How to use citric acid as a preservative

Written by meredith jameson
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How to use citric acid as a preservative
Citrus fruits are high in citric acid. (citrus fruit image by Andrzej Włodarczyk from

Citric acid is a natural acid found in fruits such as lemons, limes, peaches, plums, grapefruit and oranges. Citric acid is responsible for the tart taste in many citrus fruits and can be extracted by adding calcium oxide, which forms calcium citrate. Citric acid promotes healthy digestion, may prevent urinary tract infections, and is a natural preservative, according to the website The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved citric acid for use in food. Try citric acid as a preservative for both food and skincare products. Citric acid powder can be purchased at many natural health and food stores or online.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Citric acid powder
  • Citrus fruits

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  1. 1

    Boil 2 cups of distilled water and then add 0.05 per cent to 0.1 per cent citric acid powder to the water. Stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool. Add when cooled to homemade skin products such as lotion, lye soap and face cream as a preservative.

  2. 2

    Squeeze a citrus fruit such as a lemon or lime over fresh produce to keep it from browning. The citric acid is particularly useful in preventing cut apples or bananas from browning after exposure to air.

  3. 3

    Use 1 tsp citric acid per qt. of water or juice when canning produce to help preserve the final product.

  4. 4

    Add 1 tsp citric acid per qt. of rinse and soak water when sprouting seeds until ready to consume.

  5. 5

    Use 28.4 and 14.2gr. per 45.4kg. of meat when preserving meat, such as jerky. Add to meat while seasoning the meat and prior to casing, grilling or smoking.

Tips and warnings

  • While allergies to citric acid are rare, if you experience rashes, hives or difficulty breathing after consuming citric acid, discontinue use and consult a doctor.

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