Difference Between Distilled White Vinegar and White Vinegar

According to one estimate, there are more than 20 types of vinegar out there. Yet, a lot of people think they are all the same. However, if you are trying to find the right vinegar type to use, then you need to do some studying.

ProductBrandNamePrice
BraggBragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With the Mother– USDA Certified OrganicCheck Price on Amazon
PompeianPompeian Gourmet Organic Red Wine Vinegar, Unfiltered & UnpasteurizedCheck Price on Amazon
PompeianPompeian Gourmet White Wine VinegarCheck Price on Amazon
COLAVITAColavita Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP, 3 years, 8.5 Floz, Glass BottleCheck Price on Amazon
MarukanMarukan Genuine Brewed Rice Vinegar, Unseasoned, 1 GallonCheck Price on Amazon

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For the purpose of this post, let’s study two of the most commonly used types of vinegar: the distilled vinegar and white vinegar.

While these two types of vinegar may sound and look the same, they have various great differences. Understanding how they differ will help you decide which of them you would use.

So, read on and learn how distilled white vinegar is different from white vinegar.

What is distilled white vinegar?

As its name suggests, distilled white vinegar is the distilled version of white vinegar. This means that natural distilled white vinegar went through more processes and thus, was purer in content.

Because of the sophisticated distillation process of white distilled vinegar, manufacturers have the freedom to use a wide range of base ingredients. For example, you can prepare distilled white vinegar using the following:

  • Apple cider
  • Wine
  • Rice
  • Malt
  • Coconut
  • Palm
  • Honey
  • Beer
  • Balsamic
  • Fruit
  • Kiwifruit
  • Cane
  • Raisin
  • Kombucha
  • Date

The list just goes on and on.

The term “distilled” basically means that the liquid part of the solution was separated from the base mixture. Because of the distillation process, the resulting vinegar only possesses 5-8% acetic acid in water.

Acetic acid is the component that gives vinegar its sour taste. Usually, the acetic acid was produced by adding oxygen to distilled grain alcohol, letting bacteria grow in it. This then leads to the formation of acetic acid.

What is white vinegar?

White vinegar is mainly produced using sugar cane. It is not really white but rather a colorless solution. During the manufacturing process, they get sugar cane extract and use acid fermentation to produce white vinegar. Acid fermentation causes the liquid to oxidize and make the mixture more acidic.

Another easier way to produce white vinegar is to simply combine water and acetic acid. Because of the direct mixing of acetic acid to water, the resulting vinegar becomes sourer and it comes with a higher level of acetic acid, which ranges from 5% to 20% of the liquid.

What is the difference between white vinegar and distilled white vinegar?

Distilled white vinegar and white vinegar differ in a lot of ways. Here are some of them:

Name

Obviously, these two types of vinegar differ in their names. However, it is worth noting that distilled white vinegar is also called virgin vinegar while white vinegar is called spirit vinegar.

Ingredients

Like what was mentioned above, distilled white vinegar can use a wide range of ingredients, from apple cider to honey. On the other hand, white vinegar primarily uses sugar cane.

Taste

White or spirit vinegar is way sourer than distilled white vinegar. Acetic acid is the substance that gives vinegar its sour taste. White vinegar’s acetic acid content may reach up to 20% while distilled white vinegar is only up to 8%.

Manufacturing process

Distilled white vinegar undergoes more purification processes compared to basic white vinegar. The distillation process in distilled white vinegar lowers the acetic acid level. 

Purity

Distilled white vinegar has a higher level of purity compared to white vinegar. As a result, distilled white vinegar is more preferable when being used in medicine and laboratory purposes. It is even more useful as a home remedy for skin diseases and issues.

Cooking

Both of these vinegar types can be used for cooking.

However, if you want to have a more sour punch to your dish, then you can choose white vinegar. If you want to have more control in adding sourness, then the distilled white vinegar is a better choice.

When it comes to cooking, generally speaking, distilled white vinegar is the better choice. Distilled white vinegar is best used for baking, flavoring, pickling, and meat preservation and processing.

Since white vinegar has a high level of acetic acid, it shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts. White vinegar is better used for preserving food. Sometimes, white vinegar is used for preparing salads, marinating meat, and making cheese.

Cleaning

Both distilled white vinegar and white vinegar can be used for cleaning. Both come with reliable antimicrobial properties. These vinegar types can be used to remove unpleasant and strong odors. You can also use them for cleaning windows, floors, tiles, toilets, showers, and tables.

However, between the two, white vinegar is more effective when it comes to cleaning. Since white vinegar comes with a higher level of acetic acid, it has a better cleaning power than distilled white vinegar.

