Chemical and physical data
Formula : C6H8O6
Molar Mass: 176.12 g·mol−1
Density : 1.694 g/cm3
Melting point : 190–192 °C
Boiling point : 553 °C
What is Ascorbic Acid?
Ascorbic Acid is a natural water-soluble vitamin (Vitamin C). Ascorbic acid is a potent reducing and antioxidant agent that functions in fighting bacterial infections, in detoxifying reactions, and in the formation of collagen in fibrous tissue, teeth, bones, connective tissue, skin, and capillaries. Found in citrus and other fruits, and in vegetables, vitamin C cannot be produced or stored by humans and must be obtained in the diet.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water soluble vitamin found in citrus fruits and green vegetables and deficiency of which is the cause of scurvy. There is no evidence that vitamin C, in physiologic or in moderately high doses, causes acute liver injury or jaundice.
History of Ascorbic Acid
Vitamin C was discovered in 1912, and synthesized in 1933, making it the first vitamin to be synthesized. Shortly thereafter Tadeus Reichstein succeeded in synthesizing the vitamin in bulk by what is now called the Reichstein process.This made possible the inexpensive mass-production of vitamin C. In 1934 Hoffmann–La Roche trademarked synthetic vitamin C under the brand name Redoxon and began to market it as a dietary supplement.
Applications of Ascorbic Acid
In bakeries, ascorbic acid is used as an additive which is either added directly to the flour by the miller, or to the dough itself by the bakery.
Absorbic acid is generally used in bread due to its properties that help extend shelf life, high profile industrial bakers such as Hovis and Kingsmill both use ascorbic acid in the majority of their loaves.
Using ascorbic acid in an industrial bakery can contribute to higher profit yields, lower production times and higher buyer satisfaction (longer shelf life, reduced number of damaged loaves during transport.
During the processing of beverages such as fruit juices, fruits are crushed, strained, pulped and filtered. Unfortunately, this intense process destroys a lot of the naturally occurring vitamin C found within the fruits; a key selling point that consumers look for when buying fruit juice.
Manufacturers of fruit juices and other drinks products may use ascorbic acids within their products as a natural additive.
When fruit is exposed to oxygen, the process of oxidation starts, causing browning to the fruit – fruit that becomes brown will have to be discarded or it may be rejected by buyers.
The use of ascorbic acid in these environments slows down this oxidation process. Used as a natural ingredient preservative, ascorbic acid can prevent browning, reduce the risk of mould and other microbial growth and ultimately, preserve the freshness of the product.
Similar to its application in fruit processing, ascorbic acid’s primary use in meat environments is to prevent oxidation. When meat oxidises, it begins to turn brown. Whilst this meat is generally safe to eat, many supermarkets, restaurants, butchers and other establishments that sell meat will not accept it in this condition.
Using ascorbic acid as a preservative delays the oxidation process, keeping the meat looking fresh.
Water treatment plants use chlorine to remove bacteria from water supplies. Whilst this is an effective neutraliser of bacteria and makes water safe to drink, the chlorine solution that is discharged following treatment of the water can disturb aquatic life.
The most popular method of ‘passive’ dechlorination is to leave the water in an open container and wait for the air and sunlight to naturally dissipate the chlorie over time. This method is time consuming and not feasible in a large scale operation.
Ascorbic acid is an effective chemical method for neutralising chlorine that is becoming utilised more and more frequently, being just as effective and much safer than other methods of chemical dechlorination through the use of sulfur-based chemicals. Using ascorbic acid combined with sodium ascorbate for this purpose will make chlorinated water safe enough to release into streams without affecting the environment.
Health and Nutrition
The most common and popular use of vitamin C is through supplements. These supplements often come in powder or tablet form and are used to protect cells, maintain healthy skin and increase recovery time from colds, flu and other similar illnesses.
With people more conscious of their health and solutions more affordable and readily available, the use of vitamin C supplements has increased vastly.
Is ascorbic acid safe?
FDA strictly regulates and monitors food and color additives like ascorbic acid for their safe use. Specifically, FDA states that ascorbic acid is a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) substance for use as a chemical preservative in foods and as a nutrient or dietary supplement.
What is the difference between Vitamin C and ascorbic acid?
Vitamin C and ascorbic acid are chemically identical. The vitamin C that occurs naturally in an orange or lemon is the same molecule as synthetic ascorbic acid developed in laboratory.