Leavening Agents

A leavening agent (sometimes just called leavening or leaven) is a substance used in doughs and batters that causes them to rise. In the presence of moisture, heat, acidity, or other triggers the leavening agent reacts to produce gas (often carbon dioxide) that becomes trapped as bubbles within the dough. When a dough or batter is baked, it “sets” and the holes left by the gas bubbles remain. This is what gives breads, cakes, and other baked goods their soft, sponge-like textures.

     During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Yahweh commands that no leavening be eaten or found on our premises: “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth 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.You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread,” Exodus 12:19-20. Below are leavening agents found in a variety of foods that must be used up or removed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

     Incidentally, it is not acceptable to remove leavening from your property if you just bring it back once the Feast is over. The lesson is to remove leavening entirely from our lives, which represents that which promotes corruption. To bring it back at the end of the Feast subverts the whole purpose of the lesson.


Commonly used leavening agents include:


·    Yeasts, including:

·    baker’s yeast

·    active dried yeast                                                  

·    baking powder

·    baking soda

·    cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate)

·    sourdough

·    ammonium carbonate

·    ammonium bicarbonate

·    Potassium carbonate

·    Potassium bicarbonate

·    Dipotassium carbonate


Leavening agents are also in:


·    Preparation H (has yeast)

·    Cat and dog foods with yeast

·    Toothpastes with baking soda


False Leaven

Below are foods or ingredients not leavened, although some people mistaken them for leavening or leavened food. They pose no problem Biblically speaking:


Puffed cereals Some food products are “puffed up” by mechanical means but cannot be used as a contact spreading agent.  They are just puffed up by air and are not chemically leavened.  They include: popcorn, beaten eggs, and air puffed cereal like puffed rice or wheat. 


Brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is an inactive yeast, meaning the yeasts have been killed and have no leavening power. It is the yeast remaining after beer making. It is used as a nutrient supplement to increase the intake of B vitamins. Brewer’s yeast comes powdered (the most potent form), in flakes (best for health shakes), and in tablets.


Yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract When yeast cells die, they automatically break up, a process called autolysis in which the yeasts’ digestive enzymes break their proteins down into simpler compounds. What remains is a collection of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer.


Soda pop Although its name says “soda,” soda pop is not leavened as if with bicarbonate of “soda.” It is made with water that has been infused with carbon dioxide in a non-leavening process.