What is Potassium Citrate (E332) in food? Uses, Safe

What is Potassium Citrate (E332) in food? Uses, Safe


Table of Contents

Potassium citrate is a salt that naturally occurs in foods such as fruits, vegetables and potatoes. It has been used to treat many medical conditions including kidney stones, gallstones and gout. However, it doesn’t just help with kidney or gallstones. It is also used for certain medical conditions such as hyperkalemia (high potassium levels in the blood) and metabolic syndrome.

What is Potassium Citrate?


Potassium citrate is a chemical compound with the formula KCit. It is a salt of potassium and citric acid. Potassium citrate can be prepared by neutralizing potassium hydroxide with an acid solution containing citric acid in water. A related salt is potassium hydrogen citrate, KHCit.

Potassium citrate is used as an electrolyte replenisher for hypokalemia (low blood levels of potassium). It also can be used to reduce the risk of kidney stones (calculi) by increasing urinary citrate excretion, which inhibits calcium oxalate crystallization. This action occurs because the citrate ion forms complexes with calcium and magnesium ions in urine, thereby decreasing their concentration and hence inhibiting stone formation. The Food and Drug Administration approved potassium citrate as a treatment for hyperkalemia in 2001,although some sources dispute this use.

Potassium citrate may also be used to treat or prevent metabolic acidosis.

Three Types of Potassium Citrate


Potassium citrate is a salt that’s commonly used to treat high blood potassium levels. It’s also used as a stool softener and to prevent kidney stones. Potassium citrate comes in three forms: monopotassium citrate, tripotassium citrate and potassium bicarbonate.

Monopotassium citrate


Monopotassium citrate is a white powder that dissolves easily in water or other liquids. It’s more soluble than tripotassium citrate, which means it dissolves more rapidly in the stomach. Monopotassium citrate is available as tablets, capsules and liquid suspensions for oral use. The recommended dosage for adults is 100 milligrams (mg) two or three times daily before meals to prevent kidney stones from forming and to reduce the risk of high blood potassium levels caused by certain medications.

Chemical formula C6H7O7K
Molecular weight 230.21
CAS number 866-84-2
E number E332(i)
PH 3.5 to 3.8 (1 % aqueous solution)

Tripotassium citrate


Tripotassium citrate contains three molecules of potassium bound together with one molecule of sodium chloride (salt) molecule for every two molecules of potassium citrate. This type of potassium salt has been shown to be effective at lowering blood pressure levels when taken orally in combination with other agents such as hydrochlorothiazide.

Appearance White, hygroscopic, granular or powder, with a slightly sour taste.
Solubility Very soluble in water, insoluble in ethanol
Chemical formula C6H5O7K3·H2O
Molecular weight 324.42
CAS number 6100-05-6
E number E332(ii)
PH 7.5 to 9.0 (5 % aqueous solution)

Potassium bicarbonate


Potassium bicarbonate (also known as baking soda) is made by combining potassium carbonate ore with water and heating the mixture. The resulting (sodium bicarbonate) salt is then neutralized by sodium hydroxide solution to form a sodium-bicarbonate salt, which can be dissolved in water or alcohol to make an alkaline solution containing potassium ions. Potassium bicarbonate is a common salt that is used as a buffer in baking. It also has many other uses, including as an antacid and in soap making.

How is Potassium Citrate made?


Potassium citrate is an alkaline salt used in the treatment of acidosis and kidney stones. It is also used as an electrolyte replenisher in intravenous solutions.

Potassium citrate can be made by reacting acetic acid with potassium hydroxide.

There are three steps involved to make potassium citrate:

  1. The first step is to add a solution of sodium hydroxide and water to a solution of acetic acid. Sodium acetate (NaC2H3O2) will be formed when sodium hydroxide reacts with acetic acid.
  2. The next step involves adding potassium hydroxide to the solution of sodium acetate that was formed in Step 1, which will result in the formation of potassium acetate (KC2H3O2). This reaction produces heat that must be taken into account when mixing these chemicals together.
  3. The final step involves mixing the potassium acetate produced in Step 2 with calcium oxide (CaO) or calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2). The addition of calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide will produce insoluble calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which can then be filtered out by vacuum filtration.

