How To Test Bakelite With Baking Soda

Back in September 2015 I as cleaning a few Bakelite handled utensils when I ran into pesky thrift store sticker residue. So I grabbed my trusty box of baking soda and went about removing it. Almost immediately the baking soda started to turn nicotine yellow. My first thought was “Great, these are not Bakelite, they are just cruddy” *insert totally disappointed look*

So just to be sure I gave them a good cleaning, dried them off and tried baking soda again with a damp cotton swab. Again, it turned nicotine yellow.

All the handles I tested were red and a little worn. So I retrieved a piece I knew was positively Bakelite and was not red and tested on it. The baking soda turned yellow.

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. *insert smiley face*

So you ask, “how do I do this?!?”. Well it’s simple and pretty darn inexpensive, you likely have all you need on hand.

Moisten a cotton swab, dip it in baking soda and rub gently on the piece. Dish detergent can be added if a different texture is preferred. I personally like using the dish soap, it doesn’t seem as abrasive and has a paste like texture. The photos below show the test done without.

Note: As with any abrasive substances, do not rub hard and always test in an inconspicuous area.



My results:

As you can see, some pieces tested darker than others. The orange piece was a much lighter yellow.



So, after doing a few of my own tests I asked some friends for their input and if they would be willing to test some of their pieces.

Here are some results:

Jodi Bombardier Gussie Girl Dark Blue Bakelite Bangle Baking Soda Test


Photo and test provided by Jodi Bombardier of Gussie Gurl.


Photo and tests provided by Niki of Past to Pretty.

The following photo are of pieces I tested that I know are not Bakelite. There is a mix of different plastics from different eras and none of them had the reaction that Bakelite did.


This was the first blog I did on this. It is a condensed version of the original. After publishing this idea for the first time, I had a lot of requests for more information. So I published a follow up blog to this one with some great info I collected via research. It will also be republished shortly after this one.

Thanks for reading, I hope this tip is helpful. Be sure to read the follow up, it is pretty interesting and may answer some questions you have. Or maybe you would have something to add?

Angie, Child Of The 80’s


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