What are leavening agents?

God uses leaven to symbolize sin, 1 Cor. 5:1-8 . Sin puffs us up and grows within us spiritually just as physical leaven puffs up bread dough. God uses unleavened bread to symbolize a sinless life.

God tells us we are to put leavening agents as well as any leavened product out of our homes by the First Day of Unleavened Bread and keep it out for seven days. We are not to eat leavened food during that time. Exodus 12:15-17; Exodus 13:6-7. We are, however, to eat unleavened bread for seven days. Leviticus 23:6.

To understand exactly what is included in the leaven we are to avoid during the Days of Unleavened Bread, we must understand what is meant by “leaven”.

Leavening agents are substances that are used to puff up or produce fermentation, causing dough to rise. Yeast, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), and baking powder are such substances. Leavening can also refer to “sourdough” a naturally fermenting yeast batter. Foods that can contain the above leavening agents are bread, rolls, buns, cakes, some crackers, pancakes, waffles, doughnuts, certain cookies, cereals, etc. If you are in doubt about any product, check the list of ingredients. When you are not sure about a particular food — don’t eat it.

EGG WHITES are not considered to be a leavening agent.

YEAST EXTRACT on the labels of certain foods are derivatives of yeast that cannot leaven anything. It would be all right to use a product containing yeast extracts providing it does not contain an actual leavening agent.

BREWERS YEAST is a food supplement that contains all the elements of the B vitamin complex. It has no leavening properties.

CREAM OF TARTAR is not a leavening agent.

God tells us we must eat unleavened bread instead of leavened bread for seven days. Some stores carry unleavened bread and crackers. Always check the ingredients on the label to be sure. Just because a food looks unleavened, it still may contain a leavening agent. Matzos are a common brand of store-bought unleavened bread and commonly used for the Passover service. You may also enjoy making your own using unleavened bread recipes.


baker’s ammonia = ammonium carbonate = baking ammonia = hartshorn
baker’s yeast
baking powder = baking soda = bicarbonate of soda = sodium bicarbonate
bicarbonate of soda
double-acting baking powder = double-action baking powder
single-acting baking powder = single-action baking powder
sodium bicarbonate
sourdough starter

SPECIAL NOTE: Brewer’s Yeast, Torula Yeast and Yeast Extract are not leavening agents. Egg whites are also NOT leavening agents. Autolyzed yeast and cornstarch are also not leavening agents. Autolyzed yeast is used as a flavor enhancer and cannot be used for making bread.