Citric acid granules – 10 important information. Citric acid, a weak organic acid found naturally in citrus fruits, especially lemons and limes, is a pivotal compound in the biochemistry of living organisms. Its formula, C6H8O7, signifies its complex nature and its role in the metabolic processes, particularly in the citric acid cycle (Krebs cycle), which is fundamental for energy production in cells. Beyond its presence in nature, citric acid is also industrially produced through fermentation processes, primarily using Aspergillus niger, a type of mold that feeds on simple sugars to produce citric acid in large quantities.

This versatile acid comes in various forms, including powder, liquid, and granules, each serving distinct purposes across different applications. The powdered form is commonly used for domestic purposes, such as in food seasoning and home cleaning solutions. The liquid form, often found in concentrated solutions, is widely used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food industries for its preservative and flavor-enhancing properties. However, among these, citric acid granules stand out for their unique properties and applications.

Citric acid granules, characterized by their coarse, crystalline texture, offer several advantages over other forms. These granules are less prone to caking compared to the powdered form, making them easier to handle and store. Their controlled dissolving rate makes them particularly suitable for applications where a gradual release of citric acid is desired, such as in certain food and beverage processing, cleaning products, and extended-release pharmaceuticals.

The importance of citric acid granules spans across various industries. In the food and beverage sector, they are crucial for flavoring, preserving, and pH adjustment, enhancing the taste and shelf-life of products. In the pharmaceutical industry, citric acid granules serve as an essential excipient, aiding in the stabilization and formulation of medications. Moreover, their biodegradable nature makes them a preferred ingredient in eco-friendly cleaning products, offering effective cleaning solutions without harming the environment. The cosmetic industry also benefits from the gentle acidity of citric acid granules, utilizing them in skin care and beauty products to adjust pH levels and promote skin renewal.

The versatility and biocompatibility of citric acid granules make them an indispensable component in many formulations, underlying their significant role in modern industrial applications. As industries continue to evolve, the demand for sustainable and effective solutions like citric acid granules is only expected to rise, further cementing their importance in the global market.

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What Are Citric Acid Granules?

Citric acid, a weak organic acid naturally found in citrus fruits, is renowned for its sour taste and preservative qualities. In the commercial and industrial sphere, it’s not just the fruit-derived citric acid that’s utilized but also the one produced through fermentation processes, which allows for the production of citric acid in various forms, including granules, powders, and liquids. Among these, citric acid granules hold a special place due to their versatility and ease of use.

Definition and Physical Description

Citric acid granules are small, crystalline particles of citric acid. They are designed for ease of measurement, stability, and convenience in storage and transport. These granules are typically white or off-white in color and possess a sharp, tangy taste reminiscent of the citrus fruits from which their name is derived. The granular form ensures that the acid is easily dispersible in mixtures, making it highly sought after for a variety of applications.

Comparison with Other Forms of Citric Acid

  • Granules vs. Powder: While both forms are dry, the granules are larger and have a coarser texture compared to the powder form. This difference in texture affects how they dissolve and are used in various applications. The granular form is often preferred for direct consumer products and applications where slower dissolution is beneficial, whereas the powder is sought after for its quick-dissolving properties and is commonly used in industrial applications and as an additive in food and beverages for immediate acidity adjustments.
  • Granules vs. Liquid: Liquid citric acid is citric acid dissolved in water, ready to use in applications requiring a liquid form for easier blending. The choice between granular and liquid forms largely depends on the application’s specific requirements. Liquid citric acid is ideal for situations where a premixed solution is convenient, such as in beverages and cleaning products. Meanwhile, granules offer a shelf-stable, non-liquid option that is perfect for dry mixes, seasoning blends, and when control over the dilution rate or concentration is necessary.

Each form of citric acid has its unique advantages and applications. Citric acid granules, with their ease of handling, stability, and controlled dissolution rate, make a versatile and invaluable ingredient in a wide range of industries, from food production to pharmaceuticals and beyond.

