Lemon juice as a natural biocide for disinfecting drinking water

Bull Pan Am Health Organ. 1994 Dec;28(4):324-30.


The natural biocidal activity of lemon juice was studied in order to explore its possible use as a disinfectant and inhibitor of Vibrio cholerae in drinking water for areas lacking water treatment plants. From January through July 1993, water samples of varying alkalinity and hardness were prepared artificially, and underground and surface water samples were obtained from a number of different rural and urban areas in Argentina's Buenos Aires Province. After measuring the latter samples' hardness and alkalinity, a range of concentrations of lemon juice and other acidifiers were added to each sample, and the resulting pH as well as the samples' ability to destroy V. cholerae were determined. The results show that lemon juice can actively prevent survival of V. cholerae but that such activity is reduced in markedly alkaline water. For example, treatment of underground drinking water, which is characterized as having the greatest degree of alkalinity in our area, will typically destroy V. cholerae if the alkalinity of the water is the equivalent of that produced by 200 mg CaCO3 per liter, if enough lemon juice is added to bring the lemon juice concentration to 2%, and if the lemon juice is allowed to act for 30 minutes. All this points up the need to determine the alkalinity of water from any local source to be treated in the process of assessing the minimum concentration of lemon juice required.

MeSH terms

  • Argentina
  • Citrus*
  • Disinfection
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Vibrio cholerae*
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Purification*