Kitchen Myths

Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken

A box of baking soda in the fridge or freezer absorbs odors

This is a very clever and successful marketing ploy by the baking soda people, but the fact is that baking soda is very poor at absorbing odors. It seems to make sense, however, so lots of people have spent untold billions of dollars to put boxes of baking soda in their fridge or freezer to no effect. Activated charcoal would work much better but is expensive. Better to wrap your food and clean the fridge once in a while.

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4 responses to “A box of baking soda in the fridge or freezer absorbs odors

  1. Marnix September 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Since the practice of using baking soda in the fridge is so widespread, I did some further research and came across this article: http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/eco-friendly/baking-soda-refrigerator It concludes that while the performance of baking soda as a deodorant has never been lab tested (except by a manufacturer of baking soda), everyday evidence suggests that it does work because of its ability to neutralize strong acids and bases, the sources of bad odors.

    • kitchenmyths September 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      If the baking soda came into contact with the source of the odor, I think your point would be valid. But, it doesn’t – it just sits in the box. As an analogy, imagine putting your underarm deodorant on your shoes.

      • Asa Bender November 10, 2011 at 6:43 pm

        It’s not the source of the oder that gets neutralized, its the vapor itself. I tested it myself because someone told me it was a myth. try grabbing anything RANK, breaking it in 2, then putting the halves in sealed containers, one some with baking soda and one without. It does a bang up job. Charcoal should work too, i’ve certainly used it to get rid of horrible smells in the past, but they basically work the same way: taking up the active molecules in the air.

        To pick on your analogy, try putting the deodorant under your nose… or, more to the point in this case, using a activated charcoal respirator. Its about the air in the fridge getting gross, not the gross food making it gross. Besides, if you’re talking about a deodorant rather than an antiperspirant, putting the cologne on other parts of your body is the norm (though i’ve certainly seen some women spray their pits while they were at it).

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