Citric acid is a weak organic acid. It can be found in citrus fruits. It acts like a preservative. It is also used to add a sour (acidic) taste to foods and soft drinks.
Carl Wilhelm Scheele was the first who could extract citric acid from lemons, in 1782. The substance was probably known to alchemists, perhaps with a different name. The Arabian alchemist Geber is said to have discovered citric acid in the 9th century.
Citric acid is a weak organic acid. It is a natural preservative and is also used to add an acidic, or sour, taste to foods and soft drinks. In biochemistry, it is important as an intermediate in the citric acid cycle and therefore occurs in the metabolism of almost all living things. It also serves as an environmentally benign cleaning agent and acts as an antioxidant.
Citric acid exists in a variety of fruits and vegetables, most notably citrus fruits. Lemons and limes have particularly high concentrations of the acid; it can constitute as much as 8% of the dry weight of these fruits (1.44 and 1.38 grams per ounce of the juices, respectively). The concentrations of citric acid in citrus fruits range from .005 mol/L for oranges and grapefruits to .030 mol/L in lemons and limes. These values will vary depending on the circumstances in which the fruit was grown.
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