What is White Vinegar (Distilled Vinegar)?

Also known as: White Vinegar (Canada), Distilled Vinegar (USA) or Spirit Vinegar (UK) or Alcohol vinegar

White Vinegar myfavouritepastime.com

White vinegar is a solution of acetic acid and water, in different proportions, depending on the intended use. The proportion of acetic acid can varies from 5-20% by volume and water from, 80-95% by volume, depending on intended use. The colour is clear like water, and not really white. It’s made from distilled ethanol (C2H5OH), produced from carbohydrate rich foods like sugar cane, beetroot or corn.

White vinegar intended for cooking, baking, canning, meat preservation or for salad dressings, has 5% acetic acid by volumeand 95% water by volume.

Most of the white vinegar produced is used in the food industry for manufacturing of sauces (tabasco, buffalo) salad dressings, canned foods and for preservation of meat and other food products.

White vinegar is made in two steps

White Vinegar myfavouritepastime.com

Step one:  yeast is added to carbohydrate rich organic foods like corn, cane sugar, beetroot or barley malt.

The carbohydrate is broken down into sugar which is subsequently converted into ethanol (C2H5OH) in a process called fermentation. The resulting ethanol is distilled to purify it and remove any impurities.

In step two, the ethanol is diluted, and fermented using acetic acid bacteria, to produce acetic acid.

The process is called acetification and it requires oxygen. (Science Direct)

What is white vinegar used for?

Most of the white vinegar produced is used in the food industry to produce sauces (tabasco, buffalo ), salad dressings, canned food, baked goods and food preservation.

It can also be used for cooking, baking and for salad dressings although wine, cider and malt vinegars or balsamic vinegar is preferred as they impart better flavour for homemade salads.

White vinegar can be aromatized by steeping herbs like tarragon, garlic, basil, elder which enhance flavour and aroma.


  1. Supreme vinegar: white distilled vinegar, ingredients explained.
  2. Real simple: The Nine Best Vinegars For Cooking.
  3. Science Direct: Learn more about, vinegar.


Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

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