Citric Acid

What is Citric Acid?

Citric acid (chemical formula: C₆H₈O₇), is an odourless white crystal/granule/powder. It mixes well with water, alcohol and methanol, but is practically insoluble in chloroform. Citric acid is naturally occurring in citrus fruits, such as in oranges, kumquats, mandarins and grapefruit. Citric acid also occurs naturally in the human body. 

What is Citric Acid used for?

As an edible acid, citric acid is used in the manufacture of food and drinks including jams/preserves, confectionery and soft drinks. The addition of citric acid in these products can act as a flavouring or a preservative. 

Other applications include:

  • Processing cheese 
  • Removing trace metals in the electroplating process
  • Adjusting the pH of foods
  • A reagent in chemistry applications
  • Medicines (pharmaceutical syrups, effervescent powders/tablets, vitamins)
  • Cosmetics (bath bombs, etc.)
  • Cleaning products 
  • Manufacturing citrate salts
Citrus fruits are naturally rich in citric acid, with lemons and limes having the highest concentrations.
Citrus fruits are naturally rich in citric acid, with lemons and limes having the highest concentrations.

Citric Acid Hazards

The routes of exposure for citric acid include inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact. 

Inhalation of citric acid may produce irritation of the lungs. Individuals suffering from respiratory, nervous system or circulatory system diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and kidney damage may worsen their conditions if inhaling excessive amounts of citric acid.

Ingestion of citric acid can cause haemorrhaging, blood clots, gastrointestinal damage and narrowing of the oesophagus and stomach entry. 

Skin contact with citric acid is not thought to have harmful effects, however repeated and prolonged exposure can cause contact dermatitis, characterised by redness, swelling and blistering. Entry into the bloodstream through open cuts or wounds may produce other harmful effects.

Citric acid can cause severe and painful eye damage when exposed. 

Citric Acid Safety

If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source. Lay them down and ensure they are warm and rested. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, perform CPR (preferably with a bag-valve mask device). Seek medical attention without delay. 

If swallowed, do not induce vomiting. If vomiting does occur however, lean the patient forward or place them on their left side to maintain open airways and prevent aspiration. Give the patient water to rinse their mouth out and provide as much as they can comfortably drink. Seek medical attention. 

If skin exposure occurs, immediately remove all contaminated clothing, footwear and accessories and flush the affected area with plenty of water. Seek medical attention in the event of irritation. 

If the chemical is exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with fresh running water for at least 15 minutes, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Removal of contact lenses should only be done by a skilled individual. Seek medical attention without delay.

Citric Acid Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains should be accessible in the area near the potential chemical exposure and adequate ventilation should also be available (install local exhaust if necessary).

The PPE recommended when handling citric acid includes safety glasses with side shields, chemical goggles, full face shields, dust respirators, PVC or rubber gloves, overalls, PVC aprons, PVC protective suits and safety boots.

Like most acids, citric acid can present very severe hazards when improperly handled. Always check your copy of the SDS before handling hazardous chemicals. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at sa***@ch*******.net for more information about our chemicals management solutions.