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As we prepare for Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, people usually ask about products that contain leavening. I thought I'd post a blog with a bit of information to help. Of course as we de-leaven our homes the most important focus is on the spiritual - the greater task of becoming unleavened ourselves.

Look for Leavening

During Unleavened Bread we are to have no leaven or leavened products in our home (Exodus 12:15 Exodus 12:15Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; even the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
American King James Version×
; Exodus 12:19 Exodus 12:19Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whoever eats that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
American King James Version×
; Exodus 13:7 Exodus 13:7Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with you, neither shall there be leaven seen with you in all your quarters.
American King James Version×

Leaven is a food additive, which causes bread or bread products to rise. The apostle Paul used this property of leaven to teach Christians that a “puffed up” attitude is sin (compare 1 Corinthians 5:2 1 Corinthians 5:2And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you.
American King James Version×
with 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 6 Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
American King James Version×

Leaven includes yeast, a biological leavening agent that produces fermentation, and chemical leavening agents such as baking powder, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and potassium bicarbonate.

Items such as bread, cake, crackers, cookies and prepared cereals and pies that contain leavening must be put out. Doing this is symbolic of putting both the visible and hidden sins out of our lives.

Homemade cream puffs, angel food cake, popovers and sponge cake, while light and fluffy, need not contain any of the above ingredients. Most pie crust recipes (except for graham cracker crusts) are unleavened. However, these products, when purchased from stores or bakeries, frequently do include leavening. Check the ingredient list.

Even though pita bread, flour tortillas and graham crackers are flat, they do contain leavening. Even some brands of matzos marked “kosher for Passover” can also list baking soda or baking powder in the ingredients! So be careful.

Although the following ingredients are associated with leavening products; they are not, by themselves, leavening agents: brewer’s yeast, yeast extract (a flavoring), cornstarch and cream of tartar (a dry acid). Cream of tartar, being an acid, merely neutralizes the alkaline nature of baking soda and does not, by itself, cause dough to rise.

Is It Leavening?

Leavening Agents

Leaven is any agent that produces fermentation and causes dough to rise, by causing the formation of carbon dioxide gas to bubble into and spread throughout the dough. This is accomplished either chemically (as with baking soda) or biologically (as with yeast).

• Baking Soda: a crystalline alkaline salt that gives off gas when an acid is added. The following are different types of baking soda:

• Sodium bicarbonate, also known as “Saleratus.”

• Potassium bicarbonate, or potash.

• Ammonium carbonate, or “baker’s ammonia.”

• Ammonium bicarbonate, also known as “hartshorn.”

• Baking Powder (baking soda + acid-forming ingredients + starch filler).

• Sourdough starter (a wild yeast colony that is maintained with flour and moisture).

• Yeast (a single-celled fungi, used to leaven).

Not Leavening

* Autolyzed yeast: A yeast that has ‘self-destructed’ and is sterile – incapable of leavening.

* Brewers Yeast: A dead form of yeast that cannot leaven bread; a ‘nutritional’ yeast.

* Torula Yeast: A dead yeast that cannot leaven bread, considered a ‘nutritional’ yeast. Also hickory smoked torula yeast. Used as a savory seasoning that imparts smoky aroma to foods.

* Yeast extract(s): Derivatives of yeast, which are sterile and cannot leaven bread.

* Cream of Tartar: Tartaric acid – potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate. This is an acid used to combine with baking soda. By itself, this is not leavening.

* Tartrate powder: Phosphate powder or sulfate powder – usually added with cream of tartar. By itself this is not leavening.

* Alum: A metallic double salt, usually added with cream of tartar. Most common is sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS or sulfate powder), and potassium aluminum sulfate (or potash alum). By itself this is not leavening.

* Sorbitan monosterate: A flavor and texture enhancer. Not leaven of itself.

* Sodium Caseinate: A milk protein, not a leaven

* Sodium Silicoaluminate: A fine powder that is used to keep cocoa, salt and other products dry, not a leaven

* Polysorbate 60: A preservative; not a leaven.

* Egg whites: Not a leavening agent. While beaten egg white can be stirred into dough, it does not spread through dough as leavening does and is not leavening.

* Steam or air (such as in popovers or angel food cake). The same principle as egg whites (above) applies; there is no leavening agent mixed through the dough.

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During the Days of Unleavened Bread we are to have no leaven or leavened...


