Food flavoring and preservative:
Citric acid can be added to processed and packaged foods and drinks such as ice cream, sorbets, sodas, wine and canned and jarred foods, as a preservative, an emulsifying agent and as a sour flavoring. Citric acid is added to many canned and jarred foods to help prevent botulism.
Cosmetics and personal care products:
As an ingredient in personal care products, citric acid can help to brighten skin, correct dark spots and minimize fine lines. Products containing citric acid can be formulated for use near the eyes, lips, mouth and nasal passages, as well as for safe application to babies’ skin. Citric acid and its salts may also be used in hairsprays, and deodorant and body sprays. Sodium citrate, a salt of citric acid, is used in lipstick, soap, and in detergent. Citric acid and its salts can be used to preserve cosmetics and personal care products, and to help adjust their pH level.
Citric acid is used to help kill harmful bacteria, as well as infections on the surface of the skin that can be common in people with diabetes, the elderly and people who smoke. Citric acid also can be combined with sodium citrate and potassium citrate to lower acid levels in the urine to help prevent gout attacks.
Antioxidants, which are derived from citric acid, can help keep food edible over a longer period of time. For example, sprinkling lemon juice, which contains citric acid, over apples or bananas can help prevent them from turning brown. Ascorbic acid, better known as Vitamin C, is also found in citric acid and is often used to help protect and preserve soft drinks and meats.
Citric acid may be added to commercial cleaning products, as it can help remove hard water build-up on dishes and glassware. It also can be used to remove coffee and tea stains, yellowing/browning discolorations and water and urine stains. Some commercial products that contain citric acid are water-based and can cause corrosion on metals. To minimize and prevent rust, dry the metal after cleaning it.