September 26, 2023 3 min read
Vinegar is used in everything from cooking to cleaning. Apple cider vinegar is growing in popularity due to various cleanses and health trends, and white vinegar is a popular stain-free cleaner. It is known for a potent taste, and an even more potent smell. However, does this potency come from it being alkaline or acidic?
To understand what these terms mean, first the pH scale must be explained. The pH scale is a way of assigning various substances a number that relates to its acidity or alkalinity (base). The scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most basic. The human body itself has a pH, which falls close to the neutral pH of 7. The body generally needs to be in the range of 7.35-7.45 to function at its optimal level (1).
If you consume too many acidic or too many alkaline foods and beverages, it is possible to offset your body’s equilibrium, causing health concerns. Therefore, it is important to consume a mixture of acidic and alkaline foods in a healthy diet. For reference, vinegar is extremely acidic, with a pH that ranges between 2-3.
Vinegar is a liquid used in culinary, industrial, and domestic fields due to its acidity. According to researchers at Harvard, vinegar “has been traced back to 5000 B.C.E. in Babylon, not just for cooking but as a medicine, a preservative, and a drink to boost strength and promote wellness” (2). It is the result of a fermentation process that involves water and acetic acid, the acid responsible for vinegar’s low pH (3).
The level of acetic acid varies depending on the type of vinegar, which is inversely related to its pH. The higher the percentage of acetic acid, the lower the pH. For example, “apple cider vinegar contains 5-6% acetic acid, while white vinegar contains 4-7%” (4). An apple cider vinegar containing 5% acetic acid has a higher pH than a white vinegar with 7% acetic acid. In this case, the white vinegar has a lower pH and is more acidic.
Vinegar is not typically a food thought of as “healthy” or “unhealthy;” in fact, many people do not consider it a food on its own. Few studies have been conducted based on vinegar’s health benefits, and many do not hold conclusive results. That being said, connections between vinegar and health have been drawn.
Vinegar itself is low in nutrients, but is also low in calories and sugar free. Many people add it to foods as a healthy dressing. It contains “trace vitamins, mineral salts, amino acids, and polyphenolic compounds” that contribute to its health benefits (2). Traditionally, vinegar had a medicinal purpose for aiding digestion and as an antibacterial.
Because of vinegar’s acidity, it has other uses outside of consumption. Vinegar is a powerful and effective cleaning agent. Dr. Debra Wilson notes that due to vinegar’s acidity, it can dissolve dirt, mineral deposit, grease, and other residue (5). It can be used as an all purpose cleaner and even kills some bacteria. It is recommended to use white vinegar for cleaning.
Whether used for cleaning or consuming, vinegar is an all-around helpful substance to keep in your household. It has a pH that typically ranges from 2-3, so it is very acidic. Consuming vinegar daily or in large quantities may lower the internal pH of your body which can have negative health effects. To offset the acidity, try diluting vinegar in alkaline water, like that made from a Seychelle water pitcher. In doing so, you can still add vinegar to your diet without any negative repercussions.
Is white vinegar acidic or alkaline?
White vinegar typically contains 4-7% acetic acid, which is the acid that makes vinegar acidic, so white vinegar is mildly acidic.
Does drinking apple cider vinegar alkalize the body?
While apple cider vinegar is acidic, it does have alkalizing effects on the body. For more information, read about it here.