There are few pests that will cause more chaos and destruction than a rat infestation. But what’s the best way to get rid of them? And can home remedies like baking soda kill rats as effectively as store bought rodent poisons or calling pest control?
The baking soda method is often celebrated as one of the most effective ways to kill rats or mice and there are dozens of recipes available online that will teach you how to use it in your home created rat poisons.
However, there is more you need to consider before using baking soda or any other DIY poisons to solve your rat problem.
Table of Contents
- How does baking soda kill rats?
- Methods of making baking soda poison
- Is killing rats with baking soda humane?
- Should you use baking soda to get rid of rats?
- Alternate methods for making homemade rat poison
- Additional steps to remove rats and mice from your home
- Is homemade poison worth it?
How does baking soda kill rats?
Baking soda, bicarbonate soda or sodium bicarbonate as it’s also known scientifically is a naturally occurring chemical compound. As such it has been used by people all over the world for thousands of years for a variety purposes.
One of the most common uses it has is for baking which is where it gets its colloquial name from. Due to this ubiquitous nature as an ingredient in baked goods many people find the idea of using baking soda as a form of rat poison quite odd since if humans can consume it without issue, then why can’t rats?
The reason for this is quite simple. In the context of baking, baking soda is used as a leavener where it reacts in combination with an acid to create carbon dioxide gas. This gas is what causes bread left in a baking tin to rise.
This same chemical reaction occurs with stomach acids when baking soda is ingested. Carbon dioxide produced in this process will pass naturally as flatulence for humans. As a result of this people sometimes use baking soda as an antacid.
However, whilst this gas will pass harmlessly for humans, the same isn’t true for rodents. This is because rats and mice have not evolved to pass gas as easily and efficiently as humans. As a result, when a rat eats baking soda, natural poison in the form of carbon dioxide becomes trapped. This creates a fatal rupture or blockage in the rat’s digestive system.
Methods of Making Baking Soda Poison
Now that we know why baking soda makes for an effective rodent poison it’s time to put the theory into practice.
Baking soda based rat poison can come in many forms. How successfully yours will kill rats though depends heavily both on how you make the poison and how you implement it.
Fundamentals of Baking Soda Based Rat Poison
There are a variety of ways to create baking soda based rat poison. Each different recipe however falls back on a set of similar fundamental principles. If these aren’t followed, all the baking soda in the world would have very little effect on your rat problems.
Whilst many animals have a strong sense of smell, rats’ noses are particularly sensitive. This means that rat bait that smells appetising to the rat is essential for your poison to work. Due to this, the smell of baking soda must be masked, ideally with something sweet.
It’s crucial that when making your rat or mouse poison that you wear disposable gloves. This is again due to rodents having a sharp sense of smell but also because they fear humans. Due to this any poison you make must not come into contact with human skin as the scent of the oils it will absorb would cause rodents to avoid it all together.
Positioning of the rat poison is essential for its success. This is because if placed in an nonoptimal location the baking soda laced food may be ignored by the rats. As such placing the poison in an area with evidence of rodent activity such a rat droppings is advised.
Placing your poison on jar lids is also a good idea since this makes relocating these positions easier.
Finally, when placing poison, it is important that pets don’t eat it. Pets aren’t as susceptible to the effects of baking soda poisoning but ingesting large quantities can make them ill. Also, if your pets are eating the bait, then rats won’t be. For this reason, it is recommended that if pets are around that you place the poison in positions that they can’t reach but rats both can and will access. For example, crawl spaces or in small gaps behind furniture.
Peanut Butter Bait
Contrary to popular belief, whilst rats and mice love cheese they seem to love peanut butter even more. Thanks to this, peanut butter balls mixed with baking soda make very effective rat poison.
To make, all you need is an equal amount of peanut butter and soda. Simply mix the two together and roll them into balls. Finally, place them around your house and wait.
Sugar and Baking Soda
Sugar is an excellent substance to have laced with baking soda. This is because rodents like sweet things.
This is even more simple than the previous option. Simply mix a cup of baking soda with an equal amount of sugar. After which leave the mixture in a shallow dish for your unwanted guests to find.
Similarly, to the sugar and baking soda mixture a combination of baking soda and chocolate mix can be an effective poison for killing rats.
Like with sugar, the sweet smell and taste of the chocolate mix is ideal for poison intended to bait in and kill rats.
To make it, mix one cup each of flour/cornmeal, chocolate powder and baking soda. Then leave the resulting powder out in a jar lid or shallow dish.
An alternative is to combine it with the peanut butter technique. If using this method, add a small amount of peanut butter to the mixture and stir before rolling into balls. Using this technique will make your bait more appealing to the rats.
However, adding these extra ingredients runs the risk of reducing the amount of baking soda the rats would be consuming. To prevent this, ensure you only add a small amount of peanut butter and use slightly more baking soda to compensate.
Is killing rats with baking soda humane?
Whilst the answer to the question “does baking soda kill rats” may be yes, this is not a method that can be called humane. This is because the gas created from the reaction of sodium bicarbonate and the rats’ stomach acid becomes trapped in the rodent’s digestive system. Over a sustained period, this causes blockages and ruptures of these organs.
Unfortunately, this is not a quick process. The rats are required to eat multiple doses of the poisoned food within a few days for it to work. This means that before succumbing to the effects of the poison, the rat would have suffered great pain and discomfort for an extended period.
Should you use baking soda to get rid of rats?
Whilst this method can be seen as inhumane, an issue with most methods of poison-based pest control is that inevitably the rats will suffer in some way. Ethics aside however, how effective really is this method for ridding a home of rats?
