By Ally Milligan, MS Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to gain insight as to whether or not you have high enough stomach acid is to take the baking soda stomach acid test. This post will teach you how to take this test at home.
Why Stomach Acid Is Important
Digestion is the golden child when it comes to health. It’s so important for tackling any health issue (even those seemingly unrelated ones like acne or hormonal imbalances).
Addressing digestion is the first place we usually start because… without good digestion, food and lifestyle changes won’t make much of an impact (learn all about how to improve your digestion naturally here).
While many people think they have too much stomach acid, here’s the reality: most people don’t have enough. Jonathan Wright, MD estimates that about 90% of Americans produce too little stomach acid.
Stomach acid (aka hydrochloric acid or HCl) production can be inhibited by stress, eating too many processed carbs, nutrient deficiencies, allergies, and/or excess alcohol consumption.
Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid
Very low stomach acid, called hypochlorhydria, can lead to many health problems. Without adequate HCl, your body can’t properly defend against pathogenic microorganisms, foods do not get fully broken down (which can actually cause acid reflux), and partially digested food stays in the stomach longer than it should.
This causes food to ferment, putrefy, and rancidify, which can cause a host of symptoms and health problems such as:
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Bloating, cramping, and/or gas
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Food sensitivities and/or allergies
- Dry skin or hair and/or brittle nails
- Hair loss in women
- Chronic fatigue
- Gut issues like IBS
How the Baking Soda Stomach Acid Test Works
The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) create a chemical reaction in your stomach. The result of this reaction is carbon dioxide gas, which causes burping.
So a burp within three minutes of drinking the baking soda solution may indicate an adequate level of stomach acid. A burp after three minutes (or not at all) may indicate a low level of stomach acid.
Is the Baking Soda Stomach Acid Test Accurate?
While this test is great for gaining insight into stomach acid levels, it is not the most scientific method and cannot be accurate enough to rule out low stomach acid completely.
Since there are many variables to control, it is important to take the test as soon as you wake up in the morning and for at least three (ideally five) consecutive mornings to get the most accurate data possible.
How to Take the Baking Soda Stomach Acid Test
- First thing in the morning (before eating or drinking), mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 4 ounces of cold water.
- Drink the baking soda solution.
Set a timer and see how long it takes you to burp. If you have not burped within five minutes, stop timing.
In theory, if your stomach is producing adequate amounts of stomach acid you’ll likely burp within two to three minutes. Any burping after three minutes may indicate a low acid level.
To make the process easy, we created a little printable timing sheet for you, which you can download below.
Think You Have Low Stomach Acid? Here’s What To Do
There are a few ways to increase stomach acid naturally.
- The gentlest way that may help stimulate acid production is to drink a glass of warm or room temperature lemon water upon waking (squeeze 1/2-1 organic lemon into a glass of water). Alternatively, use a capful of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in the same way.
- Our preferred, most effective way to increase stomach acid naturally is to use digestive bitters. Bitters, made from bitter herbs, naturally enhance the body’s secretion of HCl. Take 1/4 teaspoon before meals. Learn how to make your own digestive bitters or try our favorite brand of bitters, Urban Moonshine.
- The third and most powerful way to increase HCl is to take Betaine HCl, a naturally occurring amino acid compound usually derived from beets. While this can be done safely on your own with care, it is best to work with a healthcare professional to determine appropriateness and correct dosage.
Betaine HCl should not be taken by anyone who has ulcers, gastric inflammation, and/or is on medications, especially anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. corticosteroids, aspirin, ibuprofen, or other NSAIDs) (source). In general, we recommend herbal digestive bitters over Betaine HCl.
- Relieves gas, bloating & occasional heartburn
- Helps with appetite regulation
- Supports healthy liver function
- Traditionally used for skin health & gentle detox
- Encourages digestive juice production
Want more digestion tips? Here are six ways to improve your digestion naturally.
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. There is no additional cost to you. I only link to products I truly recommend and trust.
Hi! Do you count the small burps that occur as you’re drinking it?
If not, I did this and I burned at 4 1/2 minutes. However, I also took Pepto Bismol about two hours ago for immediate reflux from food. I’m assuming this could interfere? It’s really hard to find a time where I’m not on some anti-acid because my symptoms are severe.
Ally Milligan says
Hi Mel! Yes, the antacids will interfere with this test.
While I can’t give personalized advice because I don’t know your full history, I will say that if you are consistently on antiacids you VERY likely have extremely low stomach acid and therefore, this test isn’t even necessary. I would highly recommend the book "Why Stomach Acid is Good For You" which will give you some tools to find natural relief from indigestion. Here is the link: https://amzn.to/2JYdU2S
I hope that helps!
