Uses of Citric Acid


Citric acid is produced organically and is readily found in nature, present in many fruits and vegetables. Lemon is an example of a citrus fruit that contains the largest amount of citric acid. Citric acid is commonly used by food processing companies in various food and beverages as an acidulant. It is mainly used in so many varied ways due to the way it is prepared, that is by the process of Fermentation. Its usage is not just limited to food industries but other industries like cleaning and cosmetic product manufacturing as well.

What is Citric Acid?

Citric acid can be defined as a tribasic weak acid, which is available in two major forms - monohydrate and water-free (anhydrous). Its chemical formula is $\mathrm{HOC(CO_2H)}$. The chemical formula according to its molecular structure is given as $\mathrm{C_6H_8O_7}$. It is considered an intermediate product in the citric acid cycle according to the subject of Biochemistry; the said process is exclusive to the metabolism of all aerobic organisms. Citric acid is considered really advantageous as it is readily found in many fruits and vegetables.

Figure 1: Structure of Citric Acid

Citric acid has a sour taste to it and is completely odourless. In its solid state, it is found as a white crystal, and is also monoclinic. Due to its existence as a tribasic acid, it is not an easy process to develop acidic salts of Citric acid, it needs to be done with very much caution by controlling the pH levels so that the compound doesn't transform into a crystal.

Citric Acid: Preparation

Figure 2: Preparation of Citric Acid

The extensive process of preparation of Citric acid is done through 5 steps. They are explained below −

Step 1

Firstly, a decent amount of citric acid in its crystal form is required, with an additional 450 ml of lemon juice. The lemon juice should show a pH level of around 2 or 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Step 2

Sodium hydroxide is required for the process so it is advised to add some eye drops which contain approximately 10% of it. The solution now needs to be retested. After pouring it into a second container it needs to be observed if there are any traces of solid particles in the solution.

Step 3

28 grams of calcium chloride with 70 mL of distilled water needs to be added to the solution in a glass and boiled.

Step 4

The solution now needs to be filtered again to remove any traces of calcium citrate. It needs to be combined with significantly diluted sulfuric acid and stirred properly The solution now needs to be filtered again and the citric acid needs to be separately kept in a beaker in presence of water.

Step 5

The whole thing now needs to be heated over medium heat. This needs to happen until the evaporation of the water that is present in the beaker. The citric acid now needs to be removed and cooled.

Citric Acid: Benefits

Citric acid leads to the formation of a varied range of metallic salt, which includes the combination with copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and calcium. Citric acid is used as a sequestering agent in various commercial processes owing to these salts and is also known as an anticoagulant blood preservative. These salts are also the reason for their antioxidant properties.

Citric Acid: Uses

Citric acid is used in many different fields owing to its varied properties, they are as follows −

Food Additive

Citric acid is heavily used by food processing companies as a flavouring agent due to its sour taste. It is also used as a food preservative. In various beverages like soft drinks and also in syrups citric acid is used owing to its properties as an acidulant. White-powdered form of Citric acid is applied in the production of sour candies. It is also used as an emulsifier to produce ice creams by various companies, to chase away fat globules.

Cleaning Agent

Citric acid has chelating properties which is why it is necessarily used in cleaning products. It is also productively used to clean away limescale from evaporators and boilers. Owing to its properties of softening the water it is commonly used in soaps and laundry detergents. Due to its overall cleaning properties, it is used majorly to produce household cleaners for kitchens and bathrooms. It also fulfils the purpose of a deodorizer.


Citric acid can result in discarding dead skin from the body, thus it is heavily used in home masks. It leads to the improvement of the tone of the skin and also in its growth, which results in the removal of wrinkles. Citric acid is very useful in balancing pH levels thus it has its usage as a cosmetic ingredient, according to its requirement.

Industrial Uses

Citric acid is commonly used in commercial purposes for the manufacturing of detergents, electroplating and also leather tanning. Due to its curing properties citric acid is variedly used in pharmaceutical industries as well.


Citric acid is considered to be really advantageous for human benefits as it is readily present in many fruits and vegetables. It is extensively prepared through a 5 step process. Citric acid produced metallic salts that are used as a sequestering agent for various commercial purposes.

Citric acid is mainly used by food processing companies as a flavouring agent and is also used as a food preservative. In various beverages like soft drinks, it is used owing to its acidulant properties. It is also used in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and cleaning products industries.


Q1. What can drugs produced with citric acid cause?

Ans. Drugs produced with the help of citric acid are not recommended. It can lead to confusion, light-headedness, chest pain, fast heartbeat, pain, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, and fatigue.

Q2. How long can citric acid last?

Ans. Citric acid has a shell life of three years since it is being manufactured. It needs to be placed in its original container only, with cool and dry conditions.

Q3. Can citric acid be used as a disinfectant?

Ans. Citric acid possesses the properties of a disinfectant. It kills bacteria mould and mildew, that's why it is used as a proper disinfectant.

Updated on: 14-Apr-2023


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