  • Douglas Cline
    In attending one of the COG groups we had an issue where an entire family left the church because one of the ministers explained that people did not need to throw out toothpaste and dog food that contain baking soda; since these are not meant to leaven bread, nor are they for human consumption. The head of the family claimed that Mr. Armstrong was adamant about even these types of assumed leavening agents be removed. Upon diligent research; I found that Herbert W. Armstrong taught no such thing.
  • Larry Hardison
    Though beaten egg whites are not technically a leavening agent, even as highly beaten contents of agnel food cake and popovers do not leaven, the lessons to be learned are lost if we use these. Leaven puffs up and by introducing highly beaten components we are skirting the letter of the law by sullying the spirit of the law. For our household we would rather give up such daliances to ensure we are being obedient to God (thus loving God, 1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
    American King James Version×
    , above ourselves and our appetites) rather than seeing how close to sin we can get. What we think is right doesn’t carry much weight with God (Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 14:12There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
    American King James Version×
    ; 16:25). Is eternal life so cheap as to risk losing it for a piece of angel food cake or a popover?
  • Lewis VanAusdle
    Interestingly, Jews don’t consider baking soda and baking powder to be leavening in the same way that those in the churches of God do. When they keep Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread they are more concerned with the use of grains that have been or potentially could become fermented. I read somewhere online that some Jews don’t think it’s required to throw out yeast for Passover because it is naturally occurring and is even in the air around us all the time. Personally I throw out both yeast and baking soda because they are leavening agents and I believe that it is important to get rid of the leavening. Not to worry about the flour that could potentially become leavened. As far as using other methods to make unleavened bread or desserts that are softer, I don’t think that it necessarily takes away from the lessons learned during the Spring Holy Days. I think that if it does bother someone’s conscience then they shouldn’t eat those kinds of foods during this time. Personally I do eat some of the softer unleavened bread like angel food cake and popovers. But I also eat other unleavened bread that is mainly flour and water. I think that eating the harder, flatter unleavened bread is a good reminder of getting rid of sin, of eating the bread of affliction, and when Israel came out of Egypt and didn’t have time to let their dough rise but were instead commanded to eat unleavened bread. It is also a great reminder of the sacrifice Christ made. During the Passover it represents His body. There is a way that seems right to a man and that way does end in death. There are things that aren’t specific in the bible. For instance ancient Israel didn’t have baking soda to use in their bread. We had to decide that we were going to get rid of that leavening agent even if others don’t. We have to work out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12 Philippians 2:12Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
    American King James Version×
    ), making an informed decision based on scripture about what foods go into our mouths and about when to go to our brethren if they are offending us or if we have offended them. If eating bread containing beaten eggs pricks your conscience then don’t eat it or make it. If one day I come to the same conclusion then I will do the same.
  • Darla Moody
    Hi, Do you know if Selenium Yeast is leavening? I just found it in one of my vitamins. Couldn’t find info on the internet if it was leavening or not. Thanks! Darla :D
    Hello, Do you know if sodium phosphates is leavening?
  • ryandecena
    Does Koko Krunch breakfast cereal have leavening? Thank you for your answer.
  • Lena VanAusdle
    @blanche it doesn’t appear to a leavening agent in and of itself, it is apparently often used in conjunction with common leavening agents.@ryandecena, koko krunch does not appear to contain any leavening.
  • dadefoxx
    I know calcium BIcarbonate is a leavening agent, but is calcium carbonate? Isn’t that basically just clay?
  • JWF57
    What if a medication contains yeast?
  • TimS
    What about Modified and/or Unmodified Food Starch?… or just starch altogether?
  • dhenry
    Actually Larry, I tend to disagree only in that, through living God’s way, and trying to avoid sin, we can rise. I see it as two different things - puffed up with self righteousness and sin and the other simply rising in that God provides for his people to ultimately rise above adversity. Anyways, just a thought. Hope you have an inspiring DULB. I think sometimes we go overboard and end up like the phairasees - like when I used to throw out my toaster …
  • Skyking
    Is oatmeal considered to be leaven?
  • Malachi 3_16-18
    Hi Tim S, No, food starch is not a leavening agent. Food starches (such as corn starch) are used as thickeners and/or stabilizers in recipes, and of and by themselves, don’t cause dough to rise.
  • Malachi 3_16-18
    Hi Skyking, No, oatmeal is not leavening, although it does swell up when cooked. But so do dried fruits and a number of other things. Oats don’t cause fermentation, which yeast does, thus causing dough to rise.
  • Lena VanAusdle
