Citric acid was first successfully isolated in 1784 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele. However, historians assume that alchemists discovered citric acid as early as the 9th century and used a different name. Citric acid is one of the most widespread acids in the plant world and is found as a metabolic product in almost all organisms. In pure lemon juice, it is present in a proportion of between five and seven percent.
The extraction and production of citric acid is carried out by using citrus fruits. Chemical extraction is carried out in the first step by adding a concentrated ammonia solution to the lemon juice. The thickened mass is then subjected to a filtration process. A few steps later, pure citric acid is obtained through the process of crystallisation.
The range of uses for citric acid is extremely broad and, contrary to widespread opinion, is not only supported by its acid content. Its predominant use as a cleaning agent is due to the formation of a so-called calcium complex. As a well-known household remedy, citric acid is a good alternative to odour-intensive vinegar cleaners because of these properties. However, in this context, the acid should not be heated in order to maintain the chemical properties.
Citric acid is also suitable for descaling immersion heaters, kettles or shower heads. In various areas of the food industry, the acid is used in the production of iced tea and lemonade. Due to the various areas of application, the colourless acid is a thoroughly useful agent in the most diverse areas of daily life.
In addition to food and as a little helper in the household, the acid has been an important component in industrial product production for many years and it has been impossible to imagine life without it.