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Difference Between White and Distilled vinegar

Difference Between White and Distilled vinegar

White vs. Distilled Vinegar

Try to look for vinegar at a local market and you will be surprised by just how many kinds you find. There is a staggering 21 kinds of vinegar available commercially. This number does not include the countless homemade types. But out of this vast range, distilled vinegar and white vinegar prove to be 2 of the most widely used. Sure, they’re both acidic, but in what ways do they differ from one another?

Most people agree that the basic difference is the level of purity. Simply put, distilled vinegar has been purified more than white vinegar. Furthermore, there are some dissimilarities when it comes to chemical structure, production, and usage.

White vinegar is sometimes also referred to as spirit vinegar. Contrary to its name, white vinegar is actually clear. It is usually produced from sugar cane, the extract of which is put through acid fermentation. In the process, the liquid is oxidized, causing the chemicals in it to change and become more acidic. Another way of making white vinegar is to combine acetic acid with water. This variation is much sourer than the naturally fermented type; it has 5% to 20% acetic acid content and is considered stronger than any of the other types.

Distilled vinegar, also known as virgin vinegar, can be made from just about any vinegar – for instance: rice, malt, wine, fruit, balsamic, apple cider, kiwifruit, rice, coconut, palm, cane, raisin, date, beer, honey, kombucha, and much more. As its name suggests, this vinegar is distilled from ethanol. ‘Distilled’ plainly means that the liquid component is separated from the base mixture. This produces a colorless solution with 5-8% acetic acid in the water – relatively weaker than white or spirit vinegar.

Both white and distilled vinegar are used not only for cooking, but also for cleaning, baking, meat preservation, pickling, and sometimes even for laboratory and medicinal purposes.

Since white or spirit vinegar contains a higher percentage of acidic content, it is more ideal as a household cleaning agent. It provides an eco-friendly solution for eliminating dirt and foul odor on a wide range of materials such as fabric, metal, glass, fur, tiles, and many others. It can also be used as a urine-cleaner for pets, as well as a natural herbicide or weed killer. White vinegar does not contain ammonia; it cleanses thoroughly without leaving any strong or harmful smells.

Distilled vinegar, being the milder variation, is more suitable for cooking, flavoring, food preservation, or as a food additive. Additionally, it can be used as a household remedy. For instance, it is an effective way of curing or preventing athlete’s foot and warts. It is also very helpful in relieving sunburn and prevents the skin from peeling or blistering.

Both white and distilled vinegar are widely available. Some people produce their own vinegar by fermenting fruit juices, slightly akin to the production process of wine.

Summary

  • White and distilled are types of vinegar. They differ fundamentally in their acetic acid content.
  • White vinegar, also known as spirit vinegar, has 5-20% acetic acid. This is generally higher as compared to distilled vinegar’s 5-8%.
  • White vinegar is made through the natural fermentation of sugar cane extract or by combining acetic acid with water. Distilled vinegar can be made from any type of vinegar by separating ethanol from the base mixture.

Both distilled and white vinegar can be used in cooking, cleaning, food preservation, and for medical and laboratory purposes. However, since white vinegar is stronger than its counterpart, it is more suitable for cleaning and disinfecting. Distilled vinegar, on the other hand, is better for cooking, flavoring, food preservation, and as a natural home remedy.


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14 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for providing an education on the various uses of vinegar. And I have no doubt there are perhaps many more.

    In my case a shot glass of white vinegar and a shot glass of Dawn liquid soap plus a thimble full of regular isopropil alcohol into a small bucket and “voila” no streaking even in the sun. Obviously YOU figure out the amounts you’ll need according to how many windows you are cleaning.

    My best tip is use crumbled newspapers for drying rather than a squeegee or rags. Newspapers work SUPERBLY – just don’t use the comic strips.

  2. when mixing vin and dawn do u use water in the bucket?

    • Plz forgive me for not having replied in good time. Somehow I got sidetracked on my end. No you do not use water because water does nothing. What I’ve outlined is just fine. You can pick up a lot of added tips if you buy Heinz all natural distilled white vinegar. Call them @1-800-255-5750 for not only their booklet of tons of “uses” but also dozens of other incredibly great tips on all types of uses of white vinegar. It’s not only for salads/cooking — that will surprise you. I also use it as a TOP cheap water softener. It unclogs wash machine residues (1/2 cup on a rinse cycle) I buy white vinegar by the gallon cuz of so many household uses that it has. Keep in kitchen, laundry room, garage, unclog your steam iron with 2 runs, etc………Good Luck and enjoy.

  3. Can the white / spirit vinegar also be used for home remedies ie athletes foot? Thanks so much for a great article!

  4. has been suggested to use apple cider vinegar as a rinse for getting yellow out of white hair would white vinegar work better since it has no color. Any other suggestions from anyone

  5. Which vinegar is better for cleaning fruits and veggies? The gallon (cheaper) size says “reduced with water to 5% acidity. Would that be effective enough for cleaning fruits and veggies

  6. Hi, I need to buy white vinegar to make a buttermilk substitute, to do this I have to add a tbsp white vinegar to a cup then top the remainder of the cup up with milk and mix, then let sit for 5 mins..

    The closest I can find anywhere is distilled white vinegar, is this the same as white vinegar?? I’m confused…

    This is the vinegar I mean:
    http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/vinegar/sarsons-distilled-white-vinegar-568ml

    I carnt find anything else except for distilled malt vinegar…

    • Which vinegar is best for a sauerkraut salad?

    • In the first sentence, it should be ‘surprised by’ rather than ‘surprise of’. Poor sentence construct. Furthermore, I can accept ‘spirit’ vinegar, but there is no such thing as ‘distilled white vinegar’! It is simply ‘distilled vinegar’. It’s clearly clear. Milk is white. So there.

  7. Question… Im making pepper jelly. I need two cups of either Cider Vinegar (which I prefer) or I could use White distilled… (Yes, it does day white) Anyhoo… I only have one cup apple cider and a bottle of white… can I use a cup of each?

    • Let me answer this way. When I made my chive blossom/garlic scape vinegar, I used distilled white vinegar for a batch, I used apple cider vinegar for a batch and then I used a half and half mixture of white distilled and half apple cider vinegars combined. They turned out with each vinegar being infused with the chive blossoms and garlic scape but I believe the apple cider vinegar has a stronger taste because of it being “apple” than plain distilled white. Hope this helps.

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