How To Make Your Own Homemade Baking Powder, And Why…


Among other uses, baking powder is used in recipes to make biscuits, muffins, or even ‘bread without yeast’. Baking powder is used as a leavening agent – enabling baked goods to ‘rise’.

When baking powder is combined with water, a chemical reaction occurs which enables its ingredients to produce carbon dioxide – which is then trapped in tiny air pockets throughout a dough or batter. When baked, the trapped carbon dioxide air pockets expand, thus expanding the overall food. It ‘rises’.

One problem though with store-bought baking powder is its shelf life. And when it comes to preparedness, one thing we look at is how to mitigate shelf life issues.

A lot of people don’t know that you can make baking powder yourself.

Here’s how, with just two ingredients, each of which have an unlimited shelf life…


Homemade Baking Powder Ingredients

Cream of Tartar
Baking Soda
Corn Starch (optional)


Homemade Baking Powder Recipe

Simply combine 2 parts Cream of Tarter with 1 part Baking Soda.

Optionally add 1 part Corn Starch for longevity (if you’re making a batch to store on the shelf versus immediate use) because it will absorb moisture.

Use a sifter to combine ingredients into a bowl for best results.

If you are making a bulk batch, store in an an air-tight environment such as a mason jar with lid (to prohibit moisture from prematurely ‘reacting’ the ingredients).


What is Cream of Tartar?

Cream of Tartar is a byproduct of the wine industry (bet you wouldn’t have guessed that!) and is formed from the sediment left over in wine barrels after the winemaking process. It is scraped off of the sides of the barrels and then cleaned and ground to form cream of tartar (a fine, white, odorless powder).

The chemical name is “potassium bitartrate”, or “potassium hydrogen tartrate” – an acid salt – (you can see where the “tartar” came from).


What is Baking Soda?

Baking soda is pure “sodium bicarbonate”. Most of what is used in the United States is mined and processed from a raw material (called ‘Trona’) in Green River, Wyoming.

Remember this science experiment? Mixing baking soda (base) with vinegar (acid) and watching an eruption of bubbles? (Simulated volcano eruption…)

Although you don’t want your breads or biscuits to ‘erupt’, the same reaction occurs when you add baking soda (base) with an acid such as cream of tartar (and water to activate).


What is Corn Starch?

Cornstarch is made out of corn by grinding, washing and drying the “endosperm” of the corn until reaching a fine and powdery texture. It is most often used as a thickener for sauces, and is flavorless after cooking.


Note: Most store-bought baking powder contains aluminum in some form, and aluminum is apparently directly correlated with Alzheimer’s. By making your own baking powder, you are controlling the ingredients. With that said, there are ‘aluminum-free’ baking powders available.

Note: My observations indicate that store-bought baking powder has an approximate shelf-life of 1 to 2 years if unopened and stored in a favorable (dry) environment. By sourcing the individual ingredients, and only mixing them when you need to, you are effectively increasing the shelf life to infinity… (or thereabouts ;) )

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    1. This is my understanding of the situation…

      Cream of tartar has an indefinite shelf life if kept in an air-tight container.

      Since baking ‘powder’ is the combination of both the acid (cream of tartar) and the base (baking soda), it is susceptible to reaction and loss of efficacy – given any moisture content which finds its way into the mix over time.

      If the ingredients are kept separate, they will not chemically ‘react’ with each other under such circumstances, and therefore are considered to have an indefinite shelf life – given what they are…

  1. Let me ask a dumb question. If long term a person finally runs out of baking powder is there a substitute ( other than a yeast)?

    1. They used to use yeast for cakes, cookies, etc. Baking powder made those things much simpler.

    2. You can gather wild…yeast?… white powder off of cedars? someone know more about this? i’ve seen it, but don’t know process to do it…

      1. There is wild yeast in the air, in your spit, on and in everything we touch or use. The yeast we use from the store is a domesticated strain of wild yeast, many generations removed. If you leave unleavened dough out it will develop a yeast culture over time–it may not be very palatable, but you’ll have yeast in your bread. If you end up with a variety you like you can use it to make a sourdough starter. Getting it from aspens or other sources will give you a head start.

