Apple Cider Vinegar: a diluted acid
The acidity of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is produced by fermenting apple juice in a two-step process: first the apple is converted into alchol (hard cider) and then, in a second step the alcohol is converted into acetic acid by bacteria.
Acetic Acid as obtained by fermentation is a very diluted acid. Nevertheless it also produced in very large quantities on an industrial scale from natural gas (methane), at a very high concentration (Glacial acetic acid is almost 99.9% pure -and his extremely toxic). Pure Acetic Acid has many applications, the largest of which is the manufacture of Vynil Acetate Monomer of VAM, used in paints and coatings.
Acetic acid is one of many acids produced by biological sources: lactic acid is the result of bacteria fermenting milk sugars, citric acid is produced by plants (and found in fruits such as limes, lemons, oranges), malic acid in found in apples, cherries, peaches, and gallic acid (in many fruits and also in tea leaves.
But, what is an acid?
An acid is a substance that when dissolved in water, dissociates into ions one of which is a H+ ion: a hydrogen atom without its electron, which means only has the hydrogen atom's nucleus which is a proton.
Hydrochloric acid in water dissociates as folows: HCl → H+ + Cl-.
Basic or alklaline substances when dissolved in water form a hydroxyl ion: OH-.
If an acid dissociates completely in water it is known as a strong acid (like hydrochloric acid), if only dissociates partly into its ions it is known as a "weak acid" and the solution contains water, ions, and the acid (this is the case of acetic acid).
Acetic acid (whose correct name is ethanoic acid) has the following formula:
The image shows how it dissociates in water, the hydrogen proton combines with a water molecule to form a hydronium ion.
And what does all this have to do with pH?
pH a measure of acidity or alkalinity
The concept of pH was created by Søresnsen in 1909, it is a measure of the concentration of H+ protons in a solution.
The "p" stands for "Potenz", German for power or concentration and the "H" stands for the hydrogen ion.
The formula used to calculate the pH value is:
pH = -log10[H+]
For alkalis, the concentration of the hydroxyl ion: OH- is used instad of the hydrogen ion.
The formula for weak acids like vinegar's acetic acid is a bit more complicated, but it follows the general concept.
It has a logarithmic scale so one unit on the scale represents a tenfold increase or decrease in acidity.
It has a scale that ranges from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline) and the midpoint value of 7 is that of a neutral solution.
The pH of apple cider vinegar
The pH value of vinegar depends on the concentration of acetic acid in it. As the U.S. government sets a minimum value of 4% acetic acid for vinegars and most vinegars have a 5% concentration, we can estimate a pH value of around 3 for a 5% strength vinegar.
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar with 5.14% acetic acid has a pH of 3.08.
A study ( 1 ) found an average pH of 2.78 for apple cider vinegars.
The table below is based on data from Avanija (2016) ( 2 ):
Minute Maid Lemonade
Apple Cider Vinegar
Gatorade Rain Lime
Mountain Dew Reg.
Dasani Water Regular
In comparison, cola drinks have a pH of around 2.75. So apple cider vinegars are roughly 100 times more acidic than carbonated water with a pH of 5.
Compared to regular tap water (pH range 6.5 - 8.5) apple cider vinegar is 10,000 to 1,000,000 times more acidic (due to the logarithmic scale).
Effects of Vinegar on Body Acidity
We discuss the Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar separately, but we should point out that its acidity increases the risk of dental enamel erosion.
Body Acidity and Alkalinity
Our bodies can only function within a certain pH range, which is slightly alkaline (ph 7.4), the enzymes that catalize our body's biochemical reactions can only work under special pH conditions so any changes in pH are quickly adjusted so that the balance is stable.
This process is known as "homeostasis" fromt the Greek words "homo" = "the same" and "stasis" = "standing still".
So can the acidic pH of vinegar influence your body's overall acid-alkaline balance? No it can't, but the homeostatic forces can cause disruption of some natural processes trying to restore balance if you go overboard with your vinegar ingestion.
A patient reported by Lhotta (1998) ( 3 ) was hospitalized after her health failed. The 28-year-old woman had been drinking for the last six years, just over one cup of apple cider vinegar a day (half a pintay - 250 ml).
The body absorbed the acetate in the intestine and the liver converted it into bicarbonate to be excreted by the kidneys, but these ions (acetate and bicarbonate) circulating in the bloodstream required buffering in order to maintain the homeostasis.
And the buffering consumed calcium which was leached from her bones, provoking osteoporosis
This is an extreme case, and a normal ingestion of a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to dress your salad shouldn't disrupt your body's pH homeostasis.
Ingestion of vinegar will increase blood plasma acidity slightly as your body transports and metabolizes the acetate and excretes the bicarbonate. This will cause your urine to become more acidic as shown by Johnston (2008) ( 4 ):
The study involced individuals with diabetes who were given either commercial vinegar pills, pickles (equivalent to 1 oz. 28g of vinegar) or vinegar (2 oz, 56g). Those consuming the vinegar displayed a "significantly reduced urinary pH" (more acidic) and the study concluded that "chronic VINegar ingestion may influence hepatic function and metabolic pathways...".
Want to know more about our body's pH? Read More at our:
> > How does our body regulate its pH?
The myth behind an alkaline body.
Learn about Apple Cider Vinegar Uses at our:
Apple Cider Vinegar Uses
From weight loss to disinfectant and denture cleaner...
Cite this article:
A. Whittall. ©2018. Apple Cider Vinegar pH level. Patagonia Wellness, 11 Oct. 2018. http://www.patagoniawellness.com/health/apple-cider-vinegar-ph-level.html
Subject: Apple cider vinegar pH level. The pH of apple cider and your body's acid-alkali balance
References and Further Reading
(1) Rei-Chu Chang, Hsiu Chin Lee and Andi Shau-Mei Ou, (2005). Investigation of the Physicochemical Properties of Concentrated Fruit Vinegar, Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, Vol. 13:4, 2005, 348-356
(2) Avanija Reddy et al., (2016). The pH of beverages in the United States. April 2016 Vol 147:4, 255-263 JADA
(3) Lhotta K., Höfle G., Gasser R., Finkenstedt G., (1998). Hypokalemia, Hyperreninemia and Osteoporosis in a Patient Ingesting Large Amounts of Cider Vinegar, Nephron 1998;80:242-243 https://doi.org/10.1159/000045180
(4) Carol S. Johnston, Andrea M. White, Shannon M. Kent, (2008). A Preliminary Evaluation of the Safety and Tolerance of Medicinally Ingested Vinegar in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes, Journal of Medicinal FoodVol. 11, No. 1 24 Mar 2008 https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2007.574