What is the application of Potassium Citrate?


Potassium citrate is an alkali salt of citric acid and potassium. It is used as an acidity regulator, a mineral supplement, and a food preservative.



In the food and beverage industry, its main function is as follows:

Flavoring agent


Potassium citrate provides a balanced tart taste and lowers the acidity of food and carbonated soft drinks. It does not add bitterness like other salts do. Additionally, it can mask the metallic taste of artificial sweeteners in diet sodas.

Buffering agent


Potassium citrate is often used as a buffer agent in brewing beer to maintain the pH value of the beer at 4~5 after fermentation. The higher the pH value of beer, the better it tastes. In addition, potassium citrate can also be used for other purposes such as preventing bacterial growth and spoiling products; improving product stability; adjusting acidity; preventing protein precipitation; reducing bitterness; increasing volume etc..



Potassium citrate can also be used as an emulsifier in food production because potassium ions are able to bind with oil droplets and form stable emulsions that do not separate easily under high pressure conditions. For example, it can be used as an emulsifier in mayonnaise or salad dressing products



Potassium citrate also has preservative functions and has been widely used in Chinese-style pickles, soy sauce and other fermented foods.

Sodium citrate replacement


It can be used to formulate low-sodium or sodium-free foods. Reducing sodium intake lowers blood pressure. Meanwhile, the more potassium one consumes, the more sodium one is able to excrete in urine.

Potassium supplement


It is a mineral substance that provides potassium ions as a nutritional source.



Potassium citrate is used to make sparkling water by reacting with carbon dioxide under pressure, which creates bubbles that look like champagne bubbles when poured into a glass of water.

Potassium citrate is a colorless crystal or white powder. It is soluble in water and slightly soluble in alcohol. It can be used as a food additive to improve the flavor of food and beverage, as well as to adjust the acidity of beverages, such as soft drinks, beer and mineral water.

Kidney stones


Due to its non-toxicity, low price, and long-term use, potassium salts is widely used to treat calcium oxalate stones, uric acid (which will also cause gout), and cystine stones.

Types of Kidney stones


Kidney stones are solid concretions of crystals that develop in the kidneys (nephrolithiasis). An atom can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. The stones may pass through the urinary tract without complications; however, they can also become lodged in the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra.

Large kidney stones may obstruct the flow of urine and cause severe pain. If they remain untreated, they can cause permanent damage to the kidneys.

The type of kidney stone is generally determined by its composition and shape. The composition of a kidney stone depends on its source (e.g., calcium oxalate or uric acid). There are three main types of kidney stones: calcium oxalate (50%), struvite (20%), and uric acid (20%). The remaining 10% is made up of cystine and other less common types of stones. Common types include:

  • Calcium oxalate — About 75 percent of all kidney stones are composed of calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate stones occur when there is an imbalance between how much calcium and oxalate are absorbed from food in the intestines.
  • Uric acid — Uric acid stones form when there is too much uric acid in the urine, which results from an overproduction of uric acid or from underproduction by the liver.
  • Cystine — Cystine stones are rare but may occur due to an inherited condition called cy.

How does potassium citrate work?


Potassium citrate is a supplement that helps prevent kidney stones. It works by increasing the amount of potassium in your urine, which can reduce the risk of forming a new stone.

Urine is normally supersaturated with calcium oxalate and uric acid, which are the main components of kidney stones. This means that these substances are dissolved in the urine at a concentration higher than they would be in pure water. The supersaturation results from an imbalance between the amount of dissolved calcium oxalate and uric acid, and their rate of crystallization. Once crystals have formed, they have an advantage over other crystals because they can grow larger without dissolving again. They can also grow faster than other crystals because they are already partially formed and have less surface area to cover with each new crystal. As a result, crystals begin to grow spontaneously until they reach a critical size where they become stable enough to survive longer without dissolving again.

Potassium citrate works by increasing the concentration of dissolved potassium ions in your body fluids. Potassium ions bind very tightly with calcium ions; for every two potassium ions there must be two calcium ions present before another molecule of calcium can bind with them (source: Wikipedia).