The production of citric acid granules is a fascinating journey from simple carbohydrates to a versatile, widely used product.
The production of citric acid granules is a fascinating journey from simple carbohydrates to a versatile, widely used product.

The Production Process

The production of citric acid granules is a fascinating journey from simple carbohydrates to a versatile, widely used product. This process hinges on fermentation, leveraging the power of microorganisms to convert sugars into citric acid. Let’s delve into the stages of this process, highlighting the key raw materials and the role of fermentation.

Overview of Production

The production of citric acid, specifically in its granular form, involves several key steps: fermentation, recovery, purification, and crystallization. The process begins with the preparation of a nutrient-rich medium, followed by fermentation, where specific strains of microorganisms metabolize sugars to produce citric acid. The acid is then extracted from the fermentation broth, purified, and finally crystallized into the granular form that is packaged and distributed.

Key Raw Materials

The primary raw material for citric acid production is a carbohydrate source, typically derived from corn, sugarcane, or beet molasses. These substrates are rich in sugars, which are essential for microbial fermentation. In addition to the carbohydrate source, the fermentation medium is supplemented with nitrogen sources, vitamins, and minerals to optimize the growth and productivity of the microorganisms involved in the process.

The Fermentation Process

The heart of citric acid production lies in the fermentation process, which utilizes strains of the fungus Aspergillus niger. This microorganism is particularly efficient at converting sugars into citric acid under specific conditions of pH, temperature, and aeration.

  1. Preparation of the Fermentation Medium: The process begins with the preparation of a sterile, nutrient-rich medium containing the carbohydrate source and essential nutrients.
  2. Inoculation and Fermentation: The prepared medium is inoculated with Aspergillus niger. The fermentation takes place in aerated, stirred tanks, where conditions are carefully controlled to favor the production of citric acid over other byproducts. The process typically lasts several days, during which the sugar is metabolized into citric acid, which accumulates in the solution.
  3. Recovery and Purification: After fermentation, the broth contains citric acid along with microbial biomass and other metabolic byproducts. The citric acid is recovered through filtration to remove the biomass, followed by chemical treatments to purify the acid.
  4. Crystallization: The purified citric acid solution is concentrated by evaporation, and then citric acid is crystallized out of the solution. The crystals are harvested, washed, and dried, resulting in citric acid granules.
  5. Packaging: The final step involves packaging the granules for distribution and use across various industries.

The production of citric acid granules is a prime example of industrial biotechnology at work, transforming simple sugars into a valuable product through the power of microbial fermentation. This process not only exemplifies the efficiency of biological systems in producing high-value chemicals but also highlights the importance of microbial bioprocessing in the modern industrial landscape.

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Properties and Characteristics

Citric acid granules, a fundamental ingredient in numerous sectors, exhibit a range of chemical and physical properties that make them highly versatile and valuable. Understanding these properties is crucial for their effective application and storage. This section delves into the chemical characteristics, solubility, and ideal storage conditions of citric acid granules, shedding light on their widespread utility and functionality.

Chemical Properties

Citric acid (C6H8O7) is a tricarboxylic acid with three carboxyl groups (-COOH) that confer its strong acidic nature. This structure is pivotal for its role in metabolic pathways, particularly the citric acid cycle (Krebs cycle), which is fundamental in the bioenergetics of aerobic organisms. The presence of three dissociable hydrogen ions contributes to its ability to function as a chelating agent, binding metal ions, which is beneficial in food preservation, pharmaceuticals, and detergents. Its chemical behavior is characterized by:

  • pKa Values: Citric acid is a polyprotic acid, meaning it can lose more than one proton. It has three pKa values corresponding to its three dissociable protons, making it effective over a wide range of pH levels.
  • Chelating Ability: The ability to form stable complexes with metal ions, which is crucial in preventing oxidation and color changes in foods and beverages.
  • Reactivity: As an acid, it can participate in typical acid-base reactions, esterification, and can act as an antioxidant.

