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Phosphoric Acid vs. Citric Acid: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on December 13, 2023
Phosphoric acid is a mineral (inorganic) acid used in detergents and fertilizers, while citric acid is an organic acid found in citrus fruits, used in food and beverages for flavor and preservation.

Key Differences

Phosphoric acid, a mineral acid, is composed of phosphorus, oxygen, and hydrogen. It's derived from phosphate rocks and used industrially. Citric acid, an organic compound, is found naturally in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges and is used mainly in the food and beverage industry for flavoring and as a preservative.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023
Phosphoric acid is extensively used in agriculture as a fertilizer component and in various industries for metal cleaning and rust removal. Citric acid, on the other hand, is widely used in food preparation for its tart flavor, in beverages as an acidulant, and in pharmaceuticals for effervescent formulations.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023
Phosphoric acid is a colorless, odorless solution in its pure form and is syrupy at higher concentrations. Citric acid is a white crystalline solid with a sour taste and is soluble in water, contributing to its widespread use in the culinary field.
Huma Saeed
Dec 13, 2023
Phosphoric acid can be corrosive and harmful if inhaled or upon skin contact. Citric acid is generally considered safe and is commonly used in food, but it can cause skin irritation in concentrated forms.
Harlon Moss
Dec 13, 2023
Phosphoric acid production can have significant environmental impacts, particularly concerning phosphate mining and waste. Citric acid, being biodegradable and derived from natural sources, has a lesser environmental impact.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Chemical Composition

Inorganic, contains phosphorus
Organic, contains carbon
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

Natural Occurrence

Derived from phosphate rocks
Found in citrus fruits
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

Primary Uses

Fertilizers, detergents, rust removal
Food and beverage flavoring, preservation
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

Physical Form

Colorless, odorless, syrupy liquid
White, crystalline, sour taste
Janet White
Dec 13, 2023

Health and Environmental Impact

Corrosive, hazardous in high concentrations
Generally safe, biodegradable
Aimie Carlson
Dec 13, 2023
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Phosphoric Acid and Citric Acid Definitions

Phosphoric Acid

A compound with the formula H₃PO₄, used in detergents.
Phosphoric acid effectively removes hard water stains.
Huma Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Citric Acid

A weak organic acid used as a natural preservative.
Citric acid is added to jam to extend its shelf life.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 21, 2023

Phosphoric Acid

A reagent in biochemistry and molecular biology.
Phosphoric acid is used in DNA extraction protocols.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 21, 2023

Citric Acid

A flavoring agent in food and beverages.
Citric acid enhances the fruity taste in candies.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 21, 2023

Phosphoric Acid

A food additive used to acidify foods and beverages.
Soda often contains phosphoric acid for a sharper taste.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 21, 2023

Citric Acid

Used in cleaning agents for its chelating properties.
Citric acid effectively removes lime scale from kettles.
Harlon Moss
Nov 21, 2023

Phosphoric Acid

A rust remover and metal cleaner in industries.
The mechanic used phosphoric acid to clean the corroded parts.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 21, 2023

Citric Acid

A component found in citrus fruits like lemons.
The tartness of lemonade is due to citric acid.
Huma Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Phosphoric Acid

A colorless, odorless inorganic acid used in fertilizers.
The factory produces phosphoric acid for agricultural products.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 21, 2023

Citric Acid

A key intermediate in the citric acid cycle in metabolism.
Citric acid plays a vital role in cellular energy production.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 21, 2023

FAQs

Are phosphoric acid and citric acid naturally occurring?

Phosphoric acid is derived from phosphate rocks, while citric acid is naturally present in citrus fruits.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

Can phosphoric acid be used in pharmaceuticals?

It's used in some pharmaceutical preparations, particularly as a buffer.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 13, 2023

What is phosphoric acid?

A mineral acid with the formula H₃PO₄, used in fertilizers and cleaning agents.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

Is phosphoric acid harmful?

It can be corrosive and harmful in high concentrations, requiring careful handling.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 13, 2023

What is the role of citric acid in metabolism?

It's a key intermediate in the citric acid cycle for energy production in cells.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

Is phosphoric acid used in soft drinks?

Yes, it's added to some soft drinks for tartness and as a preservative.
Janet White
Dec 13, 2023

Is citric acid biodegradable?

Yes, it's biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
Janet White
Dec 13, 2023

What is citric acid?

An organic acid found in citrus fruits, used as a flavoring and preserving agent.
Huma Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Is citric acid safe for consumption?

Yes, it's generally safe and widely used in the food industry.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

What are the environmental impacts of phosphoric acid?

Its production can have significant impacts due to phosphate mining and waste.
Janet White
Dec 13, 2023

Can both acids be used in food?

Yes, both are used in food, but citric acid is more common as a flavor enhancer and preservative.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

What industries use phosphoric acid?

It's used in agriculture, cleaning, and metal treatment industries.
Janet White
Dec 13, 2023

Can phosphoric acid remove rust?

Yes, it's effective in rust removal and metal cleaning.
Harlon Moss
Dec 13, 2023

Does citric acid have cleaning properties?

Yes, it's used in eco-friendly cleaning products due to its chelating properties.
Janet White
Dec 13, 2023

How is citric acid produced industrially?

It's produced through fermentation using certain mold strains.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

Are there any health concerns with citric acid?

In concentrated forms, it can cause skin irritation, but is generally safe in food.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

Is citric acid used in beauty products?

Yes, it's used in skincare for its antioxidant properties and pH adjustment.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 13, 2023

What's the difference in taste between the two acids?

Phosphoric acid is more sour and harsh, while citric acid has a milder, fruity sourness.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 13, 2023

Can phosphoric acid affect bone health?

Excessive consumption, particularly in soft drinks, has been linked to lower bone density.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 13, 2023

Can I substitute one acid for the other in recipes?

They can sometimes be substituted, but the flavor profile and strength differ.
Janet White
Dec 13, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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