Difference between potassium citrate, potassium chloride, and potassium gluconate


Potassium is a mineral that is essential for the functioning of cells, tissues and organs. Potassium helps to regulate the body’s water balance and pressure, it helps with muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmission. Potassium citrate, potassium chloride, and potassium gluconate are three compounds that contain the element potassium. All three of these salts are classified as potassium salts, which are salts that contain potassium ions.

Comparing Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, and Potassium Gluconate:

  • Potassium citrate is used to treat hyperkalemia (high levels of potassium in the blood). It works by binding to excess potassium in your body and allowing it to be excreted in your urine.
  • Potassium chloride is used to treat hypokalemia (low levels of potassium in the blood). It works by binding to excess sodium in your body and allowing it to be excreted through urination.
  • Potassium gluconate can be used for both purposes: treating hyperkalemia or hypokalemia.



Hypokalemia is a medical condition in which the potassium level in the blood is lower than normal. Potassium is an important mineral that plays a role in many different body functions, including heart function and muscle contraction.

Potassium levels are typically measured as part of a chemistry panel or electrolyte panel, which measures sodium and potassium levels along with other electrolytes such as chloride and bicarbonate.

Hypokalemia can occur when your body loses more potassium than it takes in or when your kidneys are unable to retain enough potassium. In both cases, hypokalemia can lead to serious health complications if left untreated.

Causes of Hypokalemia

There are several causes of hypokalemia, including:

  • Increased loss of potassium through urine (such as with severe diarrhea)
  • Reduced intake of foods high in potassium (such as fruits and vegetables)
  • Excessive sweating or vomiting
  • Diuretics used to treat high blood pressure (e.g., furosemide) or heart failure (e.g., spironolactone) can also cause hypokalemia by removing too much fluid from the body through increased urination.

Is it safe to eat potassium citrate?


Yes, Potassium citrate can be safely taken in doses up to 9 grams daily for up to 6 months. However, it’s not recommended for people who are taking certain medications or have certain medical conditions.

Potassium citrate, which is a salt of citric acid and potassium, is used medically to treat kidney stones. It’s also used as a supplement to help lower blood pressure.

Potassium Citrate Benefits

Potassium citrate is usually taken in capsule form, but it can also be found in powder form. It has several benefits that make it popular among athletes and those with high blood pressure or kidney problems:

  • Helps reduce muscle cramps during exercise
  • Improves athletic performance by increasing oxygen uptake in the muscles
  • Reduces calcium buildup in the kidneys (which can lead to kidney stones)



When used in food, potassium citrate monohydrate is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as long as current acceptable manufacturing practices are followed.

The following products can be made with it:

  • Cheese products and related products
  • Jellies, jams, and preserves made from artificial sweet fruits



As a food additive, monopotassium citrate E332(i) and tripotassium citrate E332(ii) are listed in Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 as additives other than colours and sweeteners.

Approved uses

It is classified into “Group I” with the maximum usage level “quantum satis” and also listed separately. Foods that contain it include:
  • UHT goat milk and dehydrated milk.
  • Caseinates are edible.
  • Cheese
  • Frozen fruit and vegetables
  • Cans or bottles of fruit and vegetables
  • Jellies, jams, and marmalades
  • Meat preparations, unprocessed fish
  • Tabletop sweeteners consisting of liquids, powders, or tablets
  • Infant formulae
  • Processed cereal-based foods and baby foods



Tripotassium citrate

Functional class: food additives, acidity regulators, sequestrants, stabilizers.

Allowable daily intake: ADI “not limited” set in 1973.

Monopotassium citrate

Functional Class: food additives, acidity regulator, sequestrant, yeast food.

Allowable daily intake: ADI “not limited” set in 1979.



Citrates are chemical compounds that is found in plants, animal and humans. People also get citrate from their diet. The harmful crystal is removed by citrates that neutralize the protein cysteine, which bind calcium and make the crystals larger for excretion out of body. If a person does not have sufficient amount of potassium citrate, it can be fatal for them to get this kind of treatment to treat kidney stones because his blood level will drop rapidly.

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng is the author of gradechemical.com, she is the co-founder of the grade chemical network. She has been in grade chemical company since 2017, with a working knowledge of food chemical .

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