Sorry, I meant burped at 4 1/2 min*
Is there something to be said about burping nearly instantly? Possibly too much stomach acid?
I’m not sure!
Would did test work if just simply drinking plain water makes you burp a lot?? Because I ate wheat products for 4 days in a row as a challenge for blood test and since then I have a lot of gas. Just drinking plain water makes me burp numerous times in a row. It’s been a few weeks since I ate the wheat and I’m going to go see the gasterologist next week to talk about this gas. But I was wondering how the baking soda test could work if just plain water makes you burp tons?? Because I’m burping all day… PS. I think I have celiac.
Ally Milligan says
It will be difficult to interpret the results of this test while having such serious indigestion. I would wait until your digestion normalizes before attempting to take this test. That being said, being sensitive to wheat can certainly be related to having low stomach acid. I would recommend reading two books, Why Stomach Acid is Good for You and Wheat Belly, both linked below. Wishing you all the best in your health journey!
Why Stomach Acid is Good for You: https://amzn.to/2ywXOHV
Wheat Belly: https://amzn.to/2Zw4Etk
I took the stomach acid test and I didn’t burp for ten minutes. I highly suspect I have like stomach acid because I have 90% of the symptoms listed. I would like to make the digestive bitters receipt but I’m allergic to dandelions, dasies and golden rod as well as few other wild flowers. Is there a substitute for the dandelion? Or would the bitters recipe work without the dandelion? I would appreciate any advice.
Ally Milligan says
Hi Elaine! You should still get many of the benefits from the digestive bitters recipe without the dandelion, though if you are allergic to other wildflowers I would double-check that the other ingredients are safe for you to consume.
Instead of the digestive bitters, you may want to try diluting a capful of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water before meals.
Also, I would highly recommend the book "Why Stomach Acid is Good For You" which will give you some tools to find natural relief from indigestion. Here is the link: https://amzn.to/2JYdU2S
Jeanne Cormier says
I did burp test this morning on empty stomach. I had a small burp while downing the drink but no burp for over 5 minutes. Could that small burp possibly be from swallowing air? I plan to repeat test 2 more days
Have not been on acid reducing medication for months now.
Hi Jeanne, yes it could be from swallowing air. This isn’t a diagnostic test, but just meant to give you some insight. You can certainly try to take the test again to see if you get different results. Hope that helps.
I’m on aspirin.
Do you think digestive bitters are alright to take with aspirin?
Ally Milligan says
Hi Kristie! I would use digestive bitters with caution when taking aspirin on a regular basis since anti-inflammatory drugs can weaken the gut lining (digestive bitters may be too harsh). I would look for a healthcare practitioner to determine whether or not digestive bitters would be appropriate for you. Hope that helps!
Hello, I do take motrin when I am suffering migraines about 2 times a month. DOes this mean I can not take HCL Betaine?
Ally Milligan says
Hi Connie! While I can’t give personalized advice and know for sure, I would definitely avoid Betaine HCL for a few days before and after taking Motrin if not longer. In your case, I’d strongly suggest working with a healthcare practitioner! Hope that helps!
Loretta Warren says
Someone Said This Test Works With Tap Water Rather Than Bottled Water. Is This Accurate. I Want To Do It But 5 Days Of Tap Water,When I Haven’t Used Tap Water Since Early 70’s May Be Detrimental To My Health.
Ally Milligan says
Hi Loretta, you can use tap water if your tap water is high quality. Otherwise, I’d recommend using bottled water. If you haven’t had tap for years, it wouldn’t make sense to use tap for this test. Hope that helps!
I burp quickly when I drink this. I suffer big time with reflux and am convinced I have low stomach acid levels. How does the burp test tell me I have sufficient acid?
Ally Milligan says
Hi Kelly – I would recommend the book Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You: https://amzn.to/2FU3grZ or to work with a health practitioner to gain further insight into your specific symptoms.
I thought burping within 3 minutes meant enough acid reflux. I’m not following how burping quickly after the test is interpreted as low acid. Just wanted to clarify. I took the test myself and burped at about 2 minutes and few secs. What does that mean?
The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) create a chemical reaction in your stomach. The result of this reaction is carbon dioxide gas, which causes burping. So a burp within three minutes of drinking the baking soda solution may indicate an adequate level of stomach acid. A burp after three minutes (or not at all) may indicate a low level of stomach acid. Hope that helps!
