Applications of Citric Acid as an Ingredient

Citric acid is a super ingredient used in many industries. Citric acid naturally occurs in tomatoes, berries, and citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons. Swedish-German chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele was the first person to extract citric acid from lemon juice in 1784.

Afterward, chemists found other fruits that contain citric acid and learned to produce the acid by fermenting sugars. Today, global citric acid production is at nearly 2 million metric tons yearly. Citric acid is a highly demanded ingredient. Learn more about its industrial applications below. 

Food Industry

Citric acid (and derivatives) is a food additive that works as a preservative, flavoring, and emulsifying agent. Adding citric acid to food increases the food’s acidity, preventing mold, bacteria, and other organic contaminants from spoiling food. The acid also preserves the food’s flavor, color, and texture.

Wineries and breweries use citric acid to balance the pH level of wine or beer, which prevents turbidity and improves its taste. The acid is also added to soft drinks like soda to regulate effervescence. Most sour candies also have citric acid as an ingredient. Sometimes, candy makers coat sour candies with citric acid in powder form.

Ice cream companies use citric acid esters as an emulsifier, which keeps the ice cream from separating. Companies that produce canned foods also use citric acid to prevent botulism, a health condition caused by low acidity in canned foods.

Cosmetics Industry

Manufacturers in the cosmetic industry also use citric acid as a preservative to prevent mold and bacteria growth on personal care products. Citric acid is also an essential ingredient in skincare products due to its numerous skin benefits.

Skincare products with citric acid brighten your skin tone, aid oil control, remove dead cells, and balance the skin’s pH levels. However, you should not use citric acid products on your skin without consulting your dermatologist.

Manufacturers also use citric acid in shampoos, body sprays, hairsprays, and deodorants. Sodium citrate, a citric acid salt, is a common ingredient in soaps and lipsticks.

Pharmaceutical and Medical industries

Citric acid forms the salt derivative in many minerals used in pharmaceuticals. Citric serves as an antioxidant in vitamin preparation and is used in combination with bicarbonates as an effervescent in tablets and powders.

Citric acid is an essential ingredient in dietary supplements. Without it, absorption of the supplements in the body would be slow. Manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry also use citric acid as an anticoagulant to keep blood from clotting during transfusion.  

Citric acid is used to prevent the growth of kill harmful bacteria and infections on the skin. Additionally, the chemical helps lower urine acidity, when combined with potassium citrate and sodium citrate. Lowering acidity in urine helps prevent gout and kidney stones.

Cleaning Agents

Citric acid is an ingredient in many cleaning agents due to its antibacterial properties. The chemical is also an excellent stain remover. Citric acid removes coffee stains, hard water stains, and discoloration. This organic compound is also helpful in removing hard water buildup on glassware and limescale on boilers and evaporators. 

Also, most bathroom and kitchen cleaners have citric acid as an ingredient, which can also be used as a deodorizer.

Water Softeners

Detergents and laundry powders have citric acid as an ingredient to soften water. When released into water, citric acid chelates / binds the mineral ions that make water hard and flush them away, thus softening the water.

Although citric acid is naturally occurring, most commercially available citric acid is made by industrial fermentation of sugars. The acid is FDA-approved and is generally safe. At TLC Ingredients, we pride ourselves on distributing safe, high-quality ingredients for the food and manufacturing industries. Contact us today for more information about our products.

Posted in