  2. @ no joke…
    if you don’t have baking powder you can substitute 1/2 tsp soda AND use 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk to replace regularly called for liquid….works the same as 1 tsp baking powder. just adjust your other liquid called for in the recipe. works great!

  3. Well at first thought when I saw the title I wasn’t real intrigued.

    But as always Ken you have provided a very good article. This was very educational. Now I can make some good biscuits after TSHF. Just need to worry about the sausage and gravy. Yum.

    Adapt and Overcome.

    1. Quote, “Well at first thought when I saw the title I wasn’t real intrigued.”

      Maybe it’s time to go back to TEOTWAWKI SHTF title’s – they always get WAY MORE hits… ;)

      I do sacrifice lots of the doom-and-gloom website ‘hits’ when I write about ‘regular’ practical preparedness topics – but I feel that some diversity is good. Also depends on my mood ;)

      1. NA!

        Just keep doing what you do Ken. I don’t always comment but usually always read. Even if it doesn’t peak my interest. Plus you help me stay out of the doom and gloom. Which is a hard thing to do these days.

        Thank you BTW.

        Adapt and Overcome.

      2. Ken Keep up the great efforts I like the balance of articles, and doom and gloom articles means a person is a realist of what is going on or be the ‘watchman’ we are coming to a new beginning so stay tuned.

    2. I know what I’m making for Saturday Breakfast!
      Between kens picture of biscuits and you mentioning sausage and gravy morning can’t come quick enough…thinking I better get up about 4 a.m.
      Best to get a n early start on such things…LOL

      1. Lol.

        In my opinion nothing beats SAUSAGE GRAVY AND BISCUITS. Maybe add a couple of eggs (over medium) with some grits and I’m in hog heaven.

        OK. Now I’m really hungry.

        Adapt and Overcome.

  4. Ken!
    Forget the science!(not really)
    Those biscuits pictured have my mouth watering…..dang it!
    Now I have to pay attention to my wife’s baking, instead of doing “poison control”!
    She uses her own “stuff” instead of store bought, too. Except for biscuits which she doesn’t like!
    I’m dying for some good flaky biscuits….you are one cruel dude for posting that photo! :)

    1. My wife is the same. She doesn’t care for biscuits. I have a hard time comprehending that.
      How can anyone not love biscuits? Especially homemade. To each their own.

      Adapt and Overcome.

  5. I have heard of flour from cattails stocks and using cattails to start fires. Interesting stuff.

    1. Locally Safeway and Target have it.MC Cormick spices have it in a 1 oz. jar.Target even has a store brand in a 1 oz. jar.Amazing the difference in prices though…
      Safeway was $6.89 and Target was $3.29 for same product.Target store brand was $2.07.
      That’s Hawaii prices…

  6. I have also noticed when I mix up my own self-rising flour, it rises better. I think because the baking powder is fresher in mix.

    You never know how long something has been sitting on a shelf at the store or in a warehouse before you purchase it.

  7. Good article. It did peek my interest right away. Good prepper info. Now the next step is making bannock mix. Bannock making is a true survival skill.It can be mixed in an old can or bag and cooked on a stick over a small fire. Modern prepping seems to over look old school survival sometimes favoring MREs over sourdough, bannock and beans. I also noticed an over emphasis on TP in the Sunday preps blog. When the time comes you’ll get the job done. I worry more about getting something to eat rather than how it comes out. I visualize these folks with a Costco size package of TP strapped to their bug out bag sneaking through the woods.

    The Kiksadi death march in Sitka comes to mind. The local Natives village got pounded by the Russians. Their only hope to avoid total annihilation was to kill all their old people, children and anyone else unable to move fast and escape over the mountains. They survived. Hard choices….TP is out of the question. Oops, Sorry about the gloom and doom.

  8. Is the cream of tartar made from the same stuff that forms small white lumps in the bottle of home-made grape juice? I think it is, but I haven’t been able to find any definitive answers. If it is, that’s one more resource.

