Citric acid is a weak organic acid that is found in citrus fruit. It is now produced in the form of powder. It is commonly used as a natural preservative. When mixed with food, it gives a sour (acidic) taste and sometimes becomes a little bitter with very high concentrations. Citrus fruits like lime and lemon both have a high level of acid concentration. Citric acid is also important in biochemistry as it plays a vital role in the process of metabolism.
Citric acid can be used as an additive in foods. Although it tastes bitter, when mixed with food it gives a sour or acidic taste. It is added as a flavoring in making Vitamin C and in preparing carbonated drinks such as soft drinks. It is present in sour candies - the white powder coating candies is citric acid. In preparing meat, citric acid can be used as a meat tenderizer since it can break down the proteins of meat. It is also used as a natural cleaning agent.
Citric acid easily bonds with metals and minerals thus it is helpful in softening water. Laundry soap and detergent work effectively when they contain citric acid. It makes shampoos work well because it removes the excess minerals in water. Sometimes, a very high concentration of citric acid may damage hair because it opens the cuticles of the hair and strips off the minerals needed thus bleaching occurs. As a cleaning agent, citric acid is used in removing water stains in the bathroom and kitchen, without the need for scrubbing. It is used to dissolve rust from steel materials. It is also used in developing photography. In lotions and skin masks, citric acid is also present but too much use and exposure may damage the skin especially sensitive ones.
For safety, avoid contact with dry or concentrated citric acid solution, as it can lead to skin irritations. Contact with the eyes may give you a burning sensation can even lead to blindness in prolonged use. Avoid inhaling or ingesting the powdered citric acid as this can cause irritation in the respiratory tract or gastrointestinal tract. Be cautious. Wear protective clothing and gears when using these products. Even too much consumption of food with citric acid can cause your tooth enamels to erode.
Although there are lots of precautions in the use of citric acid, it has good benefits too. One of them is that it has little or no hazard to the environment since it is a natural compound. There are only a few people that are allergic to citric acid. Some may have stomach sensitivity, so it’s best for them to avoid the foods that contain it.
When citric acid is inhaled, go out in the open for fresh air. If ingested, induce vomiting at once. If it comes in contact with your skin, flush the affected area with running water for a minimum of 15 minutes. If it comes into contact with your eyes, flush your eyes with running water for a minimum of 15 minutes. If symptoms persist, like difficulty in breathing, skin or eye irritation, seek medical attention at once.