    @SkyKing, oatmeal is NOT a leavening agent. @TimS, food starch is also NOT a leavening agent (it’s usually a thickener). @JWF57, when it comes to medications, cleaning agents, pet foods, and personal hygiene products it really comes down to your personal convictions. My thoughts on the subject have always been, “would I use this product to make food?” I’m not going to use my toothpaste (that contains baking soda) to make bread. I’m not going to use my puppy’s dog food to make my dinner, and I’m not going to use my medication to do so either, therefore, it is not a leavening agent per say (these are questions the Israelites never would have faced). As a caveat, I have heard some say in response to my stance, “well, I’m not going to use my bread crumbs to make dinner either, so should I not clean my house?” My response to that is those crumbs were my food at one point, and should therefore be put out.
  • Olumide Oyetoke
    There’s a kind of noddles that’s common in my country. here are some of its ingredients that I’m not sure of: Sodium polyphosphate Sodium carbonate Potassium carbonate guargum tartrazine CI 19140 antioxidant (TBHQ) the seasoning powder contains: Monosodium glutamate (621) I saw in this article both Sodium bicarbonate and Potassium bicarbonate are listed as leavening agents. How about when the “bi” is absent as in Sodium carbonate?
  • Romona Adkins
    My Pastor and I talked about this. My thoughts…1-you will most likely not be able to remove All leavening out of your home…ever (even the most righteous is but filthy rags). The toaster was my example. I’d have to buy a new toaster every year. 2- what is the purpose behind de-leavening? Answer…to look deep inside our self and face some “issues” / sin we’ve let slide or are unaware of. So, to me what’s more important..a few crumbs in my toast or looking inside myself / my heart? God already knows what’s there, He wants me to see it and work on “being more willing” and obey out of my love for Him. Please God first. And God has shown me a lot this week that I hope to take with me through out the rest of the year.
  • Malachi 3_16-18
    Hi dadefoxx, I would say it’s more like chalk. Some websites will say it’s a leavening agent. However, it’s an inert ingredient when not used in conjunction with other substances (such as baking soda) to produce baking powder, which IS a leavening agent that causes dough to rise. Calcium carbonate is similar to cream of tartar, which also is not a leavening agent of and by itself, but when combined with baking soda in wet batter, it causes rising. So before the Days of Unleavened Bread, I don’t throw out my jar of cream of tartar, just as I don’t throw out my Vitamin D capsules, which list calcium carbonate as their first ingredient. I hope this helps.
  • Malachi 3_16-18
    Hi Olumide, Interesting question. Here is an answer for each ingredient you had in question: Sodium polyphosphate is not leavened. It is an emulsifier, foaming agent, texturizer, and whipping (not rising) agent. Sodium carbonate is not leavened. It’s an inactive ingredient unless used with other substances (such as baking soda) to produce baking powder. Potassium carbonate, sometimes called pearlash, can be used to replace yeast as a leavening agent, according to research I did. It causes carbon dioxide bubbles when combined with such products as sour milk, buttermilk, or molasses. So I would suggest, treat it as leaven. Guar gum is not leavened. It is a type of gum used as a stabilizer and emulsifier. Tartrazine is not leavened. It is a synthetic yellow food dye. Antioxidant TBHQ is not leavened; it is a food preservative. Monosodium glutamate is not leavened; it is a flavor enhancer. So it looks like one ingredient in all of these may be leavening. As the saying goes, If in doubt, throw it out. There are probably other kinds of noodles that can be purchased without potassium carbonate.
  • Trudy51
    I believe you need to do more research on egg whites when whipped they do become a leaven. Egg whites beaten and added to plain flour will make it rise and some what fluffy. Make 2 cake or 2 bread both using plain flour in one but the eggs with out beaten then in the other one with them whipped up real good and bake both the same the one with the egg whites rise. Leven makes things rise. Same in bread back in the 70s I used brewers yeast in all my bread making. When you us regular yeast you add it to warm water and let it set. The same is done with brewers yeast. Using plain flour and just Brewers yeast the bread rises. Leaven rises. Just because most do not use it for that those that do it is an leavening. I have been a cook for 55+ years I hold Food Service Management white eggs beaten is leavening for it makes the food rise and fluffy. Using brewers yeast in making bread makes it rise and puffy their by leavening. Dig and do your research. I know dunning ULB in my home there is no whipping of eggs and nothing that makes things rise like brewers yeast.
  • lisak
    Hello all! I’ve looked on many different web sites and the information I find here from Mr. Myers seems to match all the other sites I could find regarding what is considered leavening and what is not. One thing I have found myself doing the last few days is becoming so consumed with what may be leavening and what is not that I am neglecting the most important part of this special time. Of course, we all know leavening isn’t evil; it is symbolic of the sin in our lives. The most important thing we can be doing right now is looking deep within ourselves. We also need to avoid forcing our conscience on others. That is not what this time of reflecting is all about. I appreciate the information here and am looking forward to the Spring Holy Days! Love to all! Lisa

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