    1. Lauren,
      found this on “Mad Food Science”

      Cream of tartar

      It’s delicious, sophisticated and makes everyone more attractive.
      And it’s where cream of tartar comes from. Seriously.
      Is there anything wine can’t do?

      Cream of tartar is a chemical called potassium bitartrate. It’s a carboxylic acid, which is a kind of organic acid. An inorganic acid, by comparison, would be something like sulphuric acid which doesn’t have carbon atoms. You’re more familiar with carboxylic acids than you might think: acetic acid is vinegar; citric acid makes lemons sour; lactic acid makes your muscles burn after running a marathon.

      Tartaric acid (the base molecule of cream of tartar) is found in the greatest concentration in grapes, where it’s the chemical that makes them tart. Hence, tartaric. It’s also found in bananas (which don’t seem particularly tart to me) and tamarinds, but in lesser amounts.

      It was first isolated from the inside of wine barrels by a Persian alchemist way back in the year 800. When grape juice ferments, the tartaric acid “falls” out of the liquid and crystalizes on any available surface in a process called “precipitation.” Kind of like rain. But with acid crystals. Like it’s the 60s all over again.

      1. Yes, but if grape juice sits it forms small white granules (they look purple, but they’re white inside). Is this the same stuff?

  9. I would think if shtf, if you don’t have baking power or can’t get it, you probably can’t get baking soda and cream of tartar, a packet of yeast, or don’t have sourdough starter. But your article is interesting in case you have ingredients to make baking powder yourself. Good survival tip! I have a more primitive suggestion:

    The bare essentials for rising flour dough if one does not have these ingredients is natural airborne yeast. It takes a few days for flour dough to rise if kept warm and damp and where wild yeasts are active in nature, but it made a meal for me when my times were hard. After learning this and was successful, I did this in a demonstration when I went to a week long primitive re-enactment. This will give you starter dough without having to buy those ingredients.

    Leavened bread goes back thousands of years, and it was made in primitive cultures using airborne yeasts long before the discoveries of packaged yeast, baking soda, baking powder, or cream of tartar.

    1. @Stardust, I want to learn this technique! More details?

      My grandmother used to make her own yeast from her grapes. But, that information is long-gone. Sadly.

      1. You can make yeast from home grown or wild grapes by not washing grapes but stemming them, and putting them in water, crush the grapes, covered with cheesecloth for 2-3 days in room temperature. When it bubbles, strain the liquid, and add flour to the liquid to a dough like texture and knead. Set aside to rise for 24 hours and you have your starter dough. That’s how you can make it from grapes, and your grandmother’s recipe was not lost, it was handed down to many other families.

        It can be made by a number of homegrown or wild fruits and vegetables and adds a bit of flavor to each batch. Potato yeast can be made quicker using boiled potato water and sugar adding flour, ready within 24 to 48 hours. You can make yeast from Beer, tomatoes, corn, berries and raisins that I know of. Berries will ferment on their own as I noted in the 100’s of thousands I have picked, and that’s why berry wine can be made on its own without adding yeast.

        Airborne yeasts are most abundant during summer throughout the fall where gardens, wild fruits, grains, seeds, leaves, vegetables start decaying or getting over ripe. They are everywhere, but is concentrated where abundant vegetation starts decaying and yeast thrives on starches/sugars in the plants. Of the 100’s of thousands of berries I have picked, many already had the yeast fermenting in them..tastes more like wine than berry…now you know why I pick berries :-)

  10. Stardust since baking powder has a 1-2 yr shelf life & baking soda & creme of tartar have an infinite shelf life then stocking up on the latter 2 would be a way to not run out so quickly & still have a viable levening agent. Where we live creme of tartar comes in a small box for about $7 in the groc. stores but I found a health food store that rebags it into plastic bags of about 2X box for about $2.50. I bring it home & put it into a glass jar or a plastic container. I am building a stock pile.

