Citric acid is a weak organic acid that is produced as a white crystalline powder. It is a natural food preservative that is also used to add an acidic, or sour taste to foods and soft drinks. In biochemistry, it is important as an intermediate in the Krebs (citric acid) cycle and therefore occurs in the metabolism of virtually all living things. Citric acid can also be used as an environmentally benign cleaning agent.
World wide annual production in 2007 stood at approximately 1,700,000 metric tons. More than 50% of this volume was produced in China. More than 50% was used as an acidulent in beverages and approximately 20% was used in other food applications. Another 20% was used for detergent applications, and 10% was used in the production of non-food related products such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and in the chemical industry.
TCC can deliver citric acid in 50 lb. and 25 kg bags, 2,000lb and 1,000kg bulk bags with one week lead time. Other/ special packaging available upon request.
TCC’s citric acid is a useful ingredient in beverages, jams, jellies, candies and frozen foods. It is also added in gelatin and fruit-based desserts as well as in canned vegetables and meat products. Citric acid preserves food and enhances flavor. It is one of the most useful ingredients in the food and beverage industries.
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.
Citric acid’s ability to chelate metals makes it useful in soaps and laundry detergents. By chelating the metals in hard water, it lets these cleaners produce foam and work more efficiently without the need for water softening.
Similarly, citric acid is used to regenerate the ion exchange materials used in water softeners by stripping off the accumulated metal ions as citrate complexes.
It is used in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry to passivate high purity process piping in substitution for using nitric acid. Nitric acid is a hazardous disposal issue once it is used for this purpose, while citric acid is not.
Citric acid is recognized as being safe for use in food by all major national and international food regulatory agencies. It is naturally present in almost all forms of life, and excess citric acid is readily metabolized and eliminated from the body.
TCC citric acid is available for shipping throughout the continental United States with 1 week’s lead-time. Please call (401) 360-2800 for details. The product is shipped in 50-lb. and 25kg bags, 2000-lb. and 1000kg bulk bags, by bulk tanker.
Citric acid exists in greater than trace amounts in a variety of fruits and vegetables, most notably citrus fruits. Lemons and limes have particularly high concentrations. Citric acid can constitute as much as 8% of the dry weight of these fruits.
At room temperature, citric acid is a white crystalline powder. It can exist either in an anhydrous (water-free) form or as a monohydrate. The anhydrous form crystallizes from hot water. The monohydrate will form when citric acid is crystallized from cold water. The monohydrate can be converted to the anhydrous form by heating above 78°C. Citric acid also dissolves in absolute ethanol at 15° C.
In chemical structure, citric acid shares the properties of other carboxylic acids. When heated above 175°C, it decomposes through the loss of carbon dioxide and water. Citric acid leaves a white crystalline precipitate.
Citric acid is a slightly stronger acid than typical carboxylic acids. This is because the anion can be stabilized by intermolecular hydrogen-bonding from other protic groups on citric acid.
The discovery of citric acid has been credited to the 8th century Islamic alchemist Jabir Ibn Hayyan. Medieval scholars in Europe were aware of the acidic nature of lemon and lime juices since the 13th century. The chemical was first isolated in 1784 by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who crystallized it from lemon juice. Industrial-scale citric acid production began in 1890 based on the Italian citrus fruit industry.
In 1893, C. Wehmer discovered that penicillium mold could produce citric acid from sugar. However, microbial production of citric acid did not become industrially important until WWI disrupted Italian citrus exports.