Monday, November 1, 2010

Aluminum Is in Baking Powder?

by Kelley Lindberg

Just when I think I’ve got a handle on things… life pops up a little “gotcha” sign, just to remind me not to get complacent.

I’ve been allergic to aluminum and possibly a few other metals for about eight years now. I can’t wear antiperspirant because the element that makes antiperspirants work is an aluminum salt, and it started making me break out in an uncomfortable, itchy rash. I can’t wear a watch that has metal buckles or straps – same itchy rash. I also have to be really careful about the makeup I wear (mascara, eye shadow, eye liner, nail polish, etc.), since most brands use aluminum to add color, shine, and sparkle. In my case, aluminum-laden nail polish eats away my nails, and aluminum-tainted mascara makes my eyes burn and turn red. Not usually the look I’m going for.

I’ve eliminated aluminum in my food preparation, too. I avoid aluminum foil, I threw out all my aluminum pans years ago, and I read medicines to make sure they don’t contain aluminum.

So when my friend brought over some flour tortillas this week, she stumped me by saying, “I got this brand for you because it contains aluminum-free baking powder.”

“Aluminum-free what?” I asked. The look on my face must have been interesting. “There’s aluminum in baking powder? Why on earth would they put aluminum in baking powder?”

So I opened up my cabinet, took out my can of Clabber Girl Baking Powder, and sure enough, there it was: sodium aluminum sulfate.

It just goes to show… Sometimes you’re in such a habit of buying a particular brand, you never think to check the label. And here I thought I was on top of the whole label-reading thing. Humbling, isn’t it?

I probably bake something using baking powder about once a month – more so around the holidays. I don’t know if it’s been affecting me, but I do have my share of health issues, so it’s possible. But between my allergy and the studies that show a link between Alzheimer’s patients and increased levels of aluminum in their brains, I don’t want to ingest any more of that metal than absolutely necessary.

So I went to the grocery store yesterday and found Rumford brand aluminum-free baking powder – interestingly, it’s also made by Clabber Girl. And as a bonus, Clabber Girl uses a peanut-free facility to manufacture all of their baking powders, and they’re all kosher, too. You can read Clabber Girl’s peanut-free policy on their website (

My old can of baking powder is in the trash now, and my new can of Rumford aluminum-free baking powder is sitting on my shelf.

Whew. Just in time for those Thanksgiving pies…


Julie A said...

Wow, so true and humbling. has happened to me sometimes. Its worse when it is your child's teacher... :O Thanks Kelley for sharing

Anonymous said...

For more great food allergy information visit the Illinois Food Allergy Education Association at