Ascorbic Acid vs Citric Acid: Difference and Comparison

Ascorbic acid and citric acid are both terms considered similar, but they are not. They are completely different things and do not signify a similar thing.

It is assumed that vitamin C is ascorbic acid, and as vitamin C is derived from citrus fruits, it is all considered citric acid. But that is not the case.

Key Takeaways

  1. Ascorbic acid is a type of vitamin C essential for developing, developing, and repairing body tissues.
  2. Citric acid is a weak organic acid commonly found in citrus fruits and is used as a natural preservative and flavor enhancer in food and beverages.
  3. Ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin easily absorbed by the body, while citric acid is used primarily for its acidic properties.

Ascorbic Acid vs Citric Acid

The difference between ascorbic acid and citric acid is that ascorbic acid is a great preservative; hence, it prevents blackening in fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, citric acid is a great additive; therefore, it is added to a supplement for its tart and tangy flavor.

Ascorbic Acid vs Citric Acid
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Ascorbic acid is a natural substance. It is also known as vitamin C or ascorbate. They are found in several food items, like citrus fruits.

They are highly beneficial for the body as it boosts the immune system of the body. Citric acid is manmade.

It is synthetically produced. It is a great source of additives and is used in fruit-flavored candies and soda.

It is also a very good cleaning and chelating agent.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonAscorbic AcidCitric Acid
Chemical FormulaC6H8O6 C6H8O7
Molar Mass176.124 g.mol-1192.124 g/mol
Density1.694 g/cm31.66 g/cm3
Boiling Point552.7 oC310 oC
PropertiesIt is naturalIt is manmade
QualityIt is a great preservativeIt is great additive
AcidicLess acidicHighly acidic

What is Ascorbic Acid?

Ascorbic acid is also known as vitamin C or ascorbate. It is a vitamin in several food items, such as citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, guava, kiwi, and many more.

A common misconception is that oranges have the highest dose of vitamin C but no guava; guyabano contains the highest dosage. The human body cannot produce ascorbic acid; hence they require external supplements to suffice the amount required by the body.

Vitamin C helps in the prevention of several diseases, such as scurvy. It also helps in age-related macular degeneration, cancer, cataracts, and the common cold.

It is also said that it increases collagen production in one’s body. It also helps function as an antioxidant, which is very important for the body’s immune system.

It can be obtained as a very inexpensive over-the-counter medicine. They are also an excellent form of natural preservatives, keeping fruits and vegetables from becoming brown.

Even though ascorbic acid has no side effects as it is a water-soluble vitamin, it may cause nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea if consumed excessively at certain times. It is also believed that vitamin C increases the risk of kidney stones.

ascorbic acid

What is Citric Acid?

Citric acid is a weak organic acid. Its molecular formula is C6H8O7. It occurs naturally in citrus fruits and a few other vegetables.

It is also synthetically produced from sugar. It is a manmade compound.

More than 2 million tons of citric acid are manufactured annually. They enhance certain flavors in products such as soda and fruit-flavored candies.

It is a great additive with a tart and tangy flavor. Limes and lemons have a high concentration of citric acid.

The concentration of citric acid can vary from 0.005 mol/L in the case of oranges and grapefruit but in the case of lemon and lime, they are around 0.30 mol/L. Citric acid was first separated in 1784 by chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele; he crystallized it in lemon form.

Citric acid exists in anhydrous (water-free) form and monohydrate. Citric acid is also a tribasic acid, in which the pKa value evaporates to zero ionic strength.

Citric acid is also a great cleaning and chelating agent as it binds metals by making them soluble. It helps get rid of the buildup of limescale from boilers and evaporators.

It is also used for treating water, as it gets more useful by improving the effectiveness of soap and laundry detergent.

citric acid

Main Differences Between Ascorbic Acid and Citric Acid

  1. The chemical formula for ascorbic acid is C6H8O6, whereas the chemical formula for citric acid is C6H8O7.
  2. The molar mass in both acids is different. In ascorbic acid, the molar mass is 176.124 g.mol-1 and in citric acid the molar mass is192.124 g/mol.
  3. The densities of the two acids vary too. The density of ascorbic acid is 1.694 g/cm3, whereas the density of citric acid is 1.66 g/cm3.
  4. The boiling point is different as well. The boiling point for ascorbic acid is 552.7 oC, and citric acid’s is 310 oC.
  5. Ascorbic acid is a natural compound, citric acid, conversely, is manmade. It is synthetically produced.
  6. Ascorbic acid is a great preservative that prevents fruits and vegetables from getting brown. In contrast, citric acid is a great additive with a tart and tangy flavor.
  7. Ascorbic acid is less acidic than citric acid, as citric acid is highly acidic.
Difference Between Ascorbic Acid and Citric Acid
References
  1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM198604033141407
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304416501002355
  3. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ie50463a008
  4. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=43W1BQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP6&dq=citric+acid&ots=FFXWeqvEFa&sig=5AKetwR5f1PXC3si15YajNXhOFs
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