Physical Properties

  • Appearance: Citric acid granules are white or colorless, crystalline solids with a granular texture. The granular form facilitates ease of handling and measurement.
  • Solubility: Citric acid is highly soluble in water, which solubility increases with temperature. It is also moderately soluble in ethanol and practically insoluble in ether. This high solubility in water makes it particularly useful in aqueous formulations, ranging from food and beverages to cleaning products and cosmetics.
  • Melting Point: Pure citric acid has a melting point of about 153°C (307°F). However, it tends to decompose before melting at temperatures above 175°C (347°F), which is relevant for its use in high-temperature processes.
  • Stability and Storage Conditions: Citric acid granules are stable under most conditions but can absorb moisture from the air (hygroscopic). Therefore, they should be stored in a cool, dry place in tightly sealed containers to prevent caking and degradation. The product is also sensitive to heat and light, which can degrade its quality over time. Proper storage conditions ensure the preservation of its quality and efficacy for extended periods.


The properties of citric acid granules—ranging from their chemical reactivity and chelating abilities to their physical characteristics like solubility and storage requirements—underscore their significance in various applications. These characteristics enable their widespread use in industries such as food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and cleaning products, among others. Understanding these properties allows for the optimized use of citric acid granules, ensuring they fulfill their roles effectively in each application.

Applications of Citric Acid Granules

Citric acid granules, with their multifaceted properties, find applications across a broad spectrum of industries. Their versatility stems from their ability to act as preservatives, pH regulators, and flavor enhancers, among other roles. This section explores the widespread use of citric acid granules in the food and beverage industry, pharmaceuticals, cleaning and cosmetics, and other sectors, highlighting their critical contributions to product quality and functionality.

Food and Beverage Industry

In the food and beverage sector, citric acid granules play several crucial roles:

  • Preservative: Citric acid inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi, extending the shelf life of products. It is commonly used in canned fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meat products.
  • Flavor Enhancer: Its sour taste enhances the flavor profile of foods and beverages, such as soft drinks, fruit juices, candies, and jams.
  • pH Regulator: By adjusting the acidity, citric acid helps maintain the desired pH level in foods and drinks, which is vital for controlling the texture, color, and taste of the product.

Pharmaceutical Industry

In pharmaceuticals, citric acid granules contribute to both the efficacy and the appeal of products:

  • Medications: It’s used as an active ingredient in effervescent systems, such as pain relief and antacid tablets, where it reacts with bicarbonates to release carbon dioxide, aiding in quick dissolution.
  • Dietary Supplements: Citric acid is added to vitamin supplements, particularly those in chewable forms, to enhance taste and stability.

Cleaning and Cosmetics

Citric acid granules are increasingly popular in eco-friendly cleaning products and cosmetics due to their natural origin and biodegradability:

  • Cleaning Agents: Leveraged for its ability to dissolve mineral build-ups, citric acid is a key ingredient in descaling agents and general-purpose cleaners.
  • Cosmetics and Skincare: It adjusts the pH of cosmetics, acting as a preservative and an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), promoting skin renewal for a brighter, more even complexion.

Other Industrial Uses

Beyond these sectors, citric acid granules find applications in various industrial processes:

  • Water Treatment: Citric acid is used to soften water, making it less corrosive to pipes and machinery.
  • Textile Industry: It’s utilized in dyeing processes, where it acts as a pH adjuster and chelating agent, ensuring even color distribution and fixation.
  • Photography: In photographic development, citric acid is used as a stop bath agent because of its neutralizing effects on alkaline developer solutions.

The applications of citric acid granules are vast and varied, underlining their indispensable role in modern industry. Whether enhancing flavors in food, ensuring stability in pharmaceuticals, contributing to eco-friendly cleaning and cosmetic formulations, or improving processes in other industrial applications, citric acid granules continue to be a valuable asset across multiple domains.

Citric acid is naturally occurring and fully biodegradable, which minimizes its impact on the environment.
Citric acid is naturally occurring and fully biodegradable, which minimizes its impact on the environment.

Benefits and Advantages

The utilization of citric acid granules across various industries is not only due to their effectiveness in numerous applications but also because of their environmental benefits, safety profile, and unparalleled versatility. This section elucidates the multifaceted advantages of citric acid granules, highlighting why they are preferred over other chemical additives in many contexts.

