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.
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.