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Citric Acid Uses

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The dominant use of citric acid is as a flavoring and preservative in food and beverages, especially soft drinks.[6] Within the European Union it is denoted by E number E330. Citrate salts of various metals are used to deliver those minerals in a biologically available form in many dietary supplements. The buffering properties of citrates are used to control pH in household cleaners and pharmaceuticals. In the United States the purity requirements for citric acid as a food additive are defined by the Food Chemical Codex, which is published by the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP).


Citric acid can be added to ice cream as an emulsifying agent to keep fats from separating, to caramel to prevent sucrose crystallization, or to recipes in place of fresh lemon juice. Citric acid is used with sodium bicarbonate in a wide range of effervescent formulae, both for ingestion (e.g., powders and tablets) and for personal care (e.g., bath salts, bath bombs, and cleaning of grease). Citric acid is also often used in cleaning products and sodas or fizzy drinks.



Citric acid is a naturally occurring acid found primarily in several varieties of fruits and vegetables, with citrus fruits such as lemons and limes containing the highest amounts. This organic acid has many uses, including as a food additive/preservative, ingredient in cosmetic products and as a powerful cleaning agent. Citric acid can be purchased as a white crystalline powder.

Food Additive
Citric acid can be found in many different processed foods and soft drinks. It is an effective organic preservative that can be found on food/drink labels as "E330." Citric acid also has a pleasant citrus flavor that works well in soft drinks.

Water Softener
Citric acid's chemical properties as a weak organic acid make it a powerful water softener. It works by breaking down the trace amounts of metal found in water, making it an ideal all-natural choice for treating hard water.

Citric acid cleans calcium, lime, and scale deposits. Use citric acid in your regular maintenance of your water softener to restore your media. Citric acid is safe and environmentally friendly.

Citric acid cleaners have no offensive odors; instead, they give off a pleasant fruit-like smell when dissolved. They are also nontoxic and therefore safer to use around the home. The acid is added to the brine and causes the iron to dissolve.

Household Cleaner
Many all-natural household cleaners, such as kitchen and bathroom sprays, contain a small percentage of citric acid to help clean hard water stains and kitchen messes. The citrusy smell of the acid is pleasant, so it works well as both a cleaner and a deodorizer. A common household use of lemon juice is to use it to clean hard water and mineral deposits from shower doors, sinks and toilets.

Bath Bombs
You can make your own bath bombs---fizzy, effervescent bath soap/salt---by using citric acid. The citric acid is completely safe to use in the bathtub. The "Alka Seltzer-like" fizzy effect is caused by the citric acid reacting with the water and other ingredients of the bomb, such as baking soda, witch hazel and fragrances.

Carpet Cleaner
Applying a 10 percent pharmaceutical-grade citric acid to discolored carpeting can help to remove stains, according to the In fact, many carpet cleaning companies use this very solution for cleaning carpets in homes and businesses.

Citric acid is a relatively common ingredient used in cosmetics products to balance the pH levels. According to, small amounts of citric acid can be found in shampoos, body wash, face cleansers, nail polish, hand soap and other cosmetics products. Some people may be sensitive to citric acid, so use caution when applying a cosmetic product containing the acid.

Citric acid is naturally found in citrus fruits, including oranges, limes and lemons. It is usually produced in powdered form and it easily mixes into liquid. Citric acid has many household uses, and there are many products in which it is an ingredient.


Citric Acid is used to chelate copper in formulations used to kill algae in reservoirs and natural waters. The citric acid chelates the copper, then slowly releases it resulting in extended time of effectiveness.
Animal Feed

Citric acid is used in animal feeds to form soluble, easily digestible chelates of essential metal nutrients, enhance response to antibiotics, enhance flavor to increase food uptake, to control gastric pH and improve the efficiency of the feed.
In the slaughter operation, sodium citrate is used to prevent the coagulation or clotting of fresh blood. Calcium is an essential mineral for the clotting mechanism to occur. Citrate chelates the calcium, thus preventing the coagulating from taking place.

Air-cured tobacco smoke is often alkaline, giving harsh and irritating flavors. Citric acid and other components are added to balance the flavors.
Citric acid is also used in cigarette paper to control the burn rate. This ensures the tobacco and paper burn at the same rate.
Circuit Boards

Citric acid can be used to clean circuit boards prior to soldering. Although more costly than mineral acids, citric acid has the advantage of being environmentally friendly.
Concrete Admixture

Citric acid is added to concrete formulations to retard the set rate and reduce the amount of water required. In the retarding the set rate, the Citrate interferes with the hydration of portland cement. In its role as a water reducer, citrate acts as a dispersants, reducing the viscosity of the cement slurry so less water is needed to make a workable mixture.

