Suppose I'm somewhere where stores don't seem to stock baking soda or baking powder. Are there other names either of those might be sold under? Or are there things I could substitute?


  • 4
    Go online, buy a few boxes and have them shipped to you? Maybe a few boxes at a time, since they should last a fairly long time in storage, to minimize shipping cost per box.
    – Megha
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 3:01

5 Answers 5


1. Chemical leaveners

There are two "oldfashioned" chemical leaveners, both still used today in traditional German and Scandinavian gingerbread recipes:

  • Potassium carbonate (potash or pearl ash) and
  • Ammonium bicarbonate (salt of heartshorn)

They do have their own quirks and pitfalls, but if nothing else is available...

If you can get baking soda, mix with cream of tartar to make baking powder.
If your store does not stock it, you pharmacy most likely will carry "sodium hydrogen carbonate" (which is another name for baking soda) either as treatment for heartburn, it's an antacid (because it reacts with acid, neutralzing it and making these nice bubbles, as we know from baking...) or as topical treatment for allergic reactions of the skin (poison ivy and others).

2. Biological leaveners

This boils down to Saccharomyces cerevisiae, aka. baker's yeast or brewer's yeast. Of course you get very different results and have to follow a different procedure. But here are some recipes where they are used somewhat interchangeably, e.g. some types of pancakes or waffles and, obviously, bread (vs. sodabread).
The charming thing about yeast is, that if your are really, really far from a store, you can still get your hands on yeast: Start a sourdough using the yeasts naturally occuring on fruits or the air around you.
Probably not the kind of substitution you had in mind, though.

3. No leaveners

With good technique, you can incorporate a lot of air (because that's what all leaveners are supposed to do) in your baking goods by whipping your eggs well. There are various approaches:

  • You can whip the whole eggs.
  • Whip the yolks (with hot water or over a water bath to stabilize them) to Zabaione-like consistency.
  • Whip the whites and fold into your batter.

You will want to bake these batters right away before the bubbles get a chance to burst. The air will expand during baking and the hardening egg/flour-mixture will trap them in the baked goods. Contrary to many recipes out there there is no real need to bake a pound cake or even sponge cake with baking powder if it's done right.

Other recipes without leavener (or rather with the egg trapping steam generated by a rather high water content) are the members of the popover family (Yorkshire pudding in the UK, Pfitzauf in Swabia, some dutch pancakes) and pâté a choux.

Puff pastry relies on thin layers of butter separating the layers of floury dough and trapping steam between them.

  • Having tasted Swedish "salty licorice" with ammonium chloride, I was a bit worried about what the ammonium bicarbonate might taste like. Wikipedia says if the gas can escape, it's totally fine, but if you use it in normal bread or cake you end up with ammonia smell trapped inside :(
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 22:36
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    There are a few traditional christmas cookies where I live (Germany/Swabia) that use ammonium chloride. Smells really funky while baking, but there is no aftertaste in them. Works only for flat cookies, not for cakes, though.
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 22:52
  • So instead of buying expensive antacid pills, I could just dissolve some baking soda and down that instead? Or would that lead to explosive and presumably quite Pythonesque results?
    – user25798
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 12:38
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    @Lilienthal d.umn.edu/~jfitzake/Lectures/DMED/Antiulcer/Treatment/… see the "sodium bicarbonate" part.
    – Kenster
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 12:47
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    @Lilienthal: Baking soda is an old-fashioned treatment. Especially for long-term use there are modern and better recipes in use today. In a pinch and if nothing else is available, you can take a small dose of baking soda. The baking soda package here in Germany still lists it's use as antacid or (quote:) "in mild cases of indigestion".
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 19:16

For baking, you may be able to find flour with leaveners already mixed in. Look for self-rising or self-raising flour. Note that in the US at least, self-rising flour also has salt added.

  • 1
    There are also 'biscuit mixes' (eg, 'Bisquick') that are like self-raising flour, but also contain a bit of fat in them.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 21:04

depending on the recipe, you could try using beer instead of baking powder.


Depending on your cookies, cake or funnel cake, you could use self rising flour.


Baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate, you may find it under that name everywhere. European Union encoded this food additive as E500. Sodium bicarbonate is widely available in any pharmacy or drugstore. pubchem open chemistry database - sodium bicarbonate drugs.com sodium bicarbonate. Anywhere you can buy aspirin, you can but sodium bicarbonate.

Baking powder is baking soda plus an acidic compound, maybe cream of tartar or citric acid, and the addition of cornstarch for stability.

You may substitute baking powder with backing soda and add the acidic agent (buttermilk, yoghourt, lemon juice, vinegar, etc) wikihow - How to Make Substitute Baking Powder

And here are a list of common denominations for sodium bicarbonate: commonchemistry.org - Sodium Bicarbonate

  • 3
    The whole point was, what if you can't find it (and that's not just hypothetical - look at the first related question I linked to). It's not everywhere. So I'm not sure I see how this answers the question - you're just saying "if you can't find baking soda or powder, go find baking soda or powder, it's easy."
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 15:26
  • Sodium bicarbonate is available everywhere. Any pharmacy will have it, even in the most remote places. Any chemistry place will have it. It's not used just for food purposes.
    – roetnig
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 15:29
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    Yes, I'm aware - there's even a link in the question about making that kind of substitution. It doesn't help if you're having trouble finding baking soda (whether labeled that or sodium bicarbonate).
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 15:36
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    Downvoting is childish. Sodium bicarbonate is so common you can find it anywhare, even in Antartica base.
    – roetnig
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 17:43
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    @Jefromi in the first related question the OP said: I eventually found some. So it wasn't impossible at all even for him.
    – roetnig
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 18:01

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