This doesn’t make sense to me either. Kelly said she burped “right away” meaning high stomach acid. You told her it seems like she has low. I thought burping right away meant high acid, burping after a few minutes meant low.
Hi Michelle, sorry I must have misread Kelly’s comment! As detailed in the post and all other comments – burping within the 3 minutes generally indicates adequate stomach acid (though please note that this is not a diagnostic test – it is just meant to give you some clues). Burping after three minutes can be a sign that you have low stomach acid. Hope that helps!
I burp within 30 seconds after consuming. I was on a script antacids for 7 years. They no longer work. After a battery of texts , I have to have gastric bypass
Lindsay Feliciano says
So i did this test this morning and i did burp within 3 mins but also after. Everything i drink makes me burp so im not sure what to think.
It took me 20 minutes to burp. Is that a possible outcome? Or did I do the test incorrectly somehow?
Hello. I have been suffering from gas, belching and bloating for last one year. I’ve been on PPIs for a few years but they stopped working on me. I belch more after taking PPIs. Doctors have done 4 endoscopies with conclusion of Antral gastritus. I’m on medications that help with food motility, but I find not much relief. I’m intolerant to everything now and cane only eat rice. Docs told me it’s due to anxiety, but my anxiety is only due to food. I’m also on seratonin every night and anti anxiety pills during the day, they help to calm me down but still not helping with the underlying cause. Do I have too much stomach acid or too little? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.
Hi Aditi, while I can’t give personalized advice, you may have low stomach acid. I would recommend the book Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You to learn more: https://amzn.to/2FU3grZ
I took baking soda with water with an empty stomach in the morning and i brub 2 times.
What does it indicates and also daily after lunch i create an headache after 2 hours. And also create lots of gases with an sour throat.
How should i deal with that?
Hi Amit! I can’t offer you personalized advice, but I would recommend the book “Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You” for more information. You can find it here.
Hi I’m currently being treated fir suspected ulcer and have been taking lansoprazole 30mg it has stopped the severe pain but I’m know having to cope with horrible symtons of what you’ve described. So wondering if I now have low acid .
Is it safe to take the test ? X
Hi Pippa – I would consult with a medical professional due to your past medical history. If you’re curious about low stomach acid, I would recommend the book Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You, found here.
I did the baking soda and water test and didn’t burp within 5 minutes. I’ve been taking hci, pancreatin, pepsin (thorne b.p.p.) like 4 pills with every meal for the past 6 months and it is the only thing that has helped me after every meal. If I don’t take those pills I get an upset stomach. Anything else you suspect?
Hi Adam – It sounds like you have low stomach acid, but I would consult a medical professional. To learn more, I would recommend the book Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You, found here.
Thank you for the wonderful information. For the test, could room temperature water work, or does I take have to be cold?
Hi Rachel – room temperature water should work fine.
I did this test 3 mornings in a row and on days 1 and 3 I burped after 1 minute, and on day two I felt like I needed to burp immediately, had a small burp at 1 minute, and a bigger one at 3 1/2 minutes, How should I interpret these results?
In general we eat an excellent diet and are super careful about our digestive health. I used to have low stomach acid several years ago, but worked on it for quite awhile and improved my digestion. This time I’m just trying to pinpoint the cause of a severe bout of acid reflux I had this week out of the blue. Thank you!!
Hi Hannah – this is not a clinical test so I wouldn’t look too far into your results if your indigestion is just a random occurrence. If you suspect you still have low stomach acid, I recommend the book Why Stomach Acid is Good For You for more information. Hope that helps!
Bailey Russell says
What does it mean if the baking soda test makes you want to throw up? Day 1 I almost threw up, and no burp until after 3 mins and it was a small one. Day 2 I threw up after 1 minute, twice. Also, I’m not really a burpy person. Thanks!
Hi Bailey! This isn’t a clinical test, but if you are concerned that you may have low stomach acid I would recommend the book Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You, found here to learn more.
Terry Del Casale says
I just read this article, and plan to take the Baking Soda test. However, I am currently taking Nexium (a PPI drug) that is already reducing my stomach acid. So, my question is, should I ramp-off the Nexium first, before taking the test? Or go ahead and take it, on Nexium? I do not want to stay on Nexium for too long, I’ve been on it for about a month now, with mixed results. I have had an Endoscopy recently, and my Gastro doc diagnosed my with GERD, Gastritis and a Haital Hernia. He Rx’s Nexium and/or Dexilant. Kindly advise. Thank you!
Hi Terry! This is not a diagnostic test, just one to help give you some insight as to whether or not you have low stomach acid. I would wait until you were not on a drug that reduces stomach acid if you want the most accurate results, but I would encourage you to work with your healthcare professional.
