History production began on an industrial-scale. In 1893,
Citric acid was first discovered by Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele who derived it from lemon juice.
In 1890, citric acid production began on an industrial-scale.
In 1893, C. Wehmer discovered that Penicillium mold could produce citric acid from sugar.
In 1917, an American food chemist James Currie discovered certain strains of the mold Aspergillus Niger could be efficient citric acid producers, and Pfizer began industrial-level production using this technique two years later, followed by Citrique Belge in 1929.
This production technique is still the major way we produce industrial citric acid today.
Chemical Formula and Structure
Citric acid is mainly found in citrus fruits as a natural preservative and is used to add an acidic (sour) taste to food and drinks.
In biochemistry, citric acid occurs in the citric acid cycle, therefore, is an important part of the metabolism of almost all living things.
Although citric acid is most concentrated in lemons and limes, it also exists in a variety of fruits and vegetables, encompassing as much as 8% of the dry weight of some fruits.
Mechanism of its function
The acidic pH of citric acid makes it useful as a preservative. Since many bacteria are unable to grow in an acidic environment. Since citric acid can be made in a powder form, it can also be used in dry foods when a sour flavour is desired. Citric acid is a dry alternative to lemon juice or vinegar in many dry foods
Citric Acid exists in a variety of non-food applications including; Cleaning agents, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and dietary supplements.
Citric acid serves as an active ingredient in environmentally gentle cleaning solutions. For example, a solution with a six percent concentration of citric acid will remove water stains from glass without brushing. Citric acid can be used for shampoo to wash out wax and coloring from the hair. Citric acid is widely used in creams and gels of many kinds.
Citric acid is an alpha hydroxyl acid and used as an active ingredient in chemical peels.
Citric acid is commonly used as a barrier to increasing the solubility of brown heroin. Single-use citric acid sachets have been used as an inducement to get heroin users to exchange their dirty needles for clean needles in an attempt to decrease the spread of HIV and hepatitis.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), citric acid is generally recognized as safe. However, citric acid does have some safety and health concerns as noted in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH).
Breathing in citric acid can cause respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, a cough, and a sore throat. Contact with the eyes can result in redness and pain and when taken in large quantities, skin contact causes redness as well. Ingesting citric acid can cause abdominal pain and a sore throat. While it is generally safe, side effects do occur if an excess of the acid was used or consumed. Some of these side effects include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, there may be confusion, anxiety, weakness, irritability and mood changes. Seizures and convulsions are also possible. The acid is also believed to erode the tooth enamel when consumed frequently, which leads to an increased susceptibility to tooth decay, infections, and other various complications.
Citric acid is naturally found in food and water and readily biodegrades in the environment, so no significant negative effects are expected from its use according to the EPA’s data on the chemical.
Costs and benefits
· It works with a pH around 3 which means it is less corrosive to which are also acidic
· It can be easily stored and save in a household
· Citric acid is completely biodegradable so its solution can be thrown away after use
· Citric acid works best with hot water
· Citric acid is expensive
· Can cause stomach problems and sore throat
· Can trigger an allergy
· Can erode teeth enamel
· Can cause cancer