Baking soda by itself does not kill ants but it may help repel them from a particular area for a few days. Ants do not like to be around baking soda but there is limited scientific proof of its effectiveness as a repellent.
Baking soda is something most of us have in our house especially if you are into baking stuff at home. But have you ever wondered what that powdery stuff is?
Let’s take a deeper look at this topic…
What is Baking Soda?
Baking Soda started to become a household name for cooking and baking mainly because of the sharp manufacturing and distribution strategy of Dr. Austin Church and John Dwight, who founded the Arm & Hammer company in 1846.
Baking soda is the common name of the compound sodium bicarbonate which is naturally available worldwide. It is an alkaline white powder that reacts with acidic mediums and produces carbon dioxide which helps in rising the batter or dough that further helps the food items to be fluffy.
How Does Baking Soda Affect Ants?
The working theory is when ants eat baking soda, their body pH gets affected adversely. Also, the baking powder reacts with the ant digestive system acid and produces carbon dioxide. This ultimately dries out their body from the inside and ends up killing them.
Some theories even claim that their body explodes after the baking soda reacts with the stomach acid which is unlikely to happen under any circumstances.
The theory also dwells on the fact that as ants are social insects, the worker ants will bring back the baking soda-mixed food items into the ant colony, and as a result, a major chunk of the population will feed upon it and die.
What to use alongside baking soda to get rid of ants:
- Utilizing Vinegar, water, and essential oil spray
- Applying Talcum powder at the ant infestation sites
- Dish soap and water spray
- Applying boiling water down the anthills
Does Baking Soda Kill Ants?
While the theory that ants die by eating baking soda mixed with sugary food sounds great, there is little to no scientific evidence that baking soda kills ants.
Even if let’s say it works for argument’s sake, there are loads of ifs and buts involved. It is not guaranteed that it will bring you positive results especially if you want to kill the ants and not deter them.
Why Baking Soda is Ineffectual Against Ants
1. Ants Are Not Naturally Attracted to Baking Soda
Firstly ants won’t naturally get attracted to baking soda, you need to mix them up properly with powdered sugar.
Also, you have to do a little experimenting with the right proportion of baking soda and sugar you use to find the ideal mixture that will help in entrapping the smell of the baking soda.
2. Baking Soda Has to be Spread Where Ants Forage
You need to put the baking soda in a place where ants generally loiter around and hope that they will pick the food up and take it home.
3. Ants Might Not Eat the Baking Soda
After bringing it to their nest, the ants need to eat the baking soda for it to be effective.
The problem with this process is it’s not a 100% proven process. It is true that ants dislike the smell of baking soda and get repelled by it but to expect that they will consume food mixed with baking soda and then die, that’s not at all a foolproof process by any means.
Even if the theory is true there is just no significant proof to back it up. There is a probability that ants can die when forcefully exposed to baking soda however if you really want to kill ants, there are more effective commercial pesticides available.
Related Article: How to Get Rid of Ants in Toilet and Bathroom
Should You Use Baking Soda to Repel Ants?
If you dont want to use chemical insecticides to get rid of ants then you can experiment with baking soda. It is completely natural, cheap, and does help in keeping ants away.
If you keep using baking soda regularly you can notice a change of ant infestation in the house, and if you are lucky they can end up moving to another location.
Most of the natural items that are used to get rid of ants, including baking soda, contain a strong essence of their own.
This strong smell affects the smell picking up the ability of the ants who possess a highly articulate and vibrant smell system. So they avoid the places of the house with such strong scents.
However, the problem with that is, strong scents don’t last a long time. They can work best for a few days or so but will need to be applied at least every week to see some proper results.
So sure baking soda does help in repelling ants from your house and if you want to stick to the use of natural items to get rid of ants, you need to apply them regularly in places where the ants have got the maximum chances of moving around.
This can include:
- Areas in the kitchen including the cabinets, sink adjacent area, dining table, etc.
- Places where you store the food, laundry, and daily kitchen wastes.
- Garden, damp basements, and garage.
You can even consider mixing multiple natural ant repellents like vinegar, essential oils together with baking soda and spraying them in the susceptible areas of the house.
How to Repel Ants Without Baking Soda
1. Ant Baits
If you really want to try and kill ants through homemade ant baits made of baking soda and food then why not use actual ant baits that are available in the market and are known to work commercially?
Yes, they are not natural but ant baits are something that takes a bit of time to work but does serve the job well in most instances. Ant baits are known to contain borax in them which can be highly toxic for ants and other insects.
Another bonus is borax takes time to impart effect which just gives the ants enough time to carry the ant bait in their nest and as a result, a huge amount of the ant population ends up consuming it.
2. Diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth not only helps in getting rid of ants but insects in general. It’s inexpensive, widely available, and if you dont want to go for chemical ant killers, it’s just perfect for you cause it’s completely natural. It’s been used to get rid of slugs, insects, and bed bugs for decades.
As the ants come in contact with the Diatomaceous earth, the crystalline powder penetrates their exoskeleton and dries them up from the inside. They ultimately will die from dehydration.
You can sprinkle them around the house and in the garden. You can also directly apply them into the ant mounds and on their nests, if you can locate them somehow.
Always use horticultural grade Diatomaceous earth and use a mask while applying it around the house for extra precaution. It can take a few weeks to notice its effect.
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Even though baking soda is a very popular remedy for deterring ants there is just not enough evidence available to say that it is efficacious.
It may end up working on a certain instance or not end up working at all, in short, its effectiveness in killing ants does not come close to other commercially available options of controlling ants hence if you just want to experiment with baking soda and aim to repel ants from your house then you can go ahead and try it out.
Ants hate the smell of baking soda and will surely be repelled by its regular use around the house.
But if you are looking for a bit long-term solution to this nuisance, then using ant baits, diatomaceous earth, or calling professional pest control will be the way to go.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.