    This week shoppped the sales & got 1 case canned mushrooms, 2-3 l. jugs oil, 2-4 l. jugs vinegar, a 10 kg bag of rice & a few items for immediate use. Went to city to get filters & batteries for DH hearing aid. While there took 8 bags of too small clothes to Value village which gave me 35% off on my purchase. Got 2 pr. pants, some books,& pattern. Also scored big on 6 boxes of canning rubber rings for less than 2 boxes plus my 35% off. I mostly use the snap lids but still have some of the glass lids that use the rubber rings.

    Most of this weeks preps was cleaning & sorting out junk, making rags from ragged clothes, shedding paper for mulch & generally trying to organize preps & every day things so I can find what I need in a hurry. I hate having to buy another whatsit when I know I have one somewhere.

    A friend sent me an article to read about the troubles that Europe is having in their health care system with the influx of middle east “guests”. With that many coming in it is no wonder. It may over whelm their health & social service capabilities. We in North America need to only take in what we can handle.

  11. A quick question….I hope. My tin if baking powder says ‘double acting’. What does that mean and does that mean you should double the amount used if using the homemade version? For example, if the recipe calls for 1 T store bought baking powder would you need to use 2 T of the homemade?
    Btw love this site and all the articles. There’s something here for everyone!

    1. Double acting means it has two main ingredients… use ratio posted on one of it’s recipes on can to start.. then adjust to your liking.

    2. Means it rises twice–one leavening agent (Baking soda) is activated by water, the other by heat. I can’t remember the name of the other at the moment.

    3. Rumford makes both I believe not sure if it was Rumford but I have found double actin non aluminum BP. Cook’s Magazine did a test Double acting vrs single They found no appreciable difference. most aluminum based bp is double acting BTW.

      1. The only difference I can see is you might want to put single acting right in the oven and double leave out for a bit..

  12. So from what I’m gathering here, baking powder basically adds air bubbles to your baked goods? Does it add or have any nutritional benefits? Does it add or have any flavoring? If not, then why not just do without? Sure your bread and biscuits will be flatter and harder but in a SHTF situation you’re looking for nutrition and calories right? Plus there’s an easy fix for hard biscuits anyway, it’s called dunking. Just pick your fave, coffee, milk, water, beer, whatever. Yeah I know this idea isn’t popular, that’s why I’m staying anonymous with it, hehe.

    1. so, I have to say, I have thought the same ..

      I think it would basically be some old fashioned survival food called

      ===simple type of cracker or biscuit, made from flour, water, and sometimes salt. Inexpensive and long-lasting, it was and is used for sustenance in the absence of perishable foods, commonly during long sea voyages and military campaigns

      ===variety of flat quick bread or any large, round article baked or cooked from grain. When a round bannock is cut into wedges, the wedges are often called scones. However, in Scotland the words bannock and scone are often used interchangeably.
      ===The original bannocks were heavy, flat cakes of unleavened barley or oatmeal dough formed into a round or oval shape, then cooked on a griddle (or girdle in Scots).

      Unleavened Bread
      ====wide variety of breads which are not prepared with raising agents. Unleavened breads are generally flat breads; however, not all flat breads are unleavened. Unleavened breads, such as the tortilla and roti, are staple foods in Central America and South Asia, respectively

    2. However, I do realize the need most people have for variety in order to stave off food boredom (I forget the technical term). Most people actually end up losing weight and risk malnutrition if they’re faced with having to eat the same thing every day. Fortunately I don’t have that problem, I can and have gone months at a time with nothing more than beans and rice. I do like a variety of foods and flavors, but for me they’re not a necessity. But for the majority, I know it is a necessity so in that regards, thanks for the article Ken.

    3. Also when baking powder ingredients were not available. I would mix flour with water, salt, and egg to roll out and cut into thin strips cooked in soups and stews. It was like stew flavored dunked bread strips. Learned it from a lady who collected old 1800’s southern recipes who called them dumplings at the time. I still make them and like them better than noodles.

  13. A great inexpensive place I found to buy cream of tartar is bulkfoods dot com. Just search for “tartar” in their search bar. An example price is eleven bucks per pound, or five pounds for forty bucks. Much much cheaper than the spice shelf at the grocery store.


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