How To Keep Garlic Powder From Getting Hard

Whether you are using it to help marinate your steak or in a delicious spaghetti bolognese, garlic powder is one of the best things to have in your kitchen. However, it does seem to harden up easily. Have you wondered, why does garlic powder get hard? 

Garlic powder gets hard because it absorbs moisture easily. When the garlic powder absorbs moisture, the moisture bonds the powder together forming a solid. The process of attracting and absorbing moisture is called hygroscopy.

In this article, we’re taking a look in complete detail why your garlic powder might be getting hard. We’re also taking a look at how you can prevent it. In addition, I’ll inform you what to do if you end up with garlic powder that became hard.

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3 Reasons Why Your Garlic Powder Goes Hard

The first step to preventing anything from happening is to know the cause. So, when it comes to keeping your garlic powder from becoming hard, you first need to know why it happens. The following are three reasons why your garlic powder goes hard:

  1. Exposure to moisture.
  2. Keeping the garlic powder for too long.
  3. Holding the garlic powder in a jar or unsealed container.

Those are the three most common causes for this problem. It’s important to take a quick look at each three in more detail before moving on to discuss how you can prevent your garlic powder from going hard.

garlic powder getting hard
Garlic powder starting to get hard


This article focuses on garlic powder, but moisture affects almost every single spice. This is because spices are hygroscopic. Basically, what hygroscopic means is, the moisture can be easily absorbed 1.

Anything with the hygroscopic property can pull moisture out of the air rather than simply just be affected by it at random. Calcium chloride is so hygroscopic, it eventually dissolves in the water it absorbed.


This might seem very unobvious because many times you keep spices for months and years without even realizing it. The ages spices are always okay but in reality, the longer you keep your spices, the more likely they are to clump.

The average lifespan of spices is around 2-3 years. That’s if they are kept in airtight containers or plastic bags and stored at good temperatures. If there is even a slight imperfection in the packaging, the spices probably won’t last three years.

Unsealed Jar/Container

This cause is associated to the previous two reasons because it contributes to them. We already mentioned that if there is a slight imperfection in the packaging you could get weevils in your spices but before that happens your spices might end up getting hard.

Once you have opened the garlic powder, you want to keep it in a sealed jar or container 2. If you don’t do this, your garlic will become hard quickly. This is especially true if you live in a humid climate.

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garlic powder in unsealed jar
Garlic powder in unsealed jar

How To Keep Garlic Powder From Clumping

In the section, we’re going to be talking about the main focus of this article, how to prevent your garlic powder from clumping up and becoming hard.

Trust me, we all know the feeling, just before you’re about to make an amazing dinner you find out the garlic powder is too hard to be used. Let’s try and prevent this problem.

Here are 4 easy tips on how to prevent your garlic powder from becoming hard.

  1. Use an airtight jar or container.
  2. Store the garlic powder in a cool and dry area.
  3. Use rice in the jar.
  4. Do not buy garlic powder or any spice in bulk.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at each of these steps in a little bit more detail.

Use An Airtight Jar Or Container

This step applies to people who buy their garlic powder in packets or sachets and then transfer it. Always make sure wherever you transfer the garlic powder to, it has a proper seal to it 3.

This is why it’s recommended you do not throw away your old spice jars because they are specifically designed to keep moisture out of the jar. 

If you don’t have any spare spice jars lying around you can go to superstores like Walmart or even the dollar store.

In addition, they sell many decorative ones on Amazon at affordable prices without leaving the house. You can check them out by clicking right here, spice jars. Having spare spice jars comes in handy for many items, it’s worth it.

Store In A Cool and Dry Area 

The next step to preventing your garlic powder from becoming hard is to store it in an area just right.

You don’t want to store your garlic powder in an area having heat like next to the stove 4. You will be surprised at how many people makes this mistake. In addition, if you have a spice rack, make sure it’s not in the sunlight.

Try storing your garlic powder in a cabinet or a dedicated spice cupboard which is dark and dry.

Use Rice In The Jar

This is probably the most important tip to preventing your garlic powder from clumping and becoming hard. In fact, I won’t be surprised if some of you already do this for your salt.

Place a few grains of rice, not more than a teaspoon, into the spice jar along with your garlic powder. Rice also has hygroscopic properties but it’s more efficient at pulling in moisture than garlic powder. The rice absorbs the moisture more efficiently and keeps the spices dry.

With the rice in the jar, you can give it a good shake every now and then. This will stop any hardening in its tracks if it’s already started.

Don’t Buy Garlic Powder In Bulk

Garlic powder has a shelf life of two to three years 5. Even though it lasts a long time, don’t buy many at once. The powder goes a long way and you’ll be surprised how long one container can last. If you buy a bunch of containers at once to save money, odds are one of them will turn old.

dry garlic powder

What To Do If Your Garlic Powder Gets Hard

Let’s say you took the necessary precautions or not, and discovered your powder clumped together. In this section, we’re taking a look at some things you can do if your garlic powder gets hard.

  • Place the closed jar or container in hot water to heat it up. 
  • Open the jar and scrape the garlic powder with a utensil like a small spoon. Loosen the garlic powder as much as you can. 
  • Place a teaspoon of uncooked rice into the jar and shake it vigorously.
  • If your garlic powder is still clumpy when removed from the jar, place it in a plastic bag and smash it with a steak tenderizer.

My favorite solution is the one with adding rice because I found this works the best. Using a steak tenderizer is also a great option but you first have to remove the pice from the jar. In addition, the plastic bag can break and create a mess.

If the garlic powder was stored in a container, it can still be scraped and shook up with the rice inside.

Garlic powder fun fact: Garlic powder is made from dehydrated garlic cloves. The cloves are ground up into fine particles 6.

Wrapping Up The Hard Garlic Powder

Spices like garlic powder can take ordinary food and turn it into amazing dishes 7. They can impress friends and boost your confidence in cooking. It’s important to prevent garlic powder from going hard rather than to deal with the problem when it occurs.

Always remember to store it properly away from heat and sunlight. Keep it in a dark cabinet and don’t buy too much at once so it doesn’t get old.

Read Next – More Food Storage

4 Ways To Tell If A Papaya Has Ripened

This Is The Best Way To Store Your Olive Oil

This Is How To Store Cinnamon


Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. ScienceDirect: Hygroscopy[]
  2. Iowa State University: Herbs and Spices – part ll[]
  3. University of Delaware: Using Herbs And Spices[]
  4. Ohio State University Extension: Pantry Food Storage[]
  5. Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources: Food Storage[]
  6. University of Delaware: September: Garlic[]
  7. University of Nebraska: Add a Little Spice (& Herbs) to Your Life![]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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