Anhydrous Citric Acid vs. Monohydrate Citric Acid

What's the Difference?

Anhydrous citric acid and monohydrate citric acid are two forms of citric acid that differ in their water content. Anhydrous citric acid is citric acid in its purest form, containing no water molecules. On the other hand, monohydrate citric acid contains one water molecule per citric acid molecule. This difference in water content affects their physical properties and applications. Anhydrous citric acid is a dry, crystalline powder that is highly soluble in water, making it ideal for use in food and beverage industries as a flavor enhancer, preservative, or acidulant. Monohydrate citric acid, with its water molecule, is also a crystalline powder but is less soluble in water. It is commonly used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and personal care products due to its ability to act as a pH adjuster, antioxidant, or chelating agent.


AttributeAnhydrous Citric AcidMonohydrate Citric Acid
Chemical FormulaC6H8O7C6H8O7.H2O
DescriptionAnhydrous form of citric acidCitric acid with one molecule of water
AppearanceWhite crystalline powderColorless crystals or white powder
SolubilitySoluble in waterSoluble in water
HygroscopicityHygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the air)Less hygroscopic compared to anhydrous form
Water ContentNo water contentContains one molecule of water
UsesFood additive, flavor enhancer, acidulantFood additive, flavor enhancer, acidulant

Further Detail


Citric acid is a versatile organic acid widely used in various industries, including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and cleaning products. It is commonly available in two forms: anhydrous citric acid and monohydrate citric acid. While both forms share similar chemical properties, they differ in certain attributes that make them suitable for specific applications. In this article, we will explore and compare the attributes of anhydrous citric acid and monohydrate citric acid, shedding light on their differences and applications.

Physical Properties

Anhydrous citric acid is a white crystalline powder with a strong acidic taste. It is highly soluble in water and ethanol, making it easy to dissolve in various liquid formulations. On the other hand, monohydrate citric acid is also a white crystalline powder but contains one molecule of water per molecule of citric acid. This water content gives it a slightly lower solubility in water compared to anhydrous citric acid. However, monohydrate citric acid still dissolves readily in water, making it suitable for most applications.

Chemical Composition

The chemical composition of anhydrous citric acid and monohydrate citric acid is identical, with both forms having the molecular formula C6H8O7. The only difference lies in the presence of water molecules in monohydrate citric acid. This water content affects the physical properties and behavior of the two forms, as discussed earlier.


Anhydrous citric acid is hygroscopic, meaning it readily absorbs moisture from the surrounding environment. This attribute can be advantageous in certain applications where moisture absorption is desired, such as in desiccants or humidity control products. On the other hand, monohydrate citric acid has a lower tendency to absorb moisture due to its water content. This makes it more stable in humid conditions and less prone to clumping or caking.


Both anhydrous citric acid and monohydrate citric acid find extensive use in the food and beverage industry as acidulants, flavor enhancers, and preservatives. They provide a sour taste and act as pH regulators in various products, including soft drinks, candies, jams, and sauces. Anhydrous citric acid is often preferred in dry mix formulations, where its hygroscopic nature helps prevent moisture absorption and maintain product stability. Monohydrate citric acid, on the other hand, is commonly used in liquid formulations, where its slightly lower solubility is not a concern.

In the pharmaceutical industry, both forms of citric acid are utilized as excipients in tablet formulations. They aid in the dissolution of active ingredients and enhance the bioavailability of certain drugs. Anhydrous citric acid is often preferred in this application due to its higher solubility, allowing for faster disintegration and dissolution of tablets. Monohydrate citric acid, with its lower solubility, may be used in specific cases where slower drug release is desired.

Citric acid, in both forms, also finds use in cosmetic and personal care products. It acts as a pH adjuster, chelating agent, and preservative in various skincare formulations, shampoos, and soaps. Anhydrous citric acid is commonly used in powdered cosmetic products, while monohydrate citric acid is suitable for liquid or gel formulations.

Furthermore, citric acid is employed in cleaning products as a natural and effective cleaning agent. It helps remove mineral deposits, rust stains, and soap scum, making it a popular ingredient in household cleaners, dishwasher detergents, and descaling solutions. Both anhydrous and monohydrate citric acid can be used in cleaning applications, depending on the specific formulation requirements.


In conclusion, anhydrous citric acid and monohydrate citric acid are two forms of citric acid that share similar chemical properties but differ in certain attributes. Anhydrous citric acid is highly soluble, hygroscopic, and suitable for dry mix formulations, while monohydrate citric acid has slightly lower solubility, is less hygroscopic, and finds use in liquid formulations. Both forms have extensive applications in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and cleaning industries, where they contribute to the taste, stability, and performance of various products. Understanding the differences between anhydrous citric acid and monohydrate citric acid allows for informed decision-making when selecting the appropriate form for a specific application.

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