What is the taste of citric acid

citric acidAcidsCitric acid is a strong tricarboxylic acid that occurs in many fruits and is also formed by the human body as an intermediate product in the citric acid cycle. It is found in high concentrations in lemon and lime juice. Citric acid has acidic, preserving, clarifying and antioxidant properties and is used, among other things, for the preparation of processed foods, for lemonades, as a pharmaceutical excipient and as a cleaning agent. In everyday use in spring and summer, it is mainly used as a preservative and acidifier in the production of elderflower syrup. Care should be taken when handling pure citric acid as it is irritating to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes.

Synonymous: Citric acid, Acidum citricum, Acidum citricum anhydricumPhEur, Acidum citricum monohydricumPhEur, E 330


Pure citric acid is available in pharmacies and drugstores as open goods. The specialist trade can order them from Hänseler AG, for example.

Structure and properties

Citric acid (C.6H8O7, Mr = 192.1 g / mol) is usually a white, crystalline and odorless powder and is very easily soluble in water. Citric acid monohydrate (C.6H8O7 · H2O) used. Citric acid is achiral and has a sour taste.

Citric acid is found in many fruits (e.g. orange, grapefruit, pineapple), vegetables and plants and is found in high concentrations in lemon and lime juice. In the human body it is an important intermediate product in the citric acid cycle (Krebs cycle). It breaks down into water and carbon dioxide.

Citric acid is usually made through fermentation of carbohydrates using non-toxic strains of mold Aspergillus niger and subsequent cleaning.

The salts of citric acid are known as citrates. Sodium citrate, the trisodium salt of citric acid, is used, for example.


Citric acid (ATC A09AB04) has acidic, irritant and preservative properties. The effects are mainly based on the deprotonation of the carboxy groups (pKa1 = 3.14, pKa2 = 4.77, pKa3 = 6.39). Citric acid is a stronger acid than, for example, acetic acid (pKa = 4.76). Citric acid also complexes metal ions, which inhibits enzymes and oxidation. In this way, it develops antioxidant effects and counteracts the browning of fruits and vegetables.

application areas
  • In the food industry, as an acidifier and acid regulator for beverages (e.g. Fanta®, Sprite®, Red Bull®). For the precipitation of the milk (coagulation).
  • As a preservative, e.g. in elderflower syrup and other syrups, for jams. Citric acid also helps gelation and has a clarifying effect.
  • In cosmetics.
  • To suppress the browning of fruits and vegetables.
  • As a pharmaceutical excipient, e.g. for effervescent powder, for the production of a citrate buffer.
  • For hypo- and achlorhydria (lack of acidity in the stomach).
  • In cleaning agents, e.g. for descaling.

For the preparation of the elderflower syrup you need 20 g citric acid per liter of water.


Citric acid is incompatible with various substances. These include, for example, bases such as sodium hydrogen carbonate (gas formation), salts of acids (precipitation) and foods such as milk (flocculation).

unwanted effects

Pure citric acid irritates the skin, the mucous membranes and the respiratory tract and can cause sneezing and coughing. It causes serious eye irritation when it comes into contact with the eyes. The safety data sheet therefore even recommends wearing protective gloves, protective goggles and a face mask when handling. When selling citric acid, customers should always be informed about the irritating effects of the powder. In the event of accidental contact, the acid should be rinsed off with water.

Drinks and foods acidified with citric acid can attack teeth, lead to demineralization, tooth erosion and tooth decay.


Citric acid should be tightly closed, dry, protected from light and heat and stored at room temperature. It has a shelf life of three to four years.

see also

Elderflower syrup, acids

  • Medicinal product information (CH)
  • EFSA
  • European Pharmacopoeia PhEur
  • FAO
  • Encyclopedias and handbooks of food technology
  • Papagianni M. Advances in citric acid fermentation by Aspergillus niger: biochemical aspects, membrane transport and modeling. Biotechnol Adv, 2007, 25 (3), 244-63 Pubmed
  • swell
  • Römpp
  • Safety data sheet (CH)

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Conflicts of Interest: None / Independent. The author has no relationships with the manufacturers and is not involved in the sale of the products mentioned.

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This article was last changed on 4/5/2021.
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