Difference Between White Vinegar and Malt Vinegar (With Table)

There’s no gainsaying the fact that vinegar has been and is a useful product commercially and industrially. It also finds its use in many food items, medicines, cleaning purposes, laboratories, food preservation, and much more. We often use vinegar to prepare food items like noodles, pickles, chutneys, desserts, dipping sauces, etc. 

Both white vinegar and malt vinegar contain acetic acid in themselves. Both are used in household cleaning and cooking but which one is more widely used? Which one is easily available and is cheaper? How are they prepared and what are their contents?

White Vinegar vs Malt Vinegar

The difference between white vinegar and malt vinegar is that the white vinegar is clearer, colorless, more acidic, cheaper, easily available, and widely used in households. It takes less time in production and is made by a simple fermentation method with acetic acid and water as its main ingredients. On the other hand, malt vinegar is darker, generally light brown, less acidic, and costlier compared to white vinegar and is used rarely. It takes more time in production and is formed by a complex process with malted barley being its characteristic ingredient.

Comparison Table Between White Vinegar and Malt Vinegar

Parameters of Comparison White Vinegar Malt Vinegar
Made fromWhite vinegar is made from acetic acid and water by the fermentation of alcohol and is a purified vinegar.Malt vinegar is made by the fermentation of malted barley or ale which is an alcoholic beverage.
Also known as White vinegar is also known as distilled vinegar and virgin vinegar and purified vinegar.Malt vinegar is also known as a legal.
Production timeWhite vinegar can be prepared by simple fermentation and takes less time than malt vinegar.The production of malt vinegar is a complex process and it takes longer to prepare malt vinegar as compared to white vinegar.
TasteWhite vinegar is more acidic and sourer than malt vinegar.Malt vinegar has a characteristic malt flavor. It is milder and sweeter compared to white vinegar.
UsesIt is used for cleaning purposes, in pickles and chutneys, and is more widely used in households as compared to the malt one.It is primarily used as a pickling item and can be used on chips or French fries. It is not as popular as white vinegar.
AppearanceWhite vinegar is clearer and colorless.Malt vinegar is mainly a light brown liquid though it can also be colorless or dark brown.
CostWhite vinegar is cheaper compared to malt vinegar.Malt vinegar is costlier than white vinegar.
AcidityWhite vinegar is more acidic than malt vinegar.Malt vinegar is comparatively less acidic than white vinegar.
Gluten Gluten is absent in white vinegar as it contains only acetic acid and water.Malt vinegar does have gluten in it.

What is White Vinegar?

White vinegar is also known as distilled vinegar or virgin vinegar or purified vinegar and it is the most commonly used vinegar in our households mainly for cleaning and cooking purposes. It’s cheap and is easily available in the market. It is a colorless clear liquid containing acetic acid and water and is acidic with a sour taste. It is prepared by the fermentation of distilled alcohol.

It has a strong flavor and is widely used to prepare pickles and clean and disinfect households. It is a purified vinegar and has medicinal property so it is used as an antiseptic also. Its pH is around 2.5 and it is quite sour and acidic. White vinegar is the most preferred vinegar in everyday life.

What is Malt Vinegar?

The word malting implies sprouting. Malt vinegar is made by a complex process that takes a lot of time. First, the barley is malted, and the resulting disaccharide is formulated into ale. The ale is then fermented to produce malt vinegar. It is nutty, toasty, and generally light brown colored liquid with typical barely taste. 

Malt vinegar is also known as a legal and was invented in Britain. Based on the sharpness of the taste and color, malt vinegar can be classified into colorless, light brown, and dark brown malt vinegar. It has a characteristic barley taste and contains gluten which is absent in white vinegar. 

Main Differences Between White Vinegar and Malt Vinegar

  1. White vinegar is clear and colorless while malt vinegar may be colorless, dark brown, or light brown.
  2. Production of malt vinegar takes more time and is a more complex process than that of the production of white vinegar which takes lesser time compared to malt vinegar and is prepared simply by fermentation of alcohol.
  3. Malt vinegar contains gluten and thus is not suited for people with gluten allergy while white vinegar doesn’t contain gluten.
  4. White vinegar is more commonly used than malt vinegar in households for cleaning and cooking purposes. White vinegar is often more preferred than malt vinegar.
  5. White vinegar is cheaper than malt vinegar.
  6. White vinegar is more acidic and sourer than malt vinegar which is milder and sweeter.


Vinegar is a common thing widely used almost all over the world. We use vinegar in a variety of ways like in preparing tasty pickles or desserts or chutneys or any such food items. It’s even used for commercial and industrial purposes, for cleaning purposes, and sometimes in laboratories, medicines, and for food preservation.

White vinegar also known as distilled vinegar or virgin vinegar or purified vinegar is a clear and colorless liquid with acetic acid and water as its chief ingredients while malt vinegar is colorless, light brown, or dark brown with malted barley as its chief ingredient. White vinegar is cheaper and is more widely used as compared to brown vinegar. White vinegar and malt vinegar also differ in taste, appearance, production process, production time, and acidity.


  1. https://www.osapublishing.org/abstract.cfm?uri=jnirs-12-4-207
  2. https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/gradschool_theses/1225/
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