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What Are the Benefits of Citric Acid?

By Elizabeth Balarini ; Updated September 21, 2017

Citric acid is a weak acid found in citrus fruits. It is often used as a natural preservative and is used to add sour tastes to foods, candies and soft drinks. Citric acid also has several health and household benefits.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Components of citric acid--called citrates--are used in the treatment of alcoholism. Citrates alter the way the human body metabolizes alcohol. The citric acid citrates cause sickness after a person ingests alcohol. This helps alcoholics stop drinking, because they want to avoid becoming ill.

Uses in Heart Surgery

During open-heart surgery, surgeons use a naturally occurring salt found in citric acid--called potassium citrate--to halt the heart's pumping action. This enables doctors to repair the heart or vessels without pumping blood obscuring their view.

Laundry Uses

Citric acid possesses the ability to bind a ligand to a metal ion. Companies that manufacture laundry detergent use citric acid in in their detergents break down heavy metals in hard water. This allows the laundry soap to foam more and work more effectively.


Citric acid is used in gardening to help treat soil alkalinity. If the soil is too alkaline for a particular plant, citric acid is mixed in to help raise the soil's pH.


About the Author


Elizabeth Balarini is a freelance writer and professional blogger who began writing professionally in 2006. Her work has been published on several websites. Her articles focus on where her passions lie: writing, web development, blogging, home and garden, and health and wellness. Balarini majored in English at the University of Texas at San Antonio.