What is the difference between citric acid and lactic acid?

29 July 2021
What is the difference between citric acid and lactic acid?

What is the difference between the Eccellente decalcifier citric acid (red label) and the Eccellente decalcifier lactic acid (green label)?

Both lactic acid and citric acid are biological descaling (decalcifying) agents that are very suitable for descaling a coffee machine or other equipment. They are not aggressive descalers which only take off the lime scale and do not have any harmful effects on the machines. Both can therefore be used without any worry and the machine will work better, let the coffee taste better and extend the lifespan of the machine! 


Why do some manufacturers then recommend lactic acid while others recommend citric acid?

Previously nearly all manufacturers advised a descaling agent based on citric acid. The reason for this is simple: it dissolves the lime better and therefore less active ingredients are required for a bottle of descaler. In addition, the raw materials for citric acid are cheaper to buy. So we think it mainly was the choice of our suppliers who could deliver this product cheaper than lactic acid. Nowadays, manufacturers are moving from citric acid to lactic acid. The reason being the sheer fact that they first recommended citric acid and now lactic acid for the same machines now indicates that it does not matter very much in essence. 


What do you recommend I use now?

I would suggest you to still continue to follow the advice of the manufacturer. Delonghi Nespresso, Philips, Saeco, Gaggia, is best descaled with the Eccellente lactic acid descaler (green label). All other brands (such as Siemens, Bosch, Melitta, Krups, WMF, Miele, Severin), are best descaled with the Eccellente citric acid descaler (red label)

Can you tell me anything more?

Please do so! Here is a table to clarify the differences:

  Eccellente citric acid (red label) Eccellente lactic acid (green label)
Odour odourless odourless 
Discarding of lime +++++ ++++
Hot descaling Yes Yes
Cold descaling Yes (e.g. for the kettle) No
Price 2.50 2.95
Blending ratio 1:7 1:7
Brands Siemens, Bosch, Melitta, WMF, 
Bravilor, Neff, Gaggenau, Princess,
Tassimo, Severin, Miele, Krups, Francis Francis.
Philips, Saeco, Delonghi, Nespresso, Gaggia,
Senseo Sarista, Senseo.   


Want to make it more complicated?

Ok, here are the formulas:

The reaction of lactic acid and lime:

The reaction of citric acid and lime: