Is Your White Vinegar Made From Petroleum?

by Chrystal Johnson on January 29, 2013

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petroleum-vinegarI was at the grocery store a few weeks ago picking up a few things. As I walked down one aisle, I saw a man pick up a bottle of white distilled vinegar and the woman standing next to him asked if he was going to be using it for cooking. He said, “No, why?” (He said he was using it to clean an engine or something.)

She told the man that unless it says, “Made from Grain,” on the bottle, then the white vinegar is most likely made from petroleum. I had never heard that before, so of course I had to do my own research.

I wouldn’t want to eat vinegar derived from petroleum, but I also wouldn’t want to clean with it (we use vinegar for cleaning all the time). What’s the point of using natural cleaners like vinegar if I’m just smearing petroleum all over my house?

What did I discover? According to the FDA’s website, petroleum can be utilized to begin the process of vinegar making. And the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to label the vinegar as being derived from a petroleum starter.

I have noticed that Heinz vinegar specifically states on the bottle that it is derived from select sun-ripened grain. Heinz does use corn to derive its distilled white vinegar, which also brings up concerns of GMOs, but at least it’s not petroleum.

On the other hand, when I look at the bottle of vinegar I have from Stater Bros, there is no mention of ingredients or processing. In the comments of this post, one woman called Kroger for a list of ingredients for their store brand vinegar and they couldn’t help her. The author also noted that store brand vinegar didn’t work for cheese making the same way that Heinz did.

I have dug and dug, and haven’t been able to find a concrete answer about whether there are petroleum-derived white vinegars on our store shelves. Lots of speculation, but that’s where it ends. However, I do find it fishy that most of the store brands don’t advertise how the vinegar was made.

While Heinz is almost a buck more expensive than the store brand when it’s not on sale, I think I’ll be grabbing only bottles that say they are derived from grain moving forward. Better safe than sorry!

Have you checked your vinegar bottle?

About Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal, publisher of Happy Mothering, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former marketing manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life. She enjoys sharing those discoveries with anyone who's willing to listen.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amanda January 29, 2013 at 9:07 am

Very interesting, I would’ve never thought to even look at the label on my vinegar. I did find this though.


2 Chrystal Johnson January 29, 2013 at 10:26 am

Interesting! I wish the information was readily available about what our vinegar is actually made with!


3 Good Girl Gone Green January 29, 2013 at 9:19 am

I have heard of that before, and I try to find made from grains as well when I buy vinegar for cleaning. Perhaps, organic would be a solution? Not sure though. And it is expensive. ~Stephanie :)
Good Girl Gone Green recently posted..Mini hazelnut butter filled chocolates


4 Donna July 11, 2014 at 9:23 am

My research located info. that vinegar made from, or started from petroleum, still may be labeled “Organic”. sheeeesh


5 Rachel
Twitter: wifethenmama
January 29, 2013 at 9:31 am

I heard this, and so I always buy Heinz. I mean it might be double the cost, but its still only $2 to avoid the petroleum.
Rachel recently posted..POPCORN PARTY!


6 Brittany @ The Pistachio Project
Twitter: PistachioProjec
January 29, 2013 at 10:10 am

I buy four monks vinegar from costco. $3something for 2 huge jugs. :) Last time I did my research Four Monks was not petroleum.
Brittany @ The Pistachio Project recently posted..In A Nutshell: 1/29/13


7 Mrs. Cox January 29, 2013 at 10:29 am

Wow. Never would have known… I buy mine from Costco too, just checked the brand and it is Four Monks and marked distilled from corn. Thank you for sharing!
Mrs. Cox recently posted..Primal Menu Plan: One


8 Shai Smith
Twitter: vagabondstudio
January 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

This is good to know! Thank you for sharing!
Shai Smith recently posted..Products We Would Like To See Become Greener


9 Danielle B. January 29, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Interesting. Incidentally, I do buy the Heinz brand, because that is what they carry at Costco. I do remember reading years ago, from Patricia Bragg in one of her Bragg health books, that white vinegar was made from petroleum and was only good for cleaning, not eating. I haven’t heard anything else about it since, until today.


10 The Goat Cheese Lady January 29, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Another interesting addition to the vinegar conversation is that Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar in the plastic bottle here in Colorado Springs is made from “select sun ripened grain and caramel coloring.” Weird. Wouldn’t you think it’d have apples?? BUT, Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar in the glass bottle is made from “apples.” It’s a great idea to always check the labels! – Lindsey


11 Chrystal Johnson January 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Interesting! I typically only buy Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.


12 Jen Paulson February 11, 2014 at 8:42 pm

There is apple cider FLAVORED vinegar and apple cider vinegar. I think that is why you saw a difference in the ingredient list. Cleaver marketing.


13 Brittney Minor
Twitter: brittleby
January 30, 2013 at 9:20 am

Very interesting! I hadn’t heard of this either. Thanks for the heads up!
Brittney Minor recently posted..Free Blogger Opp ~ Toddler-Preschooler Prize Pack


14 Lindsay September 8, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Petroleum!? Ummmm no! Ethanol /ethyl alcohol, yes – which is a derivative of corn. Some silly person saw ethanol and thought “ehrmergerd that can power a car and its in my food” and thus this silly petroleum thing got started


15 Chrystal Johnson September 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Hi Lindsay, did you read the FDA article I linked to? Here’s the very first sentence from that article, “Increasing quantities of alcohol (ethyl alcohol) have been made synthetically from natural gas and petroleum derivatives.”


16 kevin December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm


i was curious and ran across this. sorry i’m so late.

many years ago–1960s and 1970s– you could buy white vinegar in the grocery store produced by the Shell Oil Company, with their little orange mollusc label right on the glass bottle. vinegar is just diluted acetic acid, and you can make it from petroleum as easily as you can make it from plants, really. anyway, i haven’t seen it in years.
kevin recently posted..Quakers in the Country: Sandworm


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