!

During the 1920s, they began a leaflet campaign to introduce consumers to the many cost-savings ways their baking soda could be used. During the Great Depression, this was especially important, as so many people were impoverished and unemployed.

Here’s a little known fact: In 1970, Arm & Hammer was the only corporate sponsor of the first annual Earth Day! The company had recently discovered that there were harmful effects the phosphate industry was having on the environment. It was this year that they introduced their first phosphate-free detergent. In less than a year from its conception, the company was able to significantly reduce the environmental impact their detergents produced using phosphates had on lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water.

While Arm & Hammer has made significant contributions to protecting and conserving the environment, as a vegan, the animal testing their company performs here in the states, cannot be overlooked. And, as their products are sold extensively in China, their laws require that the products on their shelves from other countries be tested on animals. For this reason, while their baking soda, as a natural product, is considered vegan, their animal testing practices do go against the vegan belief of doing no harm and being cruelty free.

So are there alternatives?

Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda

Is Baking Soda Vegan? (You’d Be Surprised!) | Choosing Nutrition (1) Like Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda contains one ingredient: sodium bicarbonate. But, unlike Arm & Hammer, Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda is derived from a different source: nahcolite. This is a form of sodium bicarbonate that has no need to be chemically produced or altered. It is the most natural form of sodium bicarbonate and does not contain any chemical additives.

Ingredients:

  • Sodium bicarbonate

Nutritional Facts:

  • Total Fat 0g
  • Saturated Fat 0g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 280mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 0g
  • Dietary Fiber 0g
  • Total Sugars 0g
  • Includes 0g Added Sugars
  • Protein 0g
  • Vitamin D 0 mcg
  • Calcium 0mg
  • Iron 0mg
  • Potassium 0mg
  • Vitamin A 0 mcg
  • Vitamin C 0mg

Another difference between Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda and Arm & Hammer’s brand is that Bob’s Red Mill has made a commitment to never testing their products on animals. In fact, there was some controversy about a decade ago when the company made a generous donation to the Oregon Health & Science University, a school that engages in animal testing for research.

The owners of Bob’s Red Mill, Bob and Charlee Moore, (who are an absolutely adorable couple!) made a promise to their consumers that they would oversee how their donation was used at the school and that $0 of their funds would be used for animal testing. This makes Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda a winner as a vegan-friendly alternative brand.

Ener-G

Is Baking Soda Vegan? (You’d Be Surprised!) | Choosing Nutrition (2) The Ener-G company has roots going back to Spain in the late 1800s. Today, the family-owned company is a leading producer of gluten-free products. They also offer support for allergy conditions and autism conditions as part of their ongoing dedication to providing education to consumers.

Ingredients:

  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Magnesium Carbonate

Nutritional Facts:

  • Total Fat 0g
  • Saturated Fat 0g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 0mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 0g
  • Dietary Fiber 0g
  • Total Sugars 0g
  • Includes 0g Added Sugars
  • Protein 0g
  • Vitamin D 0 mcg
  • Calcium 80%
  • Iron 4%
  • Magnesium 60%

The Ener-G Baking Soda Substitute is totally different from your normal brands of baking soda. It is free of aluminum, sodium, potassium and is gluten-free. This product was designed by the Ener-G company for patients who undergo kidney dialysis and have to avoid sodium and potassium bicarbonate and who need more calcium in their diet. The only drawback for the Ener-G brand is you have to use twice as much as regular baking soda. But you actually get nutrients with this brand!

Conclusion

Baking Soda, as an ingredient in cooking, is indeed vegan-friendly. If you are a practicing vegan, you may wish to pay closer attention to the brand of baking soda you purchase. Some of the companies who manufacture baking soda may use chemical processing and animal testing on their baking soda products. Be sure you are choosing a company which makes attempts to avoid both in order to support the ideal of being cruelty free.

Related Questions

Is baking soda gluten free?

Baking soda is naturally gluten free. To be more confident that the baking soda brand you buy has not experienced any cross-contamination, be sure to look for “gluten-free” on the brand label.

Is baking soda kosher?

The only way to know if the brand of baking soda you want to use is kosher, and has been produced using the strictest kosher standards, is to look at the label, or the producer’s website. All of the brands we have talked about in this article are considered to be kosher.

Related Guides

  • Is Corn Starch Vegan Friendly?
  • Is Xanthan Gum Vegan?
  • Is Cream of Tartar Vegan?

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