The answer is that whilst any effectively implemented poison will put a dent in the rat population there is no guarantee that a baking soda based poison will kill them all. This is because not all of them will necessarily ingest a fatal dose. Additionally, the ones who survive may develop a tolerance to poisons of this nature.
There are also other issues with using poison in general. Firstly, before a poisoned rat dies it will become very ill and a sick rat will have a weaker immune system. This means that it will have a greater likelihood of contracting an illness and infecting your home with it.
Also, when rats are dying, they, like most animals, tend to hide away somewhere dark and isolated. In a home this typically ends up being within the interior of the walls themselves or anywhere else hard to get to. This immediately presents an issue since when it finally dies and starts decomposing the corpse will attract other pests, smell particularly awful and potentially spread disease. The realities of removing a dead rat from one of these hard-to-reach areas also means that you may have to rip up floorboards or make holes in your walls to track it down.
For these reasons it is highly recommended that when trying to remove rats from your home that you use multiple different types of poison and take other measures to ensure that by killing a rat that you aren’t merely replacing one problem with another. Here are some more common pest problems and solutions
Alternate methods for making homemade rat poison
Whilst baking soda is a popular choice, there are other homemade rat poisons that have proven to be effective.
These options can kill rats when used in isolation but implementing a combination of these and the baking soda recipes would likely produce the best result.
Additionally, these recipes are merely examples of how the poisonous agent in question can be deployed. As such if they are in any way impractical or ineffective for you, then variations of the ideas presented in this article may produce better results.
Plaster of Paris/Cement
Another common poison for killing rats is to lace food with plaster of Paris to use as bait. The reason for this is because when eaten in high enough doses the time it takes for poison of this type to kill a rat is much faster than something like baking soda.
The caveat however is that the food ingredients used for the bait must be dry since this technique relies on the plaster of Paris or cement hardening within the rat itself. This happens due to it mixing with the water inside the rats’ stomach.
As such food like dried mincemeat or a mixture of flour and sugar make the best baits for mixing this poison in with.
When a rat eats this poison, and the plaster hardens in its stomach it creates a blockage that the rat will neither be able to regurgitate or digest. Any rats who ingest this poison will then die from starvation or suffer a rupture in their digestive system.
Mashed Potato Flakes
This option is very simple since all you need is two shallow bowls within proximity to each other. In one bowl, add your potato flakes and in the other, add water. Then all you have to do is wait.
This method works similarly to the prior options in that it creates a rupture or blockage within rats’ digestive systems.
An advantage with potato flakes is that they’re safer for children and pets since it isn’t inherently hazardous to them. Additionally, the smell and taste of potato flakes are quite appealing to rats, so a complex mixture is not necessary.
However, this method is not as tried and tested as the others mentioned above or store-bought products with most evidence of its effectiveness being anecdotal.
Additional steps to remove rats and mice from your home
Whilst poisons can be useful for killing rats, they are most effective when employed in tandem with other techniques.
This is because whilst killing the rats might alleviate the immediate issue, if steps aren’t taken to prevent more rats from entering your home, you’ll soon find yourself back at step one. For this reason, it is recommended that alongside using poison that you use the following strategies:
A bait station is simply a small box, ideally with multiple access points, within which you place your poison. The reasons for using a bait station are threefold:
Firstly, it keeps the bait away from children or pets. This is important because even if your bait isn’t toxic for them, it’ll be useless for luring rats if it has been eaten. As a result of this, more potent and specialised products might become more viable for use in your home.
Another benefit is that they can make locating the dead rat easier. The reason for this is simply that they will typically go to a dark and isolated location which the inside of a bait station provides.
Most fundamentally however, it will also give the rat a place it feels safe to eat the poisoned food. This is important because if it feels safe it will likely consume a larger dose and die faster.
You could potentially make your own bait station from either some piping or a cardboard box. However, professionally made bait stations tend to be more secure due to better build quality and having locks.
When you’ve rid your home of rats an important subsequent step is to make your home as unappealing to them as possible. Whilst ensuring your garbage bins are inaccessible to them or keeping a clean and tidy household are good steps, they can only do so much.
To really make your house as unappealing as possible using fragrances that rats dislike is a wise idea. Like with getting rid of moths, bleach, vinegar and peppermint oil are particularly good choices. Similarly, to the poisoned bait though, how you deploy these scents is crucial to their effectiveness.
One way is to soak cotton balls with your scent of choice. Then leave a soaked cotton ball in areas of high rat activity along with access points to the house. An alternative to this is to spray the areas in question with a spray bottle filled with these substances.
If you discover a rat nest on your property, using bleach to disinfect it is very important in order to prevent diseases from the nest being contracted by you or members of your household.
Block their Entrances
Along with repellent a crucial step is to identify how and where the rats are entering your property. These access points can be as simple as an open doorway, a vent without grating or any small holes in your exterior walls.
For any entrances resulting from basic wear and tear, basic home maintenance can be an effective solution. In other scenarios however such as through plumbing, ventilation or doorways liberally employing the repellent techniques mentioned prior should be sufficient.
Is Homemade Poison Worth it?
Whilst baking soda does kill rats and homemade poisons can help you deal with a rat problem; ultimately, they may not be as lethal as specialised products from a store or online vendors like amazon. This is because these professionally made products are often specifically designed for pure lethality.
However, a product like this can be very dangerous to deploy in a household with pets or children. In which case home remedies can be useful.
For the best results supplementing poison with other pest removal products such as a snare trap, snap traps, and other kinds of rat traps may prove safer and more effective than using either in isolation.