Environmental Benefits

  • Biodegradability: Citric acid is naturally occurring and fully biodegradable, which minimizes its impact on the environment. Its use in products ensures that the environmental footprint is significantly reduced compared to synthetic chemicals that may persist in ecosystems.
  • Sourced from Renewable Resources: Derived mainly from the fermentation of sugars found in corn and other plants, citric acid is a sustainable option that relies on renewable resources, contributing to its eco-friendly profile.
  • Non-toxic to Aquatic Life: Unlike many chemical additives, citric acid is generally safe for aquatic organisms, making it a preferred choice in applications where runoff into water bodies is a concern.

Safety Profile

  • Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS): Citric acid is designated as GRAS by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has a similar status in many other countries, indicating that it is considered safe for consumption when used as directed.
  • Low Toxicity: Citric acid has a relatively low toxicity profile, making it safer for use in food, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products compared to many synthetic alternatives. It is also non-irritant at concentrations typically used in consumer products.
  • Allergen-Free: Being a natural component found in citrus fruits and produced via microbial fermentation, citric acid does not contain common allergens, making it suitable for use in hypoallergenic formulations.

Versatility Across Different Applications

  • Wide Range of Uses: From food preservation, flavor enhancement, and pH regulation to roles in cleaning products, pharmaceuticals, and industrial processes, citric acid’s applicability spans a broad spectrum. Its ability to perform multiple functions makes it an invaluable ingredient in many formulations.
  • Compatibility: Citric acid’s chemical nature allows it to be compatible with a wide variety of substances, enhancing its utility in complex formulations where interactions between ingredients are a concern.
  • Formulation Flexibility: Available in granules, powder, and liquid forms, citric acid offers formulators flexibility in designing products for specific needs and preferences, further underlining its versatility.

The benefits and advantages of citric acid granules extend beyond their functional contributions to products and processes. Their environmental credentials, safety for consumers, and adaptability across a wide range of applications underscore why citric acid continues to be a substance of choice in many sectors, harmonizing efficacy with sustainability and safety.

Handling and Storage

Proper handling and storage of citric acid granules are crucial to maintain their quality, ensure safety during use, and extend their shelf life. This section provides recommended practices for handling citric acid granules and outlines the optimal storage conditions to preserve their integrity over time.

Recommended Practices for Safe Handling

  • Wear Protective Gear: When handling citric acid granules, especially in large quantities or during manufacturing processes, wearing protective clothing, gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask is recommended to avoid skin and eye irritation and to prevent inhalation of dust particles.
  • Avoid Direct Contact: Direct contact with citric acid granules can cause skin and eye irritation. In case of contact, rinse the affected area with plenty of water. If irritation persists, seek medical attention.
  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure adequate ventilation in the area where citric acid granules are handled to disperse any dust and prevent respiratory discomfort.
  • Safe Storage of Tools and Containers: Use appropriate tools and containers that are clean, dry, and designated for food-grade materials (if applicable) to avoid contamination and ensure safe handling.

Storage Conditions to Maintain Quality and Extend Shelf Life

  • Keep in a Cool, Dry Place: Citric acid granules should be stored in a cool, dry environment, away from sources of moisture, to prevent them from clumping together or losing their granular integrity.
  • Avoid Exposure to Heat and Light: Excessive heat and direct sunlight can degrade citric acid over time, affecting its quality and efficacy. Store the granules in a location that remains relatively cool and is not exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Tightly Sealed Containers: To protect against moisture and air, citric acid granules should be stored in tightly sealed containers. This prevents the absorption of moisture and other contaminants and helps maintain the product’s quality.
  • Separation from Incompatible Substances: Store citric acid granules away from strong bases, oxidizing agents, and chemicals with which it could react. A separate storage area or clearly marked containers can help prevent accidental mixing.
  • Label Storage Containers: Clearly label storage containers with the contents and the date of storage. This practice helps manage inventory, prevents the use of expired materials, and ensures that handling guidelines are followed.

