What is Malic Acid (E296)? Benefits, Uses, Safety, Side Effects

What is Malic Acid (E296)? Benefits, Uses, Safety, Side Effects


Table of Contents

Malic Acid, or E296 is a natural organic acid also known as alpha hydroxy acid. It’s extracted from various fruits such as apples and grapes. With the pH level of 3-4, malic acid has been used as an additive to many products such as beverages and cosmetic products. However, most people are unaware about its other benefits. The following article introduces what malic acid is and its uses, safety and side effects.

What is malic acid?

Malic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. In cosmetics and personal care products, it is used to exfoliate the skin and improve its texture and tone.

Malic acid is also found in many foods, including apples, grapes, plums, blackberries, pears, cranberries and strawberries. As a food additive, it helps preserve freshness, add flavor and prevent spoilage.

  • Natural Sources
  • L, D, and DL malic acid manufacturing processes

What are the Natural Sources?

Malic acid is a natural organic acid that occurs widely in nature. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, especially apples.

Malic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), meaning that it has an acidic group attached to the carbon atom at the end of a hydrocarbon chain. AHA’s are important in human nutrition because they help maintain skin health by increasing cellular turnover and exfoliation of dead skin cells. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with acne, eczema, rosacea and other inflammatory skin conditions.

In addition to its uses in skincare products, malic acid is used as a food additive to enhance flavor and prevent discoloration of light-colored foods such as baked goods, fruit juices and jams.

How is malic acid made?

Malic acid is an organic compound with the chemical formula HCOOH. It is a dicarboxylic acid, with an asymmetric carbon atom. It can exist in either of two optical isomers, known as L-malic acid and D-malic acid. The naturally occurring form of this compound is D-malic acid and it is present in apples and other fruits.

1. L-Malic Acid

L-malic acid (L-α-hydroxybutanedioic acid) has been used in the production of soft drinks since 1883 when it replaced citric acid as a preservative. It can be synthesized by fermentation of glucose or sucrose with a strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria under aerobic conditions at 25°C.

2. DL-Malic Acid

The method used to produce dl-malic acid begins with the extraction from natural sources (such as apple pomace). The extract is then purified to remove any impurities before it can be converted into its dl form by catalytic hydrogenation. Finally, the product is dissolved in water and freeze-dried to produce a free flowing powder form. The resulting product contains up to 99% dl-malic acid by weight.

3. D-Malic Acid

D-malic acid is produced through fermentation of glucose, which occurs naturally in fruits such as apples or grapes. This process involves creating an environment that encourages microbial growth by adding nutrients like nitrogen compounds (NH3) or carbon dioxide (CO2).


Other Names
  • Apple acid
  • Pomalous acid
  • Hydroxybutanedioic acid
  • 2-Hydroxysuccinic acid
  • 1-hydroxy-1, 2-ethanedicarboxylic acid
CAS Number
  • 6915-15-7 or 97-67-6 (L-form)
  • 636-61-3 (D-form)
  • 617-48-1(DL-form)
Chemical formula  
Molecular Weight  
Melting Point
  • 130 °C (DL-form)
  • 100 °C (L-form)






Contains a tart, acidic, lingering taste and is white or nearly white crystalline powder or granular in color.



As a weak organic acid with two carboxylic acid functional groups, it has two PKa values, PKa1 = 3.4 and PKa2 = 5.2.



Due to its two acidic hydrogens, it would have two dissociation equilibrium equations.

How do you calculate its PH value?

Step 1: Write the equation for the charge balance

[H+] = [HA-] + 2[A2-] + [OH-]

We can then get the equation below.


[H+] is the hydronium concentration

[HA−] and [A2−] are the concentrations of conjugate bases

[HA] is the concentration of malic acid

Step 2: Concentration of hydronium should be estimated

Malic acid concentration is multiplied by Ka1

(c*Ka1)^0.5= 10^-2.2. Therefore, we [OH-] can be neglected, along with Ka1*Ka2 in above equation.

Then we obtain


Finally, we can calculate the [H+] and the PH value of 2.21.

Based on the concentration of 100 mM (0.1mol/L), the PH value of the compound is 2.21.


In water

It is highly soluble in water and dissolves rapidly with increasing temperature. DL-malic acid is soluble in water when heated to 20°C with a solubility of 55.8g/100g, whereas L-malic acid has a solubility of 36.3g/100g.

In organic solvents

Polar solvents are more solubilized than non-polar solvents. It is soluble in methanol, diethyl ether, acetone, and ethanol. It is slightly soluble in ether. It is insoluble in benzene.

How does malic acid benefit your health?

Aside from preventing urinary stones, malic acid may relieve fibromyalgia, improve dry mouth and improve our skin.

