I have a vinegar based bar-b-que sauce recipe that calls for 3% acidity vinegar which cannot be found. How do I cut 5% vinegar to 3%?

  • Yes, cut it with water. The 1950's & early 60's in the UK were times of post-war austerity & shortages. Local chip shops looking to shortchange customers would heavily dilute vinegar which all but ruined the taste of a good piece of cod/haddock & chips. This reprehensible practice was confined to a minority of chippies but was almost always the case with mobile chip shops at sporting events, funfairs & places like Blackpool where hundreds of thousands of day-trippers & B&B guests made easy targets. Sarson's Vinegar was the best! "Don't just say vinegar. Say Sarson's", was the TV-ad's jingle Oct 21, 2016 at 9:57

3 Answers 3


Cut it with water.

Commercial white vinegar is basically nothing but water and acetic acid.

3 units of 5% vinegar and 2 units of plain water give 5 units of 3% vinegar.


I know this is somewhat old. However, for conversion of a higher concentration to a lower concentration the classic formula is

V1.C1 = V2.C2 (or Vi.Ci = Vf.Cf)

Where C1 is your starting concentration and C2 is your final concentration. V2 is the volume you need and V1 is the volume you will take from your concentrated stock.

In your example you have 5% (C1) and you want 3% (C2). Lets say you want 4 fluid oz (V2) (or any unit you care to use, it doesn't matter in the slightest for use of the equation, so long as you keep the measurement type to be the same on both sides - i.e. don't convert from oz (at V1) to ml (as V2) in this equation).

Substituting in:

V1 x 5% = 3% x 4 oz

Solve for V1:

V1 = 3% x 4 oz/5%

V1 = 12/5 (cancel percentages and you are left with oz)

V1 = 2.4 oz of your 5% vinegar, make up to 4 oz with water or other liquid of choice in your recipe.


You asked for a formula

Let X bet the amount of 5%

The amount of water you need to add is
5/3*X - X = 2/3*X

So if you have 6 cups
2/3*6 = 4 cups to add

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