Sheila foster says
My Doctor directed me to this article because my bloodwork shows potential low stomach acid. I work in a high stress job 🙂 Do you know if it would be ok to combine some of these natural treatment suggestions? Such as the lemon water in the morning and the bitters around lunch. I take a lot of vitamins but I am not one to try new items easily. I just bought the bitters and only took 1/2 of the recommended dose to make sure I handled it ok. Thank you.
While I can’t offer personalized nutrition advice, lemon water is very gentle on the system. You can experiment with the bitters to see how you feel, but as for vitamin interactions, I would work with a practitioner or reach out to the bitters company directly. Hope that helps!
Anaiah Richards says
Hi Ms. Ally,
I think I might have celiac disease or some gastrointestinal Problems because when I eat my stomach hurts, I get gasy, I have headaches, I get heartburn, and my joints hurt often. I’m also only 14, so I was wondering if age could have anything to do with it. Or if you know a reason that this could occur?
I would recommend the book, Why Stomach Acid is Good for You, to learn more!
I am really not a burpy person. I’ll burp if I have a carbonated drink too quickly or when I’m nauseated. Do you have any insight on whether not burping but having nearly immediate and constant gut sounds (they settled a bit after 15-20 min) is an indicator of adequate stomach acid?
Hi Ashley – this is just a general test to give you some clues, not a diagnostic test by any means. If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms of low stomach acid (and suspect you have low stomach acid), I would work with a healthcare practitioner to figure out the underlying cause. This book might help!
Hi, when I did this test, I burped twice 5-10 seconds after swallowing. I then burped again 6 minutes later. So I was wondering, does this mean super high stomach acid, or does the initial burps seconds after swallowing not count and mean I have low stomach acid.
Hi James – the initial ones would count in terms of the test. As mentioned, this is not a diagnostic test – it is meant to give you some clues. If you are experiencing the symptoms of low stomach acid, I recommend working with a healthcare practitioner and the book “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You” which will give you some tools to find natural relief from indigestion. Here is the link: https://amzn.to/2JYdU2S Hope that helps!
After the test, I don’t burp within 7 mins. But, if I then drink another glass of water, I burp immediately. Any advice?
Hi Danny, you should interpret the results based on the test only, not anything you eat or drink after that. That being said, this is not a medical test, it is simply meant to give you some insight. I suggest working with a healthcare practitioner directly or reading the book Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You for more info! Hope that helps!
Rebekah Hock says
Hi there, is the test possibly affected by the meal you had the night before?
Taking the test at 7am one day one my result was over 10 min.
But on day two it was just 1 min. But we had a Chinese takeaway meal and an alcoholic drink the night before (an unusual treat)
I’m going to carry on for a few more days to get a more accurate result I think.
Hi Rebekah – this is not a diagnostic test, but just meant to give you some clues. I would try taking it a few times to get more data points. Hope that helps!
Rebekah Hock says
Thanks so much, I’ve now done four days.
Two of those I hadn’t burped after 8+ minutes.
The other two days I burped at 1.06 minutes.
I will carry on for the rest of the week. But those results are so completely different it’s confusing 😁
Carol Woolley says
I had silent reflux, pills and food sometimes get stuck in my esophagus, indigestion, looser stools, bloating and gas. I started the apples cider vinegar and digestive bitters and the indigestion went away. extreme bloating 3 to 4 hours continued when eating animal protein. I am up to 3000mg HCL with pepsin for meals with animal protein which greatly decreases the bloating and discomfort. however I still have silent reflux and gas with very soft stools. Do I need more HCL ?am I hurting myself doing acv, digestive bitters and HCL w/pepsin?
Hi Carol – I am unable to give personalized advice though I would strongly suggest working with a healthcare practitioner to find the root cause of your indigestion. I would also recommend the book Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You. Best of luck!
Paolo Abelita says
Hello. I am on PPIs.. How long should I stop using these pills before I can effectively take the test?
Hi Paolo, unfortunately I can’t give personalized medical advice. I would recommend working with your healthcare provider before going off any medication.
Thanks for this. Did the test and finally burped after 6 mins….will continue for the next 4 days and try doubling the dosage. Am a 74 yr old male so the result makes sense. Thanks again…..
Happy it offered some insight!
Mine took 48 minutes!
Does one burp counts which I got just in few seconds after drinking ? or it requires lots of burping? because after that one burp in 5seconds, I didn’t get single burp for next 20mins.
One burp would count.
