How to extract citric acid from fruit

Written by clayton kim
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How to extract citric acid from fruit
Lemons contain a high amount of citric acid. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Eating citric acid makes your eyes water and your mouth pucker. Citric acid causes the sour taste in many fruits and other foods. People use it as a food preservative. Fifty grams of citric acid can be extracted from 1 litre of fruit juice. Lime, orange, and lemons contain a high volume of citric acid. Extraction of citric acid from fruit is an easy process. Simple materials available at your local hardware store are needed.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Lemon juice
  • Calcium hydroxide
  • Large glass flask
  • Freezer
  • Filter paper
  • Butter knife
  • Cooking pot

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  1. 1

    Pour 1 litre of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of calcium hydroxide into a large glass flask. Any fruit juice can be used.

  2. 2

    Heat the flask in the microwave for 1 minute. Mix the solution by swirling the flask in a circular motion. This turns citric acid into calcium citrate.

  3. 3

    Place the flask in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool the solution.

  4. 4

    Strain the solution through filter paper. The calcium citrate collects to the filter paper.

  5. 5

    Scrape the calcium citrate off the paper using a butter knife. Collect the calcium citrate on a separate piece of paper.

  6. 6

    Repeat Steps 1 to 5 until you collect 100 grams of calcium citrate.

  7. 7

    Place the calcium citrate in a cooking pot. Pour 70 grams of sulphuric acid. Cook the solution to 150F. Check the temperature using a cooking thermometer.

  8. 8

    Heat the solution for 10 minutes. Stir the solution occasionally. Carbon evaporates and leaves the citric acid.

  9. 9

    Let the solution cool. The remaining solution turns to solid citric acid.

Tips and warnings

  • Calcium hydroxide is available at your hardware store.
  • Sulphuric acid is very corrosive. Safety gloves, goggles, face mask and clothing should be worn.

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