L-Tartaric Acid vs. Tartaric Acid

What's the Difference?

L-Tartaric Acid and Tartaric Acid are both organic acids commonly found in fruits such as grapes. However, they differ in their chemical structure and properties. L-Tartaric Acid is the naturally occurring form of tartaric acid, while Tartaric Acid is a racemic mixture of L- and D-tartaric acid. L-Tartaric Acid is often used in the food and beverage industry as a flavor enhancer and stabilizer, while Tartaric Acid is commonly used in winemaking to adjust acidity levels. Overall, both acids have their own unique uses and applications in various industries.


AttributeL-Tartaric AcidTartaric Acid
Chemical FormulaC4H6O6C4H6O6
Optical ActivityLevorotatoryDextrorotatory
Natural SourceFound in grapesFound in grapes
Use in Food IndustryUsed as an acidulant and flavoring agentUsed as an acidulant and flavoring agent

Further Detail


Tartaric acid is a naturally occurring organic acid that is found in many plants, particularly in grapes. It is commonly used in the food and beverage industry as an acidulant and flavoring agent. L-Tartaric acid is the optical isomer of tartaric acid, meaning it has the same chemical formula but a different spatial arrangement of atoms. In this article, we will compare the attributes of L-Tartaric Acid and Tartaric Acid.

Chemical Structure

Tartaric acid is a dicarboxylic acid with the chemical formula C4H6O6. It has two stereocenters, giving rise to three stereoisomers: D-tartaric acid, L-tartaric acid, and meso-tartaric acid. L-Tartaric acid is the enantiomer of D-tartaric acid, meaning it is a non-superimposable mirror image. The two forms are optically active, rotating plane-polarized light in opposite directions. Tartaric acid is a white, crystalline powder that is soluble in water.

Physical Properties

Both L-Tartaric acid and tartaric acid have similar physical properties. They are both odorless and have a sour taste. They are stable at room temperature and have a melting point of around 170 degrees Celsius. Both acids are soluble in water and ethanol, but insoluble in ether. They are commonly used in the food industry as acidulants, stabilizers, and emulsifiers.


Tartaric acid is widely used in the food and beverage industry as an acidulant and flavoring agent. It is commonly added to soft drinks, candies, and baked goods to provide a sour taste. Tartaric acid is also used in winemaking to adjust the acidity of grape must and to stabilize the color and flavor of the wine. L-Tartaric acid is less commonly used in food applications but is often used in the pharmaceutical industry as a chiral resolving agent.

Health Benefits

Tartaric acid is generally recognized as safe by the FDA when used in accordance with good manufacturing practices. It is naturally found in many fruits and vegetables and is an important component of the human diet. Tartaric acid has antioxidant properties and may help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Some studies have also suggested that tartaric acid may help improve digestion and reduce inflammation in the body.

Safety Considerations

While tartaric acid is considered safe for consumption, it can cause side effects in some individuals. High doses of tartaric acid may cause gastrointestinal upset, including stomach pain, diarrhea, and nausea. Individuals with a sensitivity to tartaric acid may experience allergic reactions, such as hives or swelling. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider before consuming tartaric acid supplements or products containing high levels of tartaric acid.


In conclusion, L-Tartaric acid and tartaric acid are two forms of the same compound with similar chemical and physical properties. While tartaric acid is commonly used in the food and beverage industry, L-Tartaric acid is more often used in pharmaceutical applications. Both acids have health benefits and safety considerations that should be taken into account when consuming them. Overall, both L-Tartaric acid and tartaric acid have important roles in various industries and can be beneficial when used appropriately.

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