By adhering to these recommended practices for handling and storage, the quality and safety of citric acid granules can be preserved, ensuring they remain effective for their intended applications. Proper handling and storage not only extend the product’s shelf life but also contribute to workplace safety and environmental protection.

Citric acid is used to soften water, making it less corrosive to pipes and machinery.
Citric acid is used to soften water, making it less corrosive to pipes and machinery.

Regulatory Considerations

The regulatory status of citric acid granules and their labeling requirements vary across different jurisdictions. Understanding these regulations is crucial for manufacturers and distributors to ensure compliance and market access. This section provides an overview of the regulatory landscape in key markets such as the United States and Europe and highlights general labeling requirements for products containing citric acid granules.

Regulatory Status

  • United States (FDA): In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes citric acid as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use in food and beverages. It is approved for use as a food additive for its intended purposes, including as a preservative, acidulant, and flavoring agent. The FDA also regulates citric acid under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, ensuring that it meets specified standards of identity and purity when used in pharmaceuticals and personal care products.
  • European Union (EMA/EU): The European Medicines Agency (EMA), along with other regulatory bodies in the European Union, oversees the use of citric acid in pharmaceuticals, classifying it as an excipient with established uses. In the food sector, citric acid is approved as a food additive (E330) under EU legislation, governed by Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on food additives, which includes specifications for its purity and conditions of use.

Labeling Requirements

Labeling requirements for products containing citric acid granules ensure consumer safety and informed choice. While specific requirements can vary, common elements include:

  • Ingredient Disclosure: Products containing citric acid, whether food, pharmaceuticals, or cosmetics, must list it as an ingredient on the packaging. In foods and beverages, citric acid should be identified by its name or the E-number (E330) in the European Union.
  • Concentration or Quantity: Some jurisdictions may require the disclosure of the concentration or quantity of citric acid used in the product, particularly in pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements, to inform consumer usage and safety.
  • Purpose of Use: For certain products, especially where citric acid is used as a preservative or pH adjuster, the label may need to indicate its functional purpose.
  • Allergy Information: Although citric acid is not a common allergen, products formulated for individuals with sensitive skin or specific dietary restrictions may voluntarily include information about the presence of citric acid to guide consumer choices.
  • Country-Specific Regulations: Manufacturers must adhere to country-specific regulations governing the labeling of citric acid in products. This includes following local guidelines for language, label placement, and additional disclosures required by national authorities.

Regulatory compliance and accurate labeling are essential for the successful marketing of products containing citric acid granules. Manufacturers and distributors should stay informed about the regulatory requirements in each market where their products are sold to ensure compliance and safeguard consumer trust.

Future Trends and Developments

The citric acid market is dynamic, with ongoing innovations in production techniques, the exploration of new applications, and a growing emphasis on environmental sustainability. These trends reflect the industry’s response to global challenges and opportunities, aiming to meet the evolving demands of consumers and businesses alike. This section highlights some of the anticipated future trends and developments in the world of citric acid granules.

Innovations in Production Techniques

  • Biotechnological Advances: Continuous research in biotechnology is leading to more efficient and cost-effective microbial strains for the fermentation process, potentially increasing yield and reducing production costs. Genetic engineering and metabolic engineering are at the forefront of these developments, enhancing the capabilities of microorganisms like Aspergillus niger to produce citric acid.
  • Waste Valorization: There’s a growing interest in using agricultural and food waste as raw materials for citric acid production. This approach not only reduces waste but also aligns with circular economy principles, making the production process more sustainable.
  • Process Optimization: Innovations in process technology, including the use of immobilized cells and enzymes, continuous fermentation processes, and advanced purification techniques, are expected to make citric acid production more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Emerging Applications in New Industries

  • Biodegradable Polymers: As the world seeks alternatives to petroleum-based plastics, citric acid is being explored as a monomer in the synthesis of biodegradable polymers. These applications demonstrate the potential of citric acid in contributing to sustainable material science.
  • Energy Storage: Research into using citric acid in energy storage solutions, such as batteries and supercapacitors, is an exciting development. Its properties as a natural electrolyte could pave the way for more environmentally friendly energy storage systems.
  • Agriculture: Beyond its traditional roles, citric acid is finding new applications in agriculture, including as a natural pesticide and soil amendment. These uses leverage its biodegradability and low toxicity to provide eco-friendly solutions for crop management.

