Is Your White Vinegar Made From Petroleum?

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?

Powered by


    • Donna says

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

  1. Danielle B. says

    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.

  2. says

    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

  3. Lindsay says

    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

    • says

      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.”

  4. says


    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

  5. jinky says

    chrystal, in the Philippines we don’t have problems with whether the vinegar is made from petroleum or other potentially harmful products. here, we can get 100% pure and organic coconut vinegar that is naturally fermented anytime from our neighborhood “maninguete”, or coconut sap collector. we buy it as vinegar for only 20 pesos a liter (about half a dollar) or we leave the sap to ferment on its own for five days minimum or more, depending on the sourness we want. we use it on almost anything, but it is most especially tasty on “kinilaw” (similar to ceviche).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge