Difference Between Ascorbic Acid and Citric Acid

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


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It is usually assumed that vitamin c is ascorbic acid, and as vitamin c is derived from citrus fruits hence it all sums up to be 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 often 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 is useful in preventing blackening in fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, citric acid is a great additive therefore it is added into 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 up the immune system of the body. Citric acid is manmade.

It is synthetically produced. It is a great source of additive and hence it 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 that is found in several food items such as citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, guava, kiwi, and many more.

A common misconception by people is that oranges have the highest dose of vitamin c but no guava, guyabano contains the highest dosage. The human body on its own cannot produce ascorbic acid hence they require external supplements in order 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, and it is very important for the immune system of the body.

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

Even though ascorbic acid does not have any side effects as it is a water-soluble vitamin, but if consumed in an excessive amount at certain times it may cause nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. 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.

On average more than 2 million tons of citric acid is manufactured every year. They are used for enhancing certain flavors in products such as soda and fruit-flavoredcandies.

It is considered a great additive as it has a tart and tangy flavor to itself. Limes and lemons have a high concentration of citric acid.

The concentration for 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 the year 1784 by chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, he crystallized it in lemon form.

Citric acid exists in both form anhydrous (water-free) form and also monohydrate. Citric acid is also considered as a tribasic acid, which 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 getting rid of the buildup for limescale from boilers and evaporators.

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

citric acid

Main Differences Between Ascorbic Acid and Citric Acid

  1. The chemical formula for ascorbic acid isC6H8O6 whereas the chemical formula for citric acid isC6H8O7.
  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 is1.694 g/cm3 whereas the density of citric acid is1.66 g/cm3.
  4. The boiling point is different as well. The boiling point for ascorbic acid is 552.7 oC and the boiling point for citric acid is310 oC.
  5. Ascorbic acid is a natural compound, citric acid on the other hand is manmade. It is synthetically produced.
  6. Ascorbic acid is a great preservative as it prevents fruits and vegetables from getting brown whereas citric acid is a great additive as it has a tart and tangy flavor to itself.
  7. Ascorbic acidic is less acidic in comparison to citric acid, as citric acid is highly acidic.
Difference Between Ascorbic Acid and Citric Acid
  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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