Environmental Sustainability Efforts

  • Reducing Carbon Footprint: The industry is focused on reducing the carbon footprint of citric acid production through energy-efficient processes, renewable energy sources, and carbon capture technologies. These efforts aim to minimize the environmental impact of manufacturing operations.
  • Water Use and Recycling: Water management strategies, including the recycling and reuse of water in production facilities, are critical to enhancing the sustainability of citric acid manufacturing. Such measures address both the conservation of water resources and the reduction of wastewater generation.
  • Sustainable Sourcing: There is an increasing emphasis on sustainable sourcing of raw materials for citric acid production. Certifications for sustainable agriculture practices among suppliers of sugar and other feedstocks are becoming more common, ensuring that production supports environmental and social responsibility across the supply chain.

The future of citric acid granules lies in innovation, sustainability, and the exploration of new applications. These developments not only promise to enhance the efficiency and environmental profile of citric acid production but also open up new opportunities for its use across a wide range of industries. As the demand for eco-friendly and versatile products continues to grow, citric acid granules are well-positioned to meet these challenges, driving forward a more sustainable and innovative future.


The exploration of citric acid granules across this article underscores their indispensable role and versatility in a myriad of applications spanning from food preservation and flavor enhancement to pharmaceutical formulations, eco-friendly cleaning solutions, and beyond. The unique properties of citric acid granules, such as their ability to act as a natural preservative, pH regulator, and chelating agent, alongside their favorable safety profile and environmental benefits, have cemented their position as a valuable ingredient in numerous industries.

Recap of Importance and Versatility

Citric acid granules stand out for their multifunctionality, safety, and eco-friendliness. They have been shown to be pivotal in enhancing the taste and nutritional value of food, ensuring the efficacy and stability of pharmaceuticals, and contributing to the development of safer and more sustainable cleaning and personal care products. The detailed discussion of their production process, properties, applications, handling and storage, regulatory considerations, and the emphasis on their benefits and advantages highlight the comprehensive role citric acid plays in modern manufacturing and consumer goods.

Future Outlook

Looking ahead, the future of citric acid granules appears promising and is likely to be characterized by continuous innovation, expanded applications, and an increased focus on sustainability. Innovations in production techniques, potentially involving advances in biotechnology and fermentation processes, are expected to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and minimize environmental impact. The emergence of new applications in industries such as bioplastics, renewable energy, and nanotechnology offers exciting possibilities for leveraging the unique properties of citric acid in novel ways.

Environmental sustainability efforts are set to play a critical role in shaping the future of citric acid granule production. As industries and consumers alike grow increasingly conscious of environmental impacts, the demand for sustainable, biodegradable, and renewable materials like citric acid is expected to rise. This trend will likely encourage further research into optimizing production processes to reduce water usage, energy consumption, and carbon footprint, aligning with global sustainability goals.

In conclusion, citric acid granules, with their vast array of uses, beneficial characteristics, and alignment with eco-friendly practices, are poised to continue being a substance of choice across diverse sectors. As industries evolve and new challenges arise, the versatility and adaptability of citric acid granules will remain invaluable, ensuring their relevance and significance in the years to come.


While this article synthesizes information broadly relevant to the topic of citric acid granules, specific scholarly articles, industry reports, and regulatory documents have not been directly cited. For those seeking to delve deeper into specific aspects of citric acid granules, such as detailed production processes, regulatory frameworks, or advanced applications, consulting sources such as:

These resources can provide in-depth insights and up-to-date information on the production, application, and regulation of citric acid granules. They serve as valuable references for researchers, industry professionals, and stakeholders interested in the comprehensive aspects of citric acid usage and its future directions.

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