Urinary Stones Prevention

A study from 2016 found that malic acid can prevent urinary stones for a relatively low cost.

Fibromyalgia Relief

In 1995, researchers found that high levels of malic acid may be beneficial for treating fibromyalgia patients.

According to a study published in Medwave in 2019, magnesium and malic acid do not significantly improve pain or depression symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia.

Dry Mouth Sensation Improvement

Malic acid improves oral health-related quality of life and dry mouth sensation in patients with xerostomia, according to a study published in the Journal of Oral Science in 2018.

Skin Benefits

It acts as an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) in skincare products. The following are some of the benefits of alpha-hydroxy acid for the skin:

  • Ensure that the stratum corneum is humid.
  • By exfoliating the stratum corneum, the stratum corneum becomes thinner, softer, and smoother.
  • Enhance the firmness and thickness of the epidermis and dermis, and improve skin smoothness and wrinkle reduction.

What’re the application of malic acid?

Malic acid is an organic compound that is naturally present in most fruits and vegetables. It’s also a key ingredient in many food additives, including aspartame and sodium acid pyrophosphate.

Malic acid has a number of uses, from adding flavor to foods to acting as an acidulant in cosmetics. Here are some of the most common uses of malic acid:


Flavoring agent

Malic acid is widely used in foods as a flavoring agent. It’s often added to fruit-flavored drinks and soft drinks because it gives them a tangy taste. It’s also used as an acidulant in baking powders and other baking ingredients because it helps them react with other chemicals at room temperature to produce carbon dioxide gas (CO2). This causes baked goods to rise during cooking without the need for yeast or baking soda.

It is also commonly added to food for PH adjustment and it can inhibit the growth of some bacteria for preservation.

It has the following advantages over other organic acids when used in food:

  • A high degree of solubility and rapid dissolution
  • Acids with lower hygroscopicity than citric or tartaric acids
  • Having a lower melting point than other acids
  • At low pH levels, there is more sourness

The following foods are commonly served with it:

  • Drinks: soda and beer
  • Confectionery with reduced energy or no added sugar
  • Fruits and vegetables canned or bottled
  • Jams, jellies and marmalades
  • Table-top sweeteners


Malic acid is often added to cosmetic products such as shampoos, conditioners and lotions because it helps keep these items from becoming sticky or thick when they’re stored at high temperatures or exposed to sunlight over long periods of time (i.e., when they’re being shipped across the country).

Is malic acid safe to eat?

Malic acid is a natural acid found in many foods, including apples, grapes, and tomatoes. It’s also found in some supplements, including vitamin C.

Malic acid is used to make malted barley drinks like beer and cider. Malic acid is also used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods.

Foods that contain malic acid are safe for most people when eaten in normal amounts. However, high doses of malic acid may cause side effects such as diarrhea and vomiting if taken for long periods of time.


The FDA has approved the use of L and DL malic acids in food, except for baby food, at levels not exceeding good manufacturing practices.

It is generally considered safe (GRAS) and can be used in food as a flavor enhancer, flavoring agent and adjuvant, as well as a pH control agent.

FDA has approved the following uses and maximum levels:

Nonalcoholic beverages 3.4%
Chewing gum 3.0%
Gelatins, puddings, and fillings 0.8%
Hard candy 6.9%
Soft candy 3.0%
Jams and jellies 2.6%
Processed fruits and fruit juices 3.5%
All other food categories 0.7%



Based on the Commission Regulation (EU) No 1152/2013 of 19 November 2013 amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Union list of food additives, malic acid (E296) and its salts sodium malate (E350), potassium malate (E351), and calcium malate (E352) are approved food additives in the European Union (EU) for use in a number of foods.


According to the EU, it belongs to the category of “additives other than colors and sweeteners” and its maximum level is quantum satis, which means there is no specific limit on how much it can be used. There are a number of permitted uses for food categories, including:

  • Dairy products and analogues
  • Fats, oils, fat and oil emulsions
  • Edible ices
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Confectionery
  • Cereals and cereal products
  • Bakery wares
  • Meat
  • Fish and fisheries products
  • Eggs and egg products
  • Sugars and syrups and honey and table-top sweeteners
  • Salts, spices, soups, sauces, salad dressings, and protein products
  • Foods with a particular nutritional purpose
  • Beverages
  • Ready-to-eat savouries and snacks
  • Desserts
  • In addition to food supplements, infants and young children should not be given food supplements
  • Foods that are processed but do not include foods for infants and young children

According to EFSA, there are two conditions to be met:

  1. Processed cereal-based foods and baby foods can only use the L(+)-form for pH adjustment.
  2. In contrast to other fruit juices, malic acid can only be added to pineapple juice with a maximum level of 3000 mg/kg.

UK Food Standards Agency

In the “Others” category

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand have approved this ingredient with code number 296.