The largest industrial application for citrates is the detergent industry. In liquid detergents, sodium citrate is used as a builder, to increase the effectiveness of the surfactants, due to its high solubility and bio-degradability.
In powder detergents, sodium citrate is used as a co-builder and processing aid. Sodium citrate also contributes alkalinity to enhance surfactant performance. The environmentally friendly nature of sodium citrate is a major factor in the use of citrates in the detergent industry.
Enhanced Oil Recovery

Aluminum citrate is used for in-situ gelling of polymers in polymer flooding operations. The citrate controls the rate of availability of the aluminum ion.
Environmental Aspects

Many of the following industrial applications utilized citric acid due to its environmentally friendly properties.. Citric acid is found throughout nature in many fruits and vegetables and is a natural component in metabolic processes. Citric acid is highly biodegradable and is an affirmed GRAS food additive.
Fertilizer Micronutrients

Citric chelates of iron, copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc are used to correct soil deficiencies because they are soluble in water at normal soil pH. Metal sulfates are dissolved in water and citric acid followed by neutralization with ammonia. The soluble citrate chelate promotes the transfer of the metal nutrient into the plant's root or leaf system the biodegradability of citric acid is important for this application.
Fossil-Fuel Power Plants

Ammoniated citric acid is used to clean metal oxides from the water side of steam boilers with a two-step single-fill operation the resulting surface is clean and passivated. The cleaning solution can easily and safely be disposed of by incineration or liming.
Hard Surface Cleaners

Citric acid is used in liqued hard surface (floor). Citrate acts as a scale-dissolver, buffer and as an anti-redeposition agent.
Hair Shampoos and Rinses

Citric acid is added to hair care formulations to adjust the pH, act as a buffer and chelate metal ions to prevent discoloration and decomposition the presence of the citric ion stabilizes the formulation.
Nuclear Reactors

Citric acid is utilized in nuclear reactors to remove mill scale from welding operations. HC1 cannot be used due to the possibility of chloride stress fracturing of the stainless steel.
Oil Well Acidizing

Citric acid is used in oil well acidizing to prevent the formation of insoluble gels of iron hydroxide.
Wells are typically injected with HC1, oxidation reactions can occur which cause formation of insoluble iron hydroxide gels. These gels interfere with pumping hydroxide gels. These gels interfere with pumping operations. Citric acid is added to the well to chelate the iron thus preventing the gel formation.

Sodium citrate is used in radiator cleaning formulations to chelated metal from the metal oxide scales and to maintain the pH.

Ship Bilge and Reverse Osmosis Cleaning

Citric acid is used as a chelating agent in cleaning bilges and desalination units aboard ships.
In bilge cleaning, citric acid is used for rust removal.
In desalination units, citric acid solutions are used to remove iron, calcium and other cations which foul the cellulose acetate membranes used in reverse-osmosis systems. Citric acid will solubilize these ions without damaging the membranes.
Paint Industry

In the paint industry citric acid is used to retard the setting of titanium dioxide, the most common pigment used in paints and other coatings.

Citric acid is added to the pulp slurry prior to bleaching to control paper staining by sequestering metal ions.

Pet Food

In the animal feed industry, the primary use of citric acid is in pet food, where it is the flavor enhancer of choice. Fumaric acid is also used in this application.

Citric acid is widely used as a flavoring and stabilizing agent in pharmaceutical preparations. It is used in liquid preparations to enhance fruit flavors and to impart a desirable tart taste that helps mask medicinal flavors.
Citric acid help maintain stability of the active ingredients by buffering aqueous solutions, sequestering trace metals, and assisting in the dispersion of suspensions.
Citric acid in syrups, elixirs, of suspensions and solutions is considered a well established market.
The largest use of citric acid in the pharmaceutical industry is for the effervescent effect it produces when combine with bicarbonates or carbonates in antacids and dentrifices. Effervescence, beside improving palatability, can greatly improve the solubility of co-constituents.

Citric acid is used as a chelating agent to control the deposition rate of metals in both electroplating and electroless plating operations. It is also used to buffer the pH of the plating bath.

In textile finishing, citric acid is used to adjust pH, as a buffer and as a chelating agent in dye operations and in durable-press finishes using glyoxal resins. In this application citric acid is easier and sager to work with than acetic acid.

Water Softener Resin

Citric acid is mixed in the salt to chelate iron from fouled water softener resins in both home and commercial systems.

Food Applications


Citric acid is the acidulant of choice in the beverage industry. Citric acid is used extensively in carbonated beverage for flavoring and buffering properties.. Their high solubilities make them ideal for syrup concentrates.
Citric acid is also used in non-carbonated beverages as flavoring agents and buffers. They also increase the effectiveness of anti-microbial preservatives. Modifications such as juice-added beverages, low calorie beverages, and thirst quenchers use citric acid alone and in combinations with citrate salts.
Canning Industry

Citric acid lowers the pH to reduce heat processing, chelates trace metals to prevent enzymatic oxidation and color degradation, and enhances the flavor.

Citric acid is utilized in the confection industry. Citrates control sugar inversion, optimize gel-setting characteristics, provides tartness and enhance flavor.
Coffee Creamers

Sodium citrate is used in dairy and non-dairy creamers to stabilize the casein. This prevents feathering of the creamers when added to hot beverages.
Dietary Calcium Supplements

Citric acid in the from of calcium citrate is used as a dietary calcium supplement. Studies have shown that calcium citrate is more bio-available than calcium carbonate.
Dry Beverage

Citric acid is used in dry powder beverages for flavor and pH control.
In artificially sweetened beverages citric acid add the bulk and mouth feel normally obtained from the sucrose.

