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What Is Anhydrous Citric Acid?

author image Jennifer Terry
Jennifer Terry is program director for TriCounty Agency for Intellectual Disabilities. As a University of Alabama graduate, she holds a Masters in rehabilitation counseling and a Bachelor in psychology with an emphasis in child development. She also earned an Associate in business management and second Associate in computer information systems from Bevill State Community College. She holds a grant writing certificate from North Georgia College and State University.
What Is Anhydrous Citric Acid?
Anhydrous Citric Acid has the appearance of white powder. Photo Credit: lnzyx/iStock/Getty Images

Anhydrous Citric Acid has the chemical name Citric Acid and has the appearance of an odorless, colorless, white powder. This substance is toxic to plants and should not be used on any plant life that is of value. Anhydrous means that the substance has no water and is in a dry, granulated form. Citric acid is found naturally in plants and animals. It is used in the fermentation of cane sugar and molasses.

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Citric Acid was discovered in the 8th century and although people were aware of the acidic nature of limes and lemons, there was little information about the discovery and uses until later years. It wasn’t until 1784 when a Swedish chemist, Carl Scheele was able to crystallize lemon juice. In World War I citric acid became important to industries.


There are many uses for this dry form of citric acid. It can be used in flavorings, cosmetics, candy, gelatin, jams, jellies, soft drinks and fruit. It has the ability to retard discoloration and retain flavor and vitamins. Salts or citrates of citric acid is also used as anticoagulants and are used to lower the citric acid in urine to treat kidney stones by lessening calcium deposits. Anhydrous citric acid has been used to control Caribbean Tree Frogs on the Hawaiian Islands.

Effects of Citric Acid

Dr. Tomohiro Sugino led a 2007 study on the effects of Citric Acid vs. Placebo on volunteers. The study volunteers who citric acid during the test had less mental and physical fatigue than volunteers who ingested the placebo. People who took citric acid had lower stress markers than the placebo group as well. Citric acid is a large part of the tricarboxylic acid cycle, which increases energy. The study supported the theory that citric acid has a better track record for anti-fatigue than hydroxycitric acid.

Environmental and Health Impact

Citric acid helps reduce toxins in the environment because it is an all natural ingredient in many products. The cleaners made wither citric acid as an active ingredient reduces production of chemical cleaners. Pharmaceutical use of citric acid reduces the toxins manufactured and ingested. Fewer people are allergic to the natural ingredient, though some may have a stomach or skin sensitivity to products that use citric acid.


Avoid heat and flames around the substance. Caution needs to be taken with this substance as it will cause respiratory irritation and can also cause eye and skin irritations. Wear protective clothing when handling citric acid. This chemical substance has the ability to ignite dust explosions under certain conditions.

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