Can apple cider vinegar burn your skin? 

In this brief article, we’ll address the query: “Can apple cider vinegar burn your skin?” We’ll also address how apple cider vinegar can cause burns to your skin, what apple cider vinegar is, how it is used and how it should be stored. 

Can apple cider vinegar burn your skin? 

Yes, apple cider vinegar can cause burns to your skin. Chemically, it is a liquid that has a lower pH than one the membrane around your cells are accustomed to. Skin should have a pH of around 5.5, while apple cider vinegar, due to its low (but still significant) concentration of acetic acid, has a pH of 4.5, which induces chemical burns.

How can apple cider vinegar cause burns to your skin?

Apple cider vinegar can cause chemical burns on a person’s skin, due to the acetic acid present in the solution. 

At a molecular level, the acetic acid corrodes (deteriorates) the proteins present in the membranes that envelope a person’s skin cells. Once enough of these membranes are damaged, it translates into a lesion or burns, which may be quite painful and may even require specialized medical treatment. 

Acetic acid is not a strong acid, and casual users who accidentally splash some on their skin suffer no damage if they rinse it off immediately, but there have been cases of patients who reportedly used vinegar to treat mild imperfections on their skin, and as a result, contracted mild burns. 

The damage it may cause is not limited to skin, but can also occur in mucosa such as the inside of the mouth, and the digestive tract. 

Apple cider vinegar is often touted as an easy home remedy for removing moles, warts, and some marks on the skin, but this is ill-advised as these procedures should only be carried out by professionally certified dermatologists.  

What is apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a fermented product obtained from mashed apples.  It is commonly used as a seasoning in cooking, and for preserving foods, though it has been touted as a product with therapeutic properties, although more studies are needed to determine whether its alleged benefits are true. 

Chemically, it is made up of compounds such as carotenoids, vitamins C and E (antioxidants), phytosterols, and phenolic compounds. Also, it contains organic acids (such as acetic acid, citric acid, formic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, etc). 

Apple cider vinegar is made in two main stages; in the first, the sugar in the mashed apples is fermented with yeasts and turned into alcohol. Once the sugar has been converted, the alcohol will then undergo another fermentation, this time with bacteria that will transform it into acetic acid. 

This can be achieved in small batches, or at a large industrialized scale, and the end product is apple cider vinegar. 

What are the uses of apple cider vinegar? 

Apple cider vinegar is commonly used to preserve food (by pickling) and as a cooking ingredient (salad dressing, seasoning, garnish, and cocktails). 

Additionally, some health benefits have been attributed to apple cider vinegar, although its usage should be exercised with caution. Notably, it has been linked to: 

  • Lowering blood sugar in diabetic patients
  • Treating sore throats
  • As a facial toner
  • To treat dandruff
  • Oral hygiene (cleaning teeth, dentures, mouthwash)
  • Treating acne
  • And a natural deodorizer. 

However, it’s important to note that the above uses may very well require that the apple cider vinegar be watered down, as acetic acid can still have corrosive effects on the skin, mucous membranes, and even teeth enamel. 

Non-medical uses include using it as a mildly abrasive cleaner, and deodorizer, an ingredient in sticky traps for flies, as a hair wash, as a detergent, and even as a herbicide and insecticide. 

How should I store apple cider vinegar? 

Apple cider vinegar is best stored in a pantry or cabinet where sunlight will not shine on it and begin to break down its components. 

Unopened, it has a shelf life of two years, and after it has been uncapped, the shelf life is halved to just one. The acid content means there’s a low chance of bacteria or mold growing in it, but most commercially sold apple cider vinegar is pasteurized beforehand, to extend its shelf life. 

To summarize, apple cider vinegar bottles should be tightly sealed once opened, and kept in a dry, cool cabinet with low lighting. 

Apple cider vinegar that has spoiled may present changes in its color (not the transparency), an awkward smell, or have begun to bubble and even expand the bottle. This is a sign of possible noxious microbial activity and potentially harmful products being secreted into the vinegar. Spoiled vinegar is best disposed of down the drain. 

Other FAQs about Vinegar that you may be interested in.

Can you eat vinegar with an ulcer?

Can you eat vinegar with braces?

Can you eat vinegar with milk?

Can you eat vinegar with pancreatitis?


In this brief article, we’ve addressed the query: “Can apple cider vinegar burn your skin?” We’ve also addressed how apple cider vinegar can cause burns to your skin, what apple cider vinegar is, how it is used and how it should be stored.