Bag of green apples in grocery store

What is malic acid

The mouthwatering tartness associated with green apples and grapes is in large part due to the presence of malic acid. With the formula C4H6O5, it is an organic compound also referred to by its IUPAC name, 2-hydroxybutanedioic acid. It has the assigned CAS Numbers of 617-48-1 and 6915-15-7.

Historically, malic acid has been known to scientists for well over two centuries. Back in 1785, Carl Wilhelm Scheele was the first to isolate the acid from the juice of apples. Two years later, in 1787, Antoine Lavoisier gave it its name — acide malique — derived from malum, the Latin for apple.

Malic acid is responsible for the refreshing taste you get when you bite into certain sour fruits like apples, grapes, and cherries. Its smooth, lasting tartness makes it the perfect food additive. When malic acid food grade ingredients are blended with other acids, sugars, sweeteners, and seasonings, it can result in highly pleasing flavors, allow for extended flavors, and even act as a food acidity regulator.

This ingredient's commercial uses are wide-ranging and occur from the food and beverage industry to personal care products and beyond. As a result, malic acid is one of the most in-demand food additives on the market today. If you are a supplier of food grade ingredients, you need a malic acid distributor like Brenntag North America with a well-established global distribution network and facilities that meet all ISO standards and HACCP food safety regulations.

Alcoholic drink with lime

Buy various grades of malic acid

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Industries in Which Malic Acid Is Commonly Used

Malic acid lends a recognizable tartness to the flavors of the foods and beverages it is added to, which makes it a prized additive in the food and beverage industry, where its uses are so widespread that E296 is malic acid’s own official E number. In addition to flavoring super sour candies — such as Sour Patch, Sweet Tart, and Sour Punch products — malic acid boosts the flavoring, formulation, and aromas of a wide range of other foods and beverages.

Whether it is conferring the tartness of grapes to wines or delivering the distinctive sour taste found in salt and vinegar potato chips, malic acid both improves flavors and extends them. Because it has such a pleasing and smooth taste, it also allows food and beverage manufacturers to use less of other flavors to achieve their intended results.

Cherry gummies

Some of the food and beverage groups that malic acid is added to include hard candies, soft candies, chewing gum, fruit preserves, baked products with fruit fillings, alcoholic ciders and wines, artificially sweetened beverages, and sports drinks. In addition, it is a popular additive in calcium-enriched drinks and acidified products from the dairy group. Along with improving flavor, it also acts to stabilize pH levels.

Beyond the food and beverage industry, malic acid aids in the production of a number of products for personal care. For instance, since its presence naturally increases the flow of saliva in the mouth, it is used in many dental cleaning products, such as toothpastes and mouthwashes. Plus, its ability to bring out strong fruit flavors makes it an ideal additive in many fruit-flavored cough drops, syrups, and lozenges.

In the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, malic acid also offers many benefits as a natural supplement. For skin care, it helps reduce aging by decreasing the skin’s amount of dead cells and boosting its hydration. It can even help combat acne. In addition to its dermatological benefits, malic acid is being studied as a treatment for kidney stones and fibromyalgia.

Finally, the oil and gas industry relies on malic acid as an additive when transporting crude oil from well sites to refineries.

Bottled lotions in a store

Product Listings for Malic acid

We distribute malic acid in various amounts and packages to perfectly suit your needs. You can view our entire food grade ingredients listing online.

Chemical Property Information for Malic Acid

Malic acid is a dicarboxylic acid that is naturally produced by all organisms. As an essential part of the metabolic cycles on a cellular level in plants and animals, malic acid gives energy to cells and provides the carbon skeleton that amino acids can be built on — such as during the glyoxylate and Krebs cycles. Even in the human body, a substantial amount of malic acid is both formed and broken down on a daily basis. While malic acid occurs naturally, a mix of L- and D-malic acid can be synthetically produced. Malic acid’s esters and salts are termed malates.


For professionals ranging from food and beverage scientists to personal care procurement professionals, when the need for malic acid arises, Brenntag can help. With a portfolio of over 10,000 products and an international distribution network that spans 74 countries and 530 locations, we can consistently meet all of your food grade additive needs.

Buy malic acid — and all your food grade ingredients — from Brenntag North America. We are GFSI-certified and committed to food safety and traceability. For high-quality products and well-established distribution, contact us today.