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. It is also commonly used in the food industry as a preservative and also acidity regulator.

This article looks at some of the applications for citric acid.   Pacific Water Technology supplies the citric acid  as a crystalline powder (anhydrous) or solution with up to 50% concentration.  For specialised applications there is also a high purity solution made up with demineralised water and citric acid.

Some of the applications for citric acid:

Citric Acid for pH control: Citric acid is a weak organic acid and is often favoured for pH control in the food industry.  Some  examples are the poultry industry where chlorination is used in the spin chillers for disinfecting the chicken carcasses. The water has a very high organic load and chlorination can be very ineffective if not carried out at a pH of 6.5.  The reason for this is that the dissociation of the sodium hypochlorite into hypochlorous acid  is only effective at lower pH.  Citric acid can effectively reduce and maintain the pH at levels where chlorination is at its’ most effective without increasing the risk of generating dangerous levels of trihalomethanes and chloramines.

Citric Acid as preservative and food additive:

Citric Acid is commonly use in the food industry as a buffering agent, acidity regulator, preservative and food additive for food, beverages and pharmaceutical products.

In its broadest sense, a food additive is any substance added to food. Legally, the term refers to “any substance the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result — directly or indirectly — in its becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food.”

In most of beverages, citric acid (E 330) is the first choice for use as an acid regulator, as it has several additional benefits, such as enhancing the activity of beneficial antioxidants and adding aroma

Citric Acid as a descaler

Citric acid is a popular environmental friendly descaler  for coffee machines , kettles, shower screens  and other areas that may experience scale build-up. It is also used in industrial scale often in conjunction with other cleaning agents for cleaning RO  and other membranes .   It is also used for descaling heat transfer surfaces in heat exchangers.