Similarities of distilled white vinegar and white vinegar

It is worth noting that there are several similarities that you will find in distilled white vinegar and white vinegar. Some of the similarities include the following:

  • Both are eco-friendly cleaning solutions
  • Both are prepared through fermentation
  • Both come with acetic acid and water
  • Both are versatile in use and inexpensive
  • Both are sour in taste

An example of distilled white vinegar

One of the most popular white and distilled vinegar is Lucy’s distilled white vinegar. The natural distillation process of this product ensures that you only get safe, clean, and best-tasting 5% distilled white vinegar.

Lucy’s distilled white vinegar is perfect for dipping sauces, baking bread, replacing salt and buttermilk, and others. Aside from cooking, this product can also be used for cleaning household items.

Buy it now: Amazon

An example of white vinegar

When it comes to white vinegar, you will love Bluewater white vinegar. This product is perfect for cleaning rather than cooking. It can serve as deodorizer and laundry additive. It removes stain, pet dirt, waterspot,  grime, adhesive, mildew, rust, and lime.

The white vinegar of Bluewater comes with 20% acidity, Thus, it’s a great cleaning product in your home, office, and other places. Because of this, Bluewater’s white vinegar is rated for industrial use.

Buy it now: Amazon


Commonly asked questions

With so many types of vinegars, it is easy to have some questions about them. Here are some frequently asked queries about vinegars and their answers.

  1. Which is safer to use, distilled white vinegar or white vinegar?

    Both are safe to use. However, when it comes to cooking, distilled white vinegar is considered safer because it has a lower concentration of acetic acid.

  2. Which vinegar comes with better cleaning power?

    Both types of vinegar can be used for cleaning. However, white vinegar is a better choice if you’re looking for a cleaning solution. The higher the acetic content, the more effective it is in removing dirt.

  3. How should I store my vinegar?

    Thanks to the acidic content of vinegar, it can lasts for a long time. This means that you can store vinegar in room temperature. You don’t need to put it inside a refrigerator. Keep your vinegar in its approved container and secure its cap. 

    For best result, keep your vinegar in a cool, dark place. Most vinegar should last about a year. After that, its flavor may gradually diminish.

What are other types of vinegar?

Like what was mentioned earlier, there are over 20 types of vinegar and distilled white vinegar and white vinegar are just among the most commonly used in homes. Nevertheless, here are some of other types of vinegar you might be interested in.

  • Red wine vinegar – made with fermenting red wine. This is best used in food with heartier and stronger flavor such as beef. However, you can also use it for salad dressings, marinades, sauces, and slow cooker recipes.

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  • White wine vinegar – like red wine vinegar, the white wine vinegar is made with fermenting white wine. This is best used for chicken and fish dishes.

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  • Balsamic vinegar – made from unfermented grape juice, balsamic vinegar comes with a deep brown color. It comes with a bold, distinctive, and complex flavor. Balsamic vinegar will work better if you combine it with other oil and seasonings.

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  • Apple cider vinegar – this is known to be a healthier option because it is made with Apple. The best thing about Apple cider vinegar is it comes with a mild taste and sourness. It is a good vinegar choice for marinating chicken or fish. If you wish to create a salad vinaigrette, you can mix apple cider vinegar with olive oil. Best of all, you can drink small amount of apple cider to aid your digestion and improve the health of your gut.

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  • Rice vinegar – this is perhaps vinegar with the mildest sourness. It comes with a low acetic acid level. Made from fermented rice wine, rice vinegar is commonly used in Asian cooking.

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  • Malt Vinegar – made from malting barley, the malt vinegar is traditionally used for recipes that involves fish, chips, beans, and pickles.

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  • Sherry Vinegar – this is a popular product of the Spanish province of Cadiz. Sherry vinegar comes from Sherry wine and is fermented for at least six months. The longer the fermentation is, the costlier the vinegar gets. Sherry vinegar can serve as a balsamic vinegar substitute.

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Choose the right vinegar for you

Now that we have discussed the differencews between distilled white vinegar and white vinegar, you should have a better idea which one is a better choice.

Whether you are cooking or cleaning, using the right type of vinegar is crucial. It can dramatically change the outcome of your activity. Be sure to go back to this guide whenever you need to review different types of vinegar.

ProductBrandNamePrice
BraggBragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With the Mother– USDA Certified OrganicCheck Price on Amazon
PompeianPompeian Gourmet Organic Red Wine Vinegar, Unfiltered & UnpasteurizedCheck Price on Amazon
PompeianPompeian Gourmet White Wine VinegarCheck Price on Amazon
COLAVITAColavita Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP, 3 years, 8.5 Floz, Glass BottleCheck Price on Amazon
MarukanMarukan Genuine Brewed Rice Vinegar, Unseasoned, 1 GallonCheck Price on Amazon

* If you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.