Under the Sea — May 30, 2016 at 5:00 am

Unexpected Uses for Seaweed

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©istockphoto/MarcoAMazza

©istockphoto/MarcoAMazza

What do fertilizer, ice cream and $2,000 skin balm have in common? Why, seaweed, of course! This jack-of-all-trades marine algae is more than something that washes up on shore and gets tangled in your hair. We promise you’ll never look at the slimy stuff the same way again.

Food Additive
Next time you’re looking to cool off with a triple scoop ice cream cone, take a moment to thank your lucky stars for seaweed. Thanks to it, carrageenan, alginate, or algae can be extracted and then added to the rest of the sweet ingredients. So what does it do? It helps keep ice cream smooth, slows down melt time and prevents ice crystals from forming.

Drink Additive
Many would argue that there’s no better way to cool off on a hot, sunny summer afternoon than with a nice, cold beer. With the addition of seaweed extract, your favourite bottle of brew is able to maintain a fine-textured, even foam. Or, in the case of Kelpie Seaweed Ale, a microbrew out of Scotland, seaweed is one of the main ingredients. We’ll raise a glass to that!

Skincare Booster
If you insist on treating your skin with only the finest products, you’ll want to get yourself a pot of Creme de la Mer’s La Mer moisturizing cream. Touting an impressive ingredient list featuring seaweed as the star performer, this product claims to result in skin appearing virtually ageless. The only thing keeping you from eternal youth might be the $2,060 price tag.

Fertilizer
Boasting an excellent level of both potassium and nitrogen and containing high quantities of insoluble carbohydrates, seaweed is the perfect way to fertilize and condition gardens and crops. Alginic acid, a component of seaweed, is a wonderful soil conditioner, making it no surprise that green thumbs around the world covet the slimy stuff to help make their garden grow.

Healing
If the thought of taking a dip a pool of seaweed doesn’t appeal to you, you’re not alone. Seaweed baths, popular in Ireland and gaining traction in the rest of the world, are smelly, slimy affairs. That being said, they have been said to offer therapeutic properties, relieving symptoms of inflammation and leaving skin feeling silky smooth.

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