STSE: Citric Acid
Citric Acid. One of the more
known acids that are in this world. For some of us, we come into contact with
it every single day. Whether it is by eating an orange slice or drinking a can
of soda, we encounter it each day. In fact, we will find that it is a vital
component for fruits and vegetables in their growing process. It can be
extracted organically or be manufactured in millions of tons. It explores the
concepts we have been taught in class regarding the strength and the pH Scale.
We can also see how it’s properties are used within the everyday world.
Acid is a tricarboxylic acid.
That is an acid where the chemical contain three carboxylic groups, which in itself
is an acid has 1 Carbon, 1 Hydrogen and 2 Oxygens. The formula for it is C6H8O7.
Citric Acid is a weak acid, meaning its protons of H+ only partially
dissociate in a solution. Citric Acid has less concentration of hydrogen than acids
such as HCl or HBr. This results it only being a 2.2 on the pH Scale rather than a 0.1
which makes for a strong acid. Citric Acid has its own cycle which it is named
for. Citric Acid occurs naturally in fruits, most commonly under “citrus” which
it is named for. It can be confused with its relative, ascorbic acid (aka
Vitamin C) as they appear in many of the same products we use.
don’t really get to see how a compound like Citric Acid is produced. Citric
Acid in many cases is extracted from different places. When people first got to
know about citric acid, people used lemon juice as the extractive. Up until 1919
when we discovered a fugus called Aspergillus niger or what they call Black Mold.
They found that it cultivated citric acid and started to use it in the industrial
process. We now use a variety of cheap substrates for citric acid production.
To extract it goes through a process called Submerged Fermentation which is
when the product is submerged into a liquid, causing the microorganisms to
As I stated
above, we come across citric acid a lot in our everyday lives. What we don’t
realise is that it not only in the obvious citrus fruit, but in beverages,
jellies & jams, frozen food, dairy products, pharmaceuticals, cleaning, and
cosmetics. A lot of the citric acid that is produced is what you come across in
your soft drinks and candy. That is your Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale, lollipops,
gum, orange juice, whatever it is. This is what provides the tartness in the
products. It also does well to compliments the sweet aspect of them. The same
can go for jellies, jams, and preserves that we spread on our bread. It is
known that we should sometimes stay away from some of these items, because it
can wear the enamel of our teeth over time. It is also present in certain
pharmaceuticals for its scent and the fact that it can thin product out. It can
even work as a blood thinner. It also helps with cleaning products as it binds
with water to remove metal oxides from surfaces. It also promotes skin peeling
in case of anti-aging product within cosmetics.
Acid is taken away from the environment, and therefore can be given back to it
without much hassle. The substance is easily biodegradable and many plant use
it converting it into energy for the cells in the plant. Studies have even been
made, that if uses in low doses, Citric acid can even be used as a natural
repellent. This would be great for the environment as they would use pesticides
(repellant that isn’t safe to eat) less and less. One of the few downsides to
Citric Acid production is obviously the factory work. With factory work comes
pollution and other unhealthy substances in our air. Other than that, there are
few downsides that pertains to Citric Acid.
I would say that citric acid is a great discovery of science. It is an acid
that has a lot of different uses. It has many properties, few which are
harmful, that we can use to our advantage. If we can take an extra step to
change our repellants or use natural cleaning solution, we would be able to not
harm the world we live in more.