Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Citric acid has become an important ingredient for many people due to its versatile use. Since it can be used as a food additive and cleaning agent substitute, it is hard to imagine household inventory without it. Moreover, citric acid is a good substitute for vinegar as it does not cause an unpleasant odour.

Due to its different purity levels, forms and pack sizes, citric acid can be used in different ways. We have therefore compared different citric acids and worked out the most important aspects for you. This will tell you what to look for when buying and how to find the right citric acid for you.




The most important facts

  • Citric acid is a practical and inexpensive alternative to conventional cleaning agents. It can replace many different cleaners, so only one agent is needed.
  • Citric acid in powder form has a higher intensity of cleaning than citric acid in liquid form. So when using the powder, less product is needed.
  • If the citric acid is at least food grade purity, it can be added to their diet without hesitation. If it is of pharmaceutical quality, it can also be used in cosmetics.

The Best Citric Acid: Our Picks

To make it easier for you to make a purchase decision, we have compiled our favourites. These should help you find the right citric acid for you.

Buying and evaluation criteria for citric acid

To help you find the right citric acid for your use, we have put together the most important buying criteria. These should make it easier for you to compare citric acids so that you can make an informed choice.

The criteria for comparing citric acids include:

Purity levels

The purity level of citric acid represents the quality of the product. The purity level of citric acid should be at least food grade, so that you can include it in your diet without hesitation. You can therefore be sure that no other substances are contained in the acid.

Even better than food grade is the purity grade pharmaceutical grade. This is used in the pharmaceutical industry, among others. It is even purer than food grade and can therefore also be used in cosmetic products.

Form

Citric acid is available both as a powder and in liquid form. To make liquid citric acid, citric acid in powder form is mixed with water. When buying citric acid, it is better to buy it in powder form, as it is water-free.

Diluting the acid with water reduces the intensity of the cleaning. To achieve the same cleaning power, more product of the liquid acid is needed. Citric acid as a powder thus has a lower consumption.

Citric acid as a powder has the further advantage that it has a very high solubility in water.

This makes it possible to produce liquid citric acid yourself. You can therefore use the powder in both forms of citric acid. The acid in powder form thus has a wider range of applications than the liquid version.

Package size

Citric acid comes in a wide variety of pack sizes. In the baking department, there are usually only small packages with 25 g content. This means that you need several of these small bags to make cleaners or for use in food.

Large packs are available in 1, 2 or 5 kg, for example. This way, you create a supply and don't always need to replenish. Larger quantities are usually cheaper than the small packages.

Another advantage of the large packs is that they save on packaging waste. The same amount of small packs produces much more waste than, for example, a 2 kg pack. This corresponds to a quantity of 80 small bags.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about citric acid answered in detail

We will now answer the most important questions about citric acid. We want to give you a better overview of the topic.

What is citric acid?

Citric acid is colourless and water-soluble and belongs to the group of solid acids. In contrast to other acids, in its pure form it has the aggregate state solid and not liquid. Due to its natural acidic property, citric acid is a carboxylic acid that belongs to the fruit acids.

What types of citric acid are there?

Citric acid can be obtained through various manufacturing processes. For example, it can be isolated naturally from citrus fruits. However, this process is no longer used in citric acid production today. Industrially produced citric acid is used instead.

To produce citric acid industrially, raw materials containing sugar, such as molasses, are fermented. Black mould is used for the fermentation of the dark brown sugar syrup. To ensure that the mould does not leave any residues in the end product, such as mould toxins, the citric acid must be highly purified. This is how it maintains its purity.

What can citric acid be used for in the household?

Citric acid can be used in many ways in the household. It can be used to remove limescale in your coffee maker. However, it should not be heated above 40° C, otherwise calcium citrate can form, which is difficult to dissolve and can clog fine pipes.

Zitronensäure

Citric acid is very suitable as a substitute for fabric softener, as it makes your laundry softer. (Image source: Monfocus / Pixabay)

As citric acid can soften water, it can also be used as a substitute for fabric softener, making your laundry smoother. Citric acid can also remove stains from laundry. However, it should only be used on light-coloured or white laundry, as the acid can bleach the clothes.

What can citric acid be used for in food?

If citric acid is food grade, it can also be used in your diet. You can use it as a preservative for jam. Similarly, citric acid softens the taste and takes some of the sweetness out of jam.

In drinks, citric acid can keep the carbonation longer. It can also be used in combination with baking soda and sugar to make sherbet.

Conclusion

To have a practical helper in the household, citric acid is a wonderful option. With its many uses, it can replace some cleaning agents and food additives.

The purity level is an important indicator if the citric acid is to be used for nutrition. When deciding on a purchase, the quantity required and, consequently, the price play an important role.

(Cover photo: Natalia Kopyltsova / 123rf)

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