Citric acid powder placed in a spoon with raw lemon in background
undefined undefined/iStock/GettyImages

Citric acid may sound as if it belongs in a chem lab rather than the kitchen. However, citric acid is the same acid that makes lemons and limes tart and is extremely helpful when it comes to preserving, emulsifying or canning foods. It is also used in cheese making or to create soaps or bath bombs. It can also be used as a photo developer or cleaning agent.

DIY Citric Acid

Pure citric acid can be purchased as a crystalline powder which can then be dissolved to make citric acid solution. DIY citric acid powder or solution should be made with care, as it may lend itself to the growth of fungus.

To make citric acid solution, combine citric acid crystals (sometimes known as sour salt) with 1 or 2 pints of distilled boiled water per each pound of citric acid. Place citric acid crystals in a nonmetal pot and slowly pour the boiling water into the pot, stirring with a nonmetal spoon. Filter the solution using filter paper or a coffee filter to remove any nondissolved crystals.

Lemon Juice as a Substitute

Citric acid formula doesn't offer many nutrients, while using lemon juice in its place can help increase the intake of vitamin C. Each ounce of lemon juice contains about 1.5 grams of citric acid, making it a good option to act as a substitute for citric acid.

This works especially well for canning foods because it needs to contain a certain amount of acidity or sugar in order to prevent foodborne illnesses. Bottled lemon juice with its consistent acidity level is an ideal agent to use in canning foods, as fresh lemon juice may vary in the amount of acidity.

Create DIY Bath Bombs

Citric acid powder is also the perfect way to build a bath bomb at home that can be used for anything from relaxing to detoxifying to boosting the immune system. Mix up citric acid powder, Epsom salts, baking soda and coconut oil to mix up a bath bomb in the kitchen.

Citric Acid Powder Bath Bomb Recipe

Total Time: 3 hours | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 6-12 bath bombs

This easy-to-make mix is a great way to make bath bombs that are perfect for gifting or for simply relaxing in the tub after a long day.


  • 2 tablespoons organic, raw virgin coconut oil 

  • 1/2 cup Epsom salts

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid 
  • Olive oil for greasing the pan


  1. Separate the coconut oil in its own bowl. Mix the dry ingredients well in another bowl.

  2. Slowly add the coconut oil to the bowl with the Epsom salts, baking soda and citric acid.

  3. Start shaping the mixture into small balls.

  4. Prepare each compartment of a muffin pan with a few drops of olive oil.

  5. Put a small bath bomb ball firmly within each muffin mold, as they will expand.

  6. Place in a well-ventilated area until they are dry to the touch, at least three hours or overnight.

  7. Store in an airtight container or parchment paper bag until ready to use. 

Uses for Citric Acid

Citric acid is a versatile chemical compound that has an array of uses, spanning from the kitchen to the household to the arts. Use it when canning or preserving food, as a natural cleaning agent, to develop photos or to make soap or bath bombs.