Jello Brand Gelatin is another example of a food product which uses Fumaric acid. The low solubility rate is overcome by solubilizing the gelatin in boiling water.
Jams & Jellies

Citric acid used in jams and jellies to provide tartness and to control the product pH for optimum gelation.

Examples of chelation in the canning industry

The lower set of canned goods demonstrates how citric acid as a chelating agent helps preserve the natural color and prevent discoloration in canned mushrooms, kidney beans and canned corn. The upper set of cans show the same products without citric acid.
Fruit and Vegetable Processing

Citric acid is used to inhibit enzymatic and trace metal-catalyzed oxidation reactions which can cause color and flavor deterioration it is often used with ascorbic acid for this purpose. The stability of frozen foods is optimized by the presence of citric acid.

Citric acid is utilized in Canola oil de-gumming.
Citric acid is also used in the deodorization and hydrogenation steps in oil processing to chelate trace metals which can catalyze rancidity reactions.
Pudding/Pie Fillings

Fumaric Acid is used in pudding and pie fillings to provide pH control. The non-hygroscopic nature of Fumaric acid lends itself to the less expensive packaging of these product.
Process Cheese

Sodium Citrate is used in the process cheese industry. Sodium citrate functions as an emulsifying salt to stabilize the water and oil phases of the cheese and improves body and texture.


Citric acid is used in the seafood industry to prevent discoloration and the development of off-odors and flavors by chelating trace metals which catalyze these reactions.
Citric acid can be used in conjunction with ascorbic acid as a dip, glaze or used directly in solutions form.

Citric Acid Uses
Looking for some relevant information on citric acid uses? Look no further, here we give you some of the most common uses of citric acid.

Citric acid, an organic acid, is commonly available in powdered form. Any fruit which is sour in taste would contain high amounts of citric acid, be it fruits like mangoes and pineapples. It is also found naturally in citrus fruits, especially fruits like lemon and oranges. Several types of berries like blackberries and raspberries also contain high amounts of citric acid.

Depending on the climatic and soil conditions, the amount of citric acid in fruits and vegetables vary. One of the most common citric acid use is for preserving foods. It is also added to provide a sour and acidic taste to food and drinks. It can easily mix with water thereby, making it acidic.

Uses of Citric Acid

Food Additive
Citric acid has a number of uses and is most commonly used as a food additive and a flavoring agent. It is used to flavor and preserve food and beverages. It is also used to make certain varieties of candies due to its sour taste. While buying sour candies, we often find them being covered with a white powder, which is nothing but citric acid. Some brands of ice cream use citric acid, as it acts as an emulsifier and helps in keeping fat globules away.

It is used in canning fruits like apples, apricots, pears, and peaches. It is specially useful in canning of low acidic fruits. It raises the pH level which is really helpful in stopping Botulism from occurring in the canned products. Using citric acid during canning is very essential as Botulism is a deadly organism. There are several jams and fruit preserves where citric acid is used, besides in concentrates and stock cubes.

It has the capacity to break down proteins available in meats and as such is mixed with meat to make it soft and tender. Moreover, it is also used during the manufacturing process of cheese, as it helps in clotting milk faster. It is also used in the production of sourdough breads like rye bread.

Wine Sourer
In the wine-making process, if the fruits do not contain high citric acid content, it is artificially added so as to make it sour. Such a process is mostly used to produce inexpensive wines.

Skin Care
Today, it is also used in making beauty products and is mixed with sodium bicarbonate to make bath tablets and bath fizzes. Moreover, they are also used in some lotions and skin masks. It acts as an antioxidant which helps in refreshing skin, thereby, preventing the skin from sagging and making you look old. In addition to that, it has properties to destroy free radicals and promote skin growth.

However, you need to make sure that you are not exposed to too much citric acid, as it may cause irritation of the skin. If your skin is sensitive or if you are suffering from citric acid intolerance, it's better not to use products with high citric content.

Hair Care
Moreover, it is also used along with shampoo to wash coloring agents from hair. However, if you think of using citric acid for washing hair, make sure that you use very small quantities, as it may be harmful for hair if used in large quantities.

Cleaning Agent
One of the common uses is in preparation of kitchen and bathroom cleaning agents. If you don't want to scrub glass to remove water stains, you can opt to use a solution of citric acid and just wipe it, the stain would clear immediately.

Industrial Uses
Industrial uses of citric acids are many and it is mainly used in algicides, animal feed, circuit boards, enhanced oil recovery, fertilizer micronutrients, pet food, etc. It is hard to picture but apart from kitchens it is also used in industries such as paint, paper, pharmaceuticals, textiles, etc.

Thus, citric acid has been used for a very long time, especially to preserve food items. If your stomach is sensitive to citric acid, you should avoid consuming foods rich in it.


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