Citric Acid

What is it? An inexpensive white crystalline alpha hydroxy acid.
INCI Citric Acid
Appearance White crystals; looks like table salt or white sugar.
Usage rate It depends. If part of bath bombs or other “fizzing” products it can be used upwards of 25%. If being used as a pH adjuster it is used at significantly lower rates (less than 1%).
Scent Sour, tangy.
pH 2.2
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in recipes? In bath bombs and other fizzing products it forms all or most of the acidic part of the reaction that causes the fizz. It can also be used to lower the pH of products as part of a 50/50 solution of citric acid and distilled water.
Do you need it? I’d recommend it; it’s an accessible and inexpensive acid that doesn’t have the characteristic smell of vinegar.
Strengths Highly effective, inexpensive acid.
Weaknesses I can’t think of any that aren’t inherent to strong acids (potential to be irritating, sour tasting, etc.).
Alternatives & Substitutions In bath bombs it’s very difficult to adequately substitute citric acid. I have no suggestions at this time.

For pH adjusting a lactic acid solution is a good alternative.

How to Work with It In bath bombs and other primarily powdered fizzing products, include citric acid with the rest of the powdered ingredients.

For pH adjusting, create a 50/50 solution of citric acid with distilled water and use single drops to adjust the pH, re-checking the pH between additions.

Take care not to inhale.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, citric acid should last at least three years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Citric acid is an alpha hydroxy acid along with acids like lactic and glycolic.
Recommended starter amount If you want to make bath bombs I’d start with at least 500g (1lb). If it’s just for pH adjusting 30g (1oz) will be more than enough.
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Citric Acid

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