5 Top Difference between Tannin and Tannic Acid (With Table)

Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry that deals with the structure, properties, and reaction of organic compounds. Most of these compounds contain carbon in covalent bonding.

This branch of chemistry was initially limited to the study of compounds generated by living organisms. But the inclusion of man-made substances made the topic more complicated.

Tannins and tannic acids are some of the organic compounds in the branch of chemistry. These compounds physically sound the same but this is not the case according to organic chemistry.

So, what is the main difference between tannin and tannic acid? The former is used to name a group of organic compounds whereas the latter is a type of tannin.

Tannins belong to the polyphenols category. This organic compound consists of several phenol groups in the same molecule. It is the reason behind the name polyphenol biomolecules.

This article provides a comprehensive explanation of the differences between tannin and tannic acid. Take the time to read through and learn how to differentiate the two terms.

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Comparison Table (Tannin vs Tannic Acid)

Basic Terms Tannins Tannic Acid
MeaningThis is a group of polyphenols that bind with proteins and precipitate them.It is an organic molecule with a chemical formula of C76H52O46.
PropertiesHas numerous phenyl groups



Weak acidity

Soluble in water

ApplicationProtect plants from predation.

Helps to regulate plant growth.

Helps to react with chemical stains.

Act as a mordent for dye production.

What Are Tannins?

Tannins are chemical compounds that belong to a large group of organic compounds known as polyphenols. The molecules are usually larger than those found in other types of polyphenols.

Tannins have the ability to combine with other molecules such as proteins and minerals. Tannins are known for precipitating proteins.

Tannins are naturally found in both edible and inedible plants. This organic compound occurs in the bark, leaves, fruits, spice, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

The chemical compound plays a crucial role in determining the color and flavor of plant foods. Some of the dietary sources of tannins are tea, coffee, wine, and chocolate.

What Is Tannic Acid?

It is an organic molecule with a chemical formula of C76H52O46. Research shows that the organic molecule is a special type of tannin.

The chemical name is derived from polyphenol due to the numerous phenyl groups. It is a weak acid due to the presence of several phenol groups.

Tannic acid is used as a mordent in dye production. The weak acid can also be applied to woods with low tannin content and metals to prevent rusting.

Besides that, it is used in the food industry for wine clarification, beer clarification, and color stabilization processes. Keep in mind that tannic acid is highly soluble in water.

Main Difference between Tannin and Tannic Acid

  1. Tannin belongs to polyphenols whereas tannic acid is a special type of tannins.
  2. Tannin has more acidity whereas tannic acid is a weak acid.
  3. Tannic acid is soluble in water while tannins are insoluble in water.
  4. Tannins protect plants from predation while tannic acid helps to react with chemical stains.
  5. Tannins regulate plant growth while tannic acid acts as a mordent for dye production.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Is Tannic Acid Found Naturally?

Occur in nutgalls, arboreal, and swellings caused by parasitic wasps. It can also be found in twigs of Chestnut and oak trees.

Is Tannic Acid Good for Health?

Absolutely. It helps to induce constipation and treat diarrhea. It is rich in antioxidants and anti-mutagenic properties.

What Is Tannin Used For?

Tannins have numerous applications. It is used in clarifying wine and beer, manufacture of leather products, as mordent in dye production, and painting.

In Conclusion

The main difference between tannin and tannic acid is that the former is an organic compound belonging to polyphenols while the latter is a special type of tannin.

The chemical properties of tannic acid and tannins can also help to make the distinction. We hope the information was useful to your study.

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