I burp one or two very small burps within a few seconds of the first or second sip but not again until 7 minutes later. I think if you burp immediately it could be the bicarbonate of soda reacting to the acid already in the esophagus before it’s reached the stomach.
I get the same. I read somewhere else small burps from swallowing air while drinking the solution don’t count
Hi, I did the Baking Soda test on 3 different days. No burp within 5 mins or after. I told my Gastro about it and he said it is not scientific but ask me to test on my wife. Since I am having GI problem and my wife does not, she tried. She also has no burping before and after 5 mins. When I ask my Gastro Doctor whether is there official test for low stomach acid, he says there’s none….I am lost now.
Hi Kenneth – the test is meant to provide some insight but is not scientific. I would highly recommend the book Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You for further insight and guidance along with the advice of your gastroenterologist.
Hi, just plain warm/hot water makes me burp a LOT. Still if I drink room-temp water it often makes me nauseous or just really uncomfortable. Does high stomach acid make it difficult to drink regular water? Last I did the test I burped almost immediately. So I’m wondering if that’s why it’s hard to drink water.
Hi Esperanza – drinking water should not cause digestive distress so I would definitely work with a healthcare practitioner to get to the root cause of the issue.
I like the fact that you keep suggesting conducting with a
Healthcare provider….but they all push PPIs and not interested in any natural solutions
Hi Joyce, I know it is frustrating – but there are healthcare practitioners who like to offer natural solutions before jumping to PPIs – they can be difficult to find but they do exist! This is a good database to search for a naturopathic doctor.
I burped after 10 minutes… but I’ve been getting acid reflux so I take gaviscon and pepcid occasionally. My problem is, I dont think its acid reflux due to high stomach acid, its due to low stomach acid… so how can I know accurately? When I take HCL Betaine, it helps me digest food, but I still get the reflux and esophagitis so it narrows throat and I need to take gaviscon. I dont even know if its safe to take HCL betaine while eating then 2-3 hours later take gaviscon. My digestive system is a mess right now, and I’ve tried everything I can think of. PPI’s and H2 blockers make me feel very weak, muscles ache and joints hurt very bad, and I cant digest food… Ive had an MRI, CT Scan, and Xrays to try and find ulcers but they say there are none. I’ve been very confused the last 3 months.
Hi Kelan, we’re so sorry to hear about your health struggles. We cannot offer individualized advice, but would strongly suggest working with a healthcare provider to get to the root cause of these issues. Best of luck.
Hello, I am a little confused by this, so would love some advice. If one has alot of burping in general (and we are trying to understand what is causing the burping)……………..does this mean they have alot of stomach acid, because doing the soda test – if one has burping within the 3 minutes it could indequate adequate stomach acid… so if someone has alot of burping naturally does this mean their stomach is highly acidic and therefore needs to avoid acidic foods and definitely avoid apple cider vienager etc….. or is this not how it works…. thank you
Hi Philippa – burping a lot does not necessarily mean that you have high stomach acid – having high stomach acid is actually rather uncommon. I would encourage you to check out the book Why Stomach Acid is Good for You and work with a healthcare practitioner to get to the root cause of excessive burping.
Lisa saxton says
I know you can’t give medical advice but in your opinion do you think I should not take betaine HCL with ulcerative colitis? I have low stomach acid and UC so was hoping taking betaine HCL would help ? If you can give me any advice it would be appreciated . Thank you Lisa
Hi Lisa, sorry but we cannot advise you on this but generally it is not recommended to take HCL with ulcers. I would seek individualized support from a healthcare professional.
Lauren Abrams says
When you suggest lemon water, bitters, ACV or HCL, how long is a person usually supposed to take either for before they start seeing improvements? Or how long is the suggested amount of time?
I did the baking soda test and NEVER burped.
I am on thyroid medications and tried lemon water for about 5 days and it made me feel terrible, very brain foggy, tired fatigued after drinking.
Hi Lauren – it really depends on the person, so I would encourage you to work with a health practitioner. As a rule of thumb, I generally encourage people to stick with diet or lifestyle changes for at least 3 months before expecting to see improvements, though it really depends on the person.
I tried this test today and before a minute even passed I was running to the bathroom throwing it up. I don’t know what is going on with my body. I am pregnant and have never had any stomach acid issues before this.
In the morning I vomit up yellow bile every day but at night I drink ACV and it helps the acid reflux… Seems like AM I have too much but PM I have too little?
Hi Kay – since you’re pregnant and have not had any stomach acid issues before this, it may be pregnancy related and not necessarily a stomach acid issue, though I would consult a qualified healthcare professional to get personalized advice.