DL-Malic Acid

Functional class: flavouring agent and acidity regulator.

Permissible daily intake: ADI “Not Specific” set in 1969, including its sodium, potassium and calcium salts; in the case of D(-)-malic acid and its salts, the ADI is not applicable to very young infants.

L-Malic Acid

Functional class: flavouring agent.

Permissible daily intake: When used as a flavouring agent, there is no safety concern at current levels of intake.

What’re the possible side effects of malic acid?

Consumers sometimes wonder if malic acid is harmful to their health and what the possible risks are. Consumers prefer natural food additives and are concerned about synthetic ingredients in food.

The substance is generally considered safe, but some people may be allergic to it or sensitive to it.


People who are allergic to it may experience allergy symptoms such as headaches, diarrhea, nausea, and other symptoms.

Pregnant and Breastfeeding

It is generally safe to use, but you should consult your doctor before doing so.

How to dissolve malic acid?

Malic acid is a weak acid that dissolves in water. It is found in fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, cranberries and tomatoes. It can also be manufactured from these fruits and vegetables. Malic acid is used in food products to add tartness to them.

When it comes to dissolving malic acid, there are two methods that you can use. The first one involves using heat while the second one does not require any heat at all.

Here are the steps on how to dissolve malic acid:

Place a small amount of malic acid crystals in a glass container or beaker and add water until it completely covers the crystals. Stir well until all crystals have dissolved completely.

What is malic acid soluble in?

Malic acid is an organic compound that is involved in many biochemical processes. It is a dicarboxylic acid, and it has two carboxyl groups. These groups form the ionized form of malic acid, which is called malate. Malate is a key intermediate in the Krebs cycle, where it is broken down to generate energy. Malic acid can also be found in fruits like apples and grapes.

Malic acid soluble in:

  1. Water
  2. Ethanol

Does malic acid expire?

Malic acid is an organic compound that is used as a food additive to provide tartness and sourness to foods. It is also used in the making of some wines, especially those with high acidity levels. Malic acid is found naturally in many fruits, including apples, pears, cherries, and apricots.

The shelf life of malic acid depends on its packaging and storage conditions. For example, if it is stored at room temperature or higher temperatures for long periods of time, then it loses its potency over time. The expiration date of malic acid depends on how it was packaged and stored.

Malic Acid Shelf Life

Malic acid can be stored at room temperature for up to two years if unopened, but once opened it should be used within six months to one year. When stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container away from direct sunlight or heat sources, it can last for two years or longer depending on its quality.

Is malic acid an Element compound or mixture?

Malic acid is a dicarboxylic acid and an alpha-hydroxy acid. It occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, most notably apples, pears, grapes, and tomatoes. Malic acid is also found in wine where it contributes to the taste of the fruitiness.

In addition to being used as a flavoring agent in food products, malic acid is also used as a dietary supplement for its purported health benefits.

Malic Acid is a compound but not a mixture

Malic acid does not have any elements but only carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms are present in it which makes it a compound.

Is malic acid Ionic or covalent?

Malic acid is a dicarboxylic acid that is found in many fruits, most notably apples. It has a molecular formula of C4H6O5 and a molecular weight of 170.12 g/mol.

Malic acid is an ionic compound, which means it dissociates into ions when dissolved in water. It dissociates completely into H+, OH- and the conjugate base of malate (M2+). The chemical formula for malic acid is C4H6O5 – meaning that one molecule of malic acid contains four carbon atoms, six hydrogen atoms and five oxygen atoms.

Is malic acid monoprotic or diprotic?

Malic acid is a diprotic weak acid. This means that it dissociates into two separate ions, the hydrogen ion (H+) and the malate ion (COO-).

The process of dissociation can be represented as:

Malic Acid + Water => H+ + COO-

How much does malic acid cost?

Malic acid can be purchased from many different chemical suppliers. The price for malic acid varies depending on the quantity purchased, but it is generally sold in 1 kg or 2 kg quantities. The price can range from $10 to $20 per kilogram of malic acid.

The cost of malic acid depends on the number of grams you need. For example, if you need 100 grams of malic acid then the cost will be much less than if you need 10 kilograms or more.

For example, a one kilogram bottle of food grade malic acid costs $11 at Amazon while a two kilogram bottle costs $18 at Amazon.

Where to buy aalic acid?

Malic acid is a chemical compound that is an organic acid. It is found in many plants, including apples, peaches and cranberries. Malic acid is used in a variety of industries including the cosmetic industry. It can be used to make products like body lotions, soaps, toothpaste and even foods such as candy and dried fruit.

Malic acid can be purchased through many different sources. The most common place to buy malic acid is at your local grocery store or pharmacy. However, if you are looking for a larger amount than what can be found in these stores then it will be more beneficial to buy it online from an online retailer such as Amazon or eBay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Natural?

