What is Succinic Acid (E363)? Uses, Safety, Side Effects

What is Succinic Acid (E363)? Uses, Safety, Side Effects

What is Succinic Acid

Table of Contents

Succinic acid is listed as food additive known as E363 or E-363. This organic acid is a colorless or white crystalline solid. It is a dicarboxylic acid that occurs naturally in many living things like plants and other animals. Succinic acid can also be synthetically produced in laboratories, as well as its many salts, which have various applications. It is also used in cosmetics, medicine, and food processing.

What is succinic acid?

Succinic acid is a dicarboxylic acid, with the chemical formula C4H6O4. It is an important industrial chemical used in the production of polymers, drugs, and as a food additive. Succinic acid can be found in many different types of foods.

Succinic acid is a white solid that dissolves in water to give mildly acidic solutions. It has a pungent odor and is soluble in alcohols and other organic solvents.

Natural Source

Succinic acid is a common organic acid that is used in the production of chemicals, food additives and drugs. It is also present in nature as a component of many organic compounds, including glucose and other sugars, glycerolipids and some amino acids.

Natural sources of succinic acid include:

  • Glucose (dextrose)
  • Aspartic acid
  • Alanine
  • Arginine

How is succinic acid made?

Succinic acid is an organic acid that is produced by fermentation. The most common method of producing succinic acid is through the fermentation of glucose by a bacterium called Clostridium Succiniciproducens. This bacteria has been used in the production of succinic acid since the early 20th century. There are some other methods but they are not as common as chemical synthesis or fermentation.

Chemical Synthesis

Chemical synthesis is one of the most common ways to make succinic acid because it is easy to control and yields high purity products. This process involves reacting ethylene glycol with formaldehyde followed by oxidation using nitric acid. The reaction can be carried out in industrial scale reactors to produce large quantities of succinic acid very quickly and efficiently.

As shown in the flow chart below:


Bio-based Fermentation

The bio-based fermentation process for making succinic acid involves growing bacteria on glucose until enough has been produced for commercial use. This process produces some waste which must be disposed of properly so that it does not harm the environment or people living nearby residents.


Appearance Colourless or white, odourless crystalline powder or granular with a sour taste.
Other names
  • Amber acid
  • Ethylenesuccinic acid
  • 1,4-butanedioic acid
CAS number 110-15-6
Chemical formula C4H6O4
Molecular weight 118.09
Melting point 185.0-190.0 °C





In water: Despite being polar, it is freely soluble in water, with a solubility of 1g/13ml at 25°C.

In organic solvents: It is soluble in ethanol (5.4g/100ml) and glycerol (5.0g/100ml), but not in ether or petroleum ether.


A weak diprotic acid, it undergoes two dissociations and has two PKas, PKa1 4.2 and PKa2 5.6.


In 25°C, the pH value is 3.65 with a 1 mmol/L concentration and 3.12 with a 10 mmol/L concentration.

What is the application of succinic acid?


Succinic acid is used as a food additive, where it is known as E340. It is particularly common in the production of canned fruits and vegetables, where it helps to preserve color. It is also used as a preservative in some products that have a high fat content, such as cheese, butter and chocolate.

It can be used as a raw material to synthesize the following ingredients:

  • Starch Sodium octenyl succinate  (E1450)
  • Starch aluminum Octenyl succinate (E1452)
  • Disodium succinate
  • Vitamin E calcium succinate
  • Ferrous succinate
  • Succinate monoglyceride


Succinic acid is used as a supplement for people who want to lose weight quickly by burning fat instead of carbohydrates for energy usage during exercise. Some researchers have shown that succinic acid can be an effective treatment for fatigue associated with physical activity especially during long distance running events like marathons or triathlons where athletes are required to perform at their peak performance levels for several hours continuously until they reach the finish line. This supplement has been shown to increase endurance performance by helping your body burn fat instead of carbohydrates for energy production during exercise sessions.

