I am trying to make a smooth vinegar cream for short term use of up to about 3 months (i.e. no preservatives are needed if stored in a cool place).

Vinegars such as apple cider vinegar or pure acetic acid tend to be sold as liquids.
These liquids are diluted like water and sometimes it's hard to administer them on a tissue; for example, on mushrooms or inside a candy, or as part of a cleaning material or cosmetic appliances.

  • Starches gave a thick, hard paste and sank
  • Pectin or Gum Arabic or Xanthan gum made clusters of solid material paste
  • Cream of tartar worked nice but if I recall correctly the outcome still wasn't "creamy"
  • Aloe Vera gel worked nice, but if I recall correctly it was often too dilute in my opinion

How to make a paste out of vinegar?
Perhaps Borax? Perhaps some vegan butter such as Shea butter, Cocoa butter, Mango butter, etc.?

  • $\begingroup$ Could you use cream of tartar or citric acid instead? $\endgroup$
    – Karsten
    Apr 22, 2022 at 1:44
  • $\begingroup$ @KarstenTheis I tried cream of tartar but I don't recall smoothness of industrial creams. $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2022 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ @KarstenTheis I believe that citric acid would make the paste significantly more acidic than I need it but I should try it. $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2022 at 8:45
  • $\begingroup$ Such thickeners may need conservants, unless for short-time applications. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Apr 22, 2022 at 9:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Maybe better answered at cooking.stackexchange.com? $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2022 at 10:17

2 Answers 2


Thickeners are sometimes very eccentric. They just need to be coddled.

For instance, xanthan will certainly work in your application, if you treat it nicely - or get the right xanthan gum. There are various grades of xanthan gum, even various grades of the food grade gum. One grade is called readily dispersible - but it is made by using formaldehyde, and restrictions on formaldehyde are currently making it difficult to find.

The problem with xanthan gum is that it disperses readily in alkaline solutions (pH ~10), but begins swelling in lower pH solutions so fast that the particles become sticky on the surface and clump together so quickly that the inner portions of the particle are then removed from easy access to water which would swell the particle.

So, one solution would be to get food grade (is that necessary?) readily dispersible xanthan gum. Another, slightly more complicated, would be to disperse the not-so-readily dispersible xanthan gum in water with a slightly alkaline pH (pH 8 will have 100 times more OH$^-$ ions than H$^+$ ions), until the mixture is smooth (and way too thick!), then dilute with your vinegar and mix thoroughly. I've done this on a large scale (1000 gallons). A little NaHCO3 or even Na2CO3 will get you the pH =8, then the vinegar will totally overcome the alkalinity, and the xanthan gum will be already swollen and thickened.

Some thickeners may work better at the low pH of vinegar, like the suggested modified celluloses such as methyl cellulose or hydroxyethyl cellulose, but making a pre-thickened mix and then diluting with vinegar might work better in all cases.

In a similar thickening situation, egg albumen coagulates in vinegar. "...by adding vinegar, we get ...increased acidity to help the egg white coagulate and form a solid white". (Ref) So don't bother trying egg white to thicken your vinegar!

Ref: https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/science/ask-a-researcher/why-do-we-add-vinegar-when-we-are-poaching-an-egg


The best solution is polyvinyl alcohol $5$% in water. The trouble is that it takes many hours to make it dissolved, even if you heat the solution. The solution is viscous like glycerin. But if you mix it 1:1 with another solution made with borax $5$% in water, the resulting mixture is much more viscous, nearly solid. It looks like the silly matter called slime. Borax is hydrated sodium diborate $\ce{Na2B4O7·10H2O}$

But be cautious ! Don't let the mixture dry on your skin : when dry, it sticks firmly to your hair ! Not to the skin, but to the hair : Impossible to remove !


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