Apple Cider Vinegar Vs. White Vinegar: Uses and Basics

March 31, 2019

Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar are popular products in the health world. They’re touted as excellent cleaning tools and boast purported health benefits ranging from weight loss to lower risk of heart disease.

In the alternative medicine world, there are proponents that argue one type of vinegar is better than another. Here, we’ll take a look at different types of vinegar and explain the battle between apple cider vinegar vs. white vinegar. You’ll learn the differences between the two and discover their unique uses.

What Is Vinegar?

There are multiple types of vinegar. They are all processed similarly but derive differences in what they are sourced from. The different types of vinegar include apple cider vinegar (ACV), white vinegar, malt vinegar, coconut vinegar, and cane vinegar. Essentially vinegar can be produced from many different items and results in the creation of acetic acid — similar to but not the same as citric acid — through a fermentation process. It may also contain minor amounts of lactic acid (1).

Malt vinegar is produced by fermenting grains such as wheat, rice, and barley. This type of vinegar is particularly common among the English and used to flavor the classic fish and chips dish. Rice vinegar is also popular in Asian countries. Coconut vinegar is an Asian specialty made by fermenting coconut juice for several weeks. Cane vinegar is another popular option in Asia and the Caribbean and involves fermenting stalks of sugarcane.

Balsamic vinegar is a popular Italian product made from the white grapes of the Trebbiano variety. The dark liquid is further flavored by fermenting the liquid in oak, juniper, and cherry barrels. The most famous varieties are aged for more than 12 years. Red wine vinegar is another European favorite made by fermenting red wine.

The two most common types of vinegar are apple cider vinegar and white vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is wildly popular thanks to a host of purported health benefits. White vinegar, on the other hand, is a staple household cleaning product. Delve deeper into these two poplar vinegars and find out the best uses for each below.

History and Production of Vinegar

Vinegar is produced through a process of fermentation, typically with ethanol or sugars derived from acetic acid bacteria. The fermentation process can take months or years when done in the traditional method. In modern methods, the process can be sped up by adding a mother — a bacterial culture — which increases oxygen to speed up fermentation. In this method, vinegar can be produced in a matter of days.

The word vinegar traces its roots to the French term "vin aigre". The term has a literal translation meaning "sour wine". The acetic acid content of vinegars today ranges anywhere from 5 to 20 percent, resulting in sour blends that are used in everything from salad dressings to cleaning agents.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is a clear vinegar that can have a high acidity level. The high pH level makes this vinegar particularly well-suited for cleaning. Some lower acidity white vinegars can be used for cooking and baking, though higher acidity options may be toxic.

White vinegar is most commonly derived from grain alcohols. In ancient times, the vinegar was made by distilling vegetables such as molasses and beets.

Uses

Cooking

White vinegar may be used in cooking to create salad dressings and marinades. It's also popular when pickling vegetables thanks to its high acid content.

Baking

When paired with baking soda, white vinegar makes a great leavening agent. The acid in white vinegar reacts chemically with the baking soda and produces carbon dioxide as a byproduct. The carbon dioxide then creates air in baked goods, making them softer and lighter.

Household Cleaner

Distilled white vinegar can be used for a host of cleaning purposes. It's commonly mixed with water to create a rinse for floors and countertops. It can also help remove stains from fabrics and household appliances such as coffee pots.

Gardening

White vinegar can help remove calcium and mineral build-up on outdoor clay pots. It's also an effective weed killer and can deter pests including ants. The strong scent can keep animals including rabbits and cats from exploring your shrubs, bulbs, and vegetables. If you have a fruit garden, spraying the trees with white vinegar can keep fruit flies at bay.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermenting apple juice or whole apples. The apples are juiced and then combined with bacteria and yeast to induce fermentation. During the fermentation process, the sugars in the apple are converted to alcohol.

After the initial fermentation, acetic-acid bacteria are added to the mixture to convert it to vinegar. The resulting liquid contains malic acid and acetic acid. It contains trace amounts of carbohydrates and is fat-free and protein-free.

This type of vinegar has many medicinal uses in alternative health care but is not recognized as effective in mainstream medical care. In traditional medicine, the beverage is used to increase weight loss, to lower blood sugar levels, and to reduce high blood pressure.

Uses

Shampoo Rinse

Apple cider vinegar is a popular shampoo rinse for people who use shampoo bars or the no-poo method. The acidic properties of the liquid help to restore hair's pH balance and eliminate built-up hair products such as wax and hair spray. ACV also helps to boost hair's shine.

Digestive Aid

Drinking apple cider vinegar may help to increase acid production in the stomach. It can also stimulate the production of gastric juices including bile. This can help your body break down food more efficiently and streamline digestion.

Toner

Apple cider vinegar contains mild antibacterial properties that make it great for cleaning skin. The acid content helps to eliminate oil and may even out skin tone. Since the vinegar can be acidic, it's best to mix the vinegar with equal parts water when using topically.

Great For Poached Eggs

Making poached eggs can be difficult for novice cooks. Adding a dash of apple cider vinegar before boiling water for poached eggs can help make the process simpler and less messy. The acid in the vinegar reacts with egg whites to make them less runny.

Repels Fleas & Flies

The strong scent of apple cider vinegar helps to deter pests. This vinegar can be used on pets to eliminate fleas. You can also set a container of the vinegar in your kitchen to eliminate fruit flies. Just make sure to change the vinegar out daily.

Using Vinegar

You can use vinegar for hundreds of different things. Whether you prefer the flavor of rice vinegar in culinary dishes or want to use white distilled vinegar to clean, the possibilities are endless.

The battle between white vinegar vs apple cider vinegar is easy to break down. White vinegar is best for making dressings and for use as a cleaning agent. Apple cider vinegar is better known for its health benefits and can be used to clean skin and hair. They are both beneficial in their own ways and deserve a place in your kitchen cabinet.

Sources:

1. https://www.omicsonline.org/proceedings/vinegar-quantification-of-acetic-acid-and-lactic-acid-41099.html

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