Industrial Applications

Succinic acid is used in many branches of the chemical industry (e.g., for production of plastics, detergents and pharmaceuticals). In addition to its use as an industrial intermediate, succinic acid is used by the food industry as a flavoring agent and flavor enhancer (e.g., in potato chips). Succinic acid can be added to foods as a preservative against molds and yeasts. It is also used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics (e.g., soaps).

These are its derivatives.



As a buffering and masking agent, this acid is used in cosmetics and personal care products. According to Roquette, a supplier of biosuccinic acid, this ingredient has antimicrobial properties, acne treatment, antioxidant activity, and many other properties.

What is the health benefits of succinic acid?

Succinic acid is a natural, non-essential amino acid. It is an intermediate in the catabolism of lysine and arginine and is found in plants, animals, and humans.

The most important health benefit of succinic acid is its ability to act as an antioxidant. Succinic acid has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory properties, which may help alleviate symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases.

In addition to acting as an antioxidant, succinic acid can also help increase energy production in cells by activating complex I of the electron transport chain.

Is succinic acid safe to eat?

Succinic acid is a weak organic acid that is found in many foods and in our bodies. It is also used as a food additive to enhance the flavor of meat products, and it can be used as a preservative.

Succinic Acid Safety Information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given succinic acid GRAS status (Generally Recognized As Safe). This means that it has been shown to be safe when eaten at levels up to 5 mg/kg body weight per day. However, there are some concerns about the safety of this additive.

In 2005, scientists at the University of California, Davis reported that rats fed high doses of succinic acid had an increased risk of developing tumors in their kidneys and livers compared to control animals that were not fed any succinic acid.


In food, succinic acid is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and can be used to enhance flavor and to modify pH levels at levels that do not exceed accepted manufacturing practices. Its applications have been approved for condiments and relishes, with a maximum usage rate of 0.084% and 0.0061% for meat products.


A food additive, succinic acid (E363), has been listed in Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 as an authorised additive that falls under the category “Additives other than colours and sweeteners”.

Approved uses

Foods containing E363 with maximum uses between 3000-6000mg/kg include:

  • Flavoured fermented milk
  • Soups and broths
  • Powdered flavoured drinks for home preparation
  • Desserts

UK Food Standards Agency

The item is categorized under “Others”

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

With the code number 363, it is an approved ingredient in Australia and New Zealand.

What is the side effects of succinic acid?

Succinic acid is a type of amino acid, a building block for proteins. It is found in many foods and can be taken as a dietary supplement.

Too much succinic acid may cause:

  • Nausea and vomiting. These symptoms are most likely to occur if you take too much succinic acid by mouth.
  • Drowsiness. This effect can happen if you take succinic acid in large amounts or for a long time.
  • Succinic acid is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large doses during pregnancy or breast-feeding. High doses could cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can be life-threatening if not treated right away.

Is succinic acid soluble in water?

Succinic acid is a carboxylic acid, with the chemical formula C4H6O4. It is a colorless solid, soluble in water, ethanol, diethyl ether and glycerol.

Succinic acid is naturally present in many foods and food products. It is found in milk, cheese, yogurt and meat products. It is also added to processed foods as a flavor enhancer or preservative.

Succinic acid is used in many industries including the production of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, plastics and food additives such as artificial sweeteners.

Is succinic acid organic or inorganic?

Succinic acid is a naturally occurring organic compound that is also used to make many other chemicals. It is found in nature as a component of many foods, including cheese and soy sauce. It can be made by fermenting various types of carbohydrates.

In the industrial production process, succinic acid is produced by adding water to maleic anhydride, which comes from petroleum or coal tar. This process produces carbon dioxide and methane as waste products.

Is succinic acid polar or nonpolar?

The answer to the question “Is succinic acid polar or nonpolar?” is that succinic acid is an amphoteric molecule. This means that it can act as either a base or an acid. The reason for this is because of the presence of an acidic hydrogen on one end and a basic nitrogen on another end.