Malic acid is a natural food acid that occurs in many fruits, especially apples and pears. As a food additive, malic acid is used to balance the flavors of tart foods, such as baking powders and salad dressings. It also acts as an antioxidant.

Malic acid is safe for most people when consumed in small amounts. Some people experience mild side effects such as gastrointestinal upset after taking malic acid supplements or eating high-malic acid foods.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved malic acid for use as a food additive.

Is it Vegan?

Yes, malic acid is vegan because it’s naturally-occurring and not derived from animals or animal products.

Is it Halal?

Malic acid is a natural fruit acid found in apples, cherries and other fruits. It is also used as a food additive and preservative. Malic acid is produced commercially by fermentation of glucose with fungi or bacteria.

Malic acid is Halal because it is obtained from plants. The Muslim consumer should not consume it if it contains pork products like gelatin or glycerin.

Is it Kosher?

Malic acid is a natural organic acid. It is found in many fruits, vegetables and wine. In the food industry, malic acid is used as a flavor enhancer and to increase acidity. Malic acid can be found in chewing gum, candy, baked goods and frozen desserts.

Malic acid is made from apples but it can also be synthesized from glucose or sucrose (sugar).

Malic acid is kosher certified and pareve.

Is it Gluten Free?

Malic acid is a natural organic compound found in many plants and vegetables, especially apples. It’s often used as a food additive to enhance flavor.

Malic acid is not always gluten-free. It’s most commonly derived from fruit juice and may contain wheat. If you’re on the gluten-free diet, check with the manufacturer before you buy it. Some manufacturers use wheat as an ingredient in their products, so make sure to check the label before buying it.

If you want to avoid malic acid altogether, look for lactic acid instead. Lactic acid occurs naturally in milk products such as yogurt and cheese, but it also comes from some fruits like peaches and plums.

Malic Acid Content in Apple Juice?

The main acid in apples is malic acid, which gives them their sour taste. Malic acid also helps apples retain their color and helps prevent browning after you slice them.

In order to determine how much malic acid is in apple juice, you need to know the concentration of the juice and then apply a formula called molarity (M). Molarity is a measure of concentration, so it tells you how many moles of solute are dissolved in one liter of solution. The more moles per liter, the higher the concentration of that substance; for example, 1 mole/liter is equivalent to a 1-molar solution.

Apple juice has approximately 0.086 grams of malic acid per 100 grams of apple juice (0.0086 g/100 g). You can calculate this by multiplying 100 by 0.0086: 100 x 0.0086 = 0.086 g/100 g or 806 mg/100 g (1 mole/100 g). So if you have 12 ounces of apple juice, there are about 9 mg malic acid per ounce (0.09 g).

Why is Malic Acid not Allowed in Baby Food by the FDA?

Malic acid is a natural acid found in fruits and vegetables. It can also be produced synthetically. Malic acid is often used as a food additive or supplement to enhance the flavor of food and to improve the nutritional value of foods.

Malic acid has been used for many years in baby foods. However, there are concerns about its safety. The FDA has issued warnings regarding the use of malic acid in baby foods, but it hasn’t banned its use entirely.

Malic acid is commonly used in some brands of boxed baby formula as an ingredient to increase vitamin C content. It also helps prevent spoilage by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms such as mold spores and yeast cells during manufacturing and storage.

In addition, malic acid may be added to infant formulas because it’s believed to help fight infections caused by bacteria and viruses. In fact, malic acid is sometimes added to infant formulas that contain iron because it helps increase absorption of iron from plant sources.

What’s its Role in Wine?

Malic acid is a natural acid found in fruits such as apples, strawberries and grapes. It is also present in wine made from these fruits. Malic acid is responsible for the sour taste of the fruit and wine, but it can also contribute to the structure and balance of the final product.

Malic Acid Contributes to Structure

In addition to adding flavor and tartness, malic acid contributes to the overall structure of wine. The acid breaks down tannins over time, which helps soften them into more palatable compounds. This process also releases other aromas that must be balanced with other acids such as citric or tartaric acid.

Malic Acid Affects Aroma

The amount of malic acid present in wine will affect its aroma profile significantly. A high concentration of this chemical makes a wine smell like apples or strawberries while lower concentrations allow more floral notes to emerge.


Malic acid is a naturally occurring fruit acid that has many potential uses in food production, as well as nutritional benefits for in animals. Some uses include benefits for meats, cheeses and fruits, but there are some added precautions to be aware of before using it in foods. Overall malic acid is safe to consume and has relatively few reported side effects, however the FDA requires all manufacturers to label the compound with a warning regarding those with diabetes. As confirmation of malic acid’s safety continues to grow, more applications are sure to follow.

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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