Succinic acid forms salts with both acids and bases, depending on how you look at it. The succinate ion (which has two carbons attached) forms salts with bases like sodium hydroxide and ammonium hydroxide. These salts are called alkali metal salts, which means they dissolve in water readily and are good electrolytes, meaning they conduct electricity well. On the other hand, when succinic acid loses its proton (H+) and becomes negatively charged (CHCOO–), it forms salts with acids like hydrochloric acid (HCl). These salts are called hydrates, which means they don’t dissolve in water very well at all!

Is succinic acid saturated or unsaturated?

Succinic acid is an organic compound with the formula (CH3)2COCH=CHCO2H. It is a dicarboxylic acid. The conjugate base of succinic acid is called succinate, and the salt of succinate and hydrochloric acid is known as monosodium succinate.

It occurs naturally in plants, animals and microorganisms where it plays an important role in the Krebs cycle to produce energy. In industry it is produced by fermentation of sugars or carbohydrates, followed by purification; or by steam cracking of butane into ethylene and propylene.

Is succinic acid acidic or basic?

Succinic acid is a dicarboxylic acid, which means it has two carboxyl groups. The pKa of succinic acid is 4.0 (at 25°C), so it can be considered a weak acid.

The pKa value of an acid tells us how easily the molecule will dissociate into its ionized form in water—the lower the pKa, the easier it is for an acid to release protons into solution. A strong base is one that completely ionizes in water; a weak base only partially ionizes.

Is succinic acid monoprotic diprotic or triprotic?

The answer to this question is that Succinic acid is monoprotic.

Succinic acid has a carboxyl group, which is a carbon atom linked to an oxygen atom. This oxygen atom can take on an -OH group from water. In this way, it can be said that succinic acid is a diprotic acid because it can lose two protons (H+). However, there is another way to look at this situation: Succinic acid can also lose one proton and gain one hydroxide ion (OH-). This makes it a monoprotic acid because it only loses one proton per molecule of succinic acid.

How much does succinic acid cost?

Succinic acid is a natural chemical that is used in the production of plastic and food products. It is also used as an additive to make cosmetics.

The price of succinic acid depends on what type you are looking at and where it comes from.

Natural Succinic Acid

Natural succinic acid is made from sugar cane or corn starch, which are both renewable resources. It is produced by fermenting the sugar with bacteria. The fermentation process produces lactic acid, which is then converted into succinic acid using heat or enzymes. Natural succinic acid costs about $1 per pound when purchased in bulk quantities but can be as much as $4 per pound for smaller quantities (1 kg).

Synthetic Succinic Acid

Synthetic succinic acid is produced by converting propylene into 1,3-butanediol (1,3-BDO) using high temperature catalysts such as zeolites or silica-alumina (SX/SXO). The 1,3-BDO reacts with carbon monoxide at high temperatures to produce 2-hydroxybutanedioic acid (succinate), which can be further processed into other chemicals like polymers and plastics.

Where to buy succinic acid?

The succinic acid market is a relatively small one, but it’s growing. There are many varieties available online, in specialty shops and in some grocery stores. Succinic acid is a chemical used in making plastics and other products.

Succinic Acid Supplements

The most common way to buy succinic acid is in capsule form. These capsules are sold by weight and come in varying quantities based on the strength of the supplement. They can be taken as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.


Succinic acid is naturally produced by humans with the help of good dietary intake of carbohydrates. Succinic acid works as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage. Animal studies have suggested that succinic acid supplements may have a positive effect on depression and anxiety. With further research, this may prove to be true in humans as well. It’s important to keep in mind that there are no firm recommendations on how much succinic acid you should be getting each day, so people should always be careful when taking supplementation.

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng

Sophia Feng, Marketing Manager of Grade Chemical, specializes in writing food chemical article, custom chemical article, industry chemical blog.

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