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August 23, 2010

Irish Moss Paste aka Sea Moss

When I discovered this ingredient, it was a bit intimidating, but once I took on the challenge of learning just how to prepare it, I realized how very simple it is, and wanted to share this with you.

See Important Update below. 

Eucheuma (Japanese Moss)
UPDATE: Apparently there has been some hullabaloo about Irish Moss and it is now on the chopping block. It's distressing when a product comes around, you research it, find all sorts of good information, about it, only to find out months or years later, that, hmm, maybe not so good.  Dr. Joanne Tobacman of the University of Illinois has been researching carageenan moss for over a decade. Carageenan moss is a derivative of red Irish moss, and this alone can be confusing. Most of us make our paste from Eucheuma or Japanese Sea Moss (from the Philippines) and not "Irish" mossThe phrase "Irish Moss Paste" is now widely used, however, the folks in Ireland are not too happy with our loose usage of the phrase.

Chondrus crispus (Irish Moss)
The focus of Tobacman's study was on extracted carageenan used as a thickener in commercial foods. We have little information on raw, unprocessed seaweed, which contains so many other properties (some of them quite medicinal).  Carageenan (meaning 'moss of the rocks") can be extracted from Chondrus crispus (Irish Moss), and various species of Eucheuma (Japanese Seaweed), and probably other seaweeds as well. With little information to go on, you'll have to make up your own minds on this one. According to Rawmazing's latest post, Dr.Tobacman's concern with raw Irish moss is that it may cause inflammation, not as serious as extracted and processed carageenan, used in so many food products,(which may also be a carcinogen), but she believes there is enough evidence in her studies to cause concern.

Please do your own research on this ingredient. For now, I'm going to leave the previous post below for information purposes. Irish moss paste is an ingredient I've used successfully in many recipes, however, I've always stated that it was optional. There are alternatives, although, honestly, none of  them produce the fluffiness that Irish moss paste produces. Some alternatives are  ground chia, psylium husks powder and sunflower lecithin, as an emulsifier. Many of us will be looking for other alternatives as well. If you've discovered something that works for you, feel free to post in the Comments Section.

From Previous Article
Soaked Sea Moss

 When I began to research this peculiar looking      ingredient, I quickly realized it was more than just a substance to gel my mousse or increase the creaminess of pudding or ice cream. Irish moss does act as an emulsifier that enhances the body of your dish, but it also adds lather to shampoo, soap, and conditioner. It's an emollient that softens your skin, so use it alone or mixed with lotions. Add a small amount to to your favorite shampoo, and see what happens! Irish moss also has incredible healing properties, minerals, and other nutrients. (See more information posted below).

Yes, it's a bit intimidating at first...and pretty ugly! However, once you get past the initial observation of odor and texture..the transformation is amazing!

Where Can I Find This Ingredient?
Purchase Irish moss at Mountain Rose Herbs and Raw Food World.

How Do I Prepare Irish Moss Paste?
Grab a handful of moss and rinse, rinse rinse. It has an oceanic aroma to it which disappears after soaking and blending.

After rinsing and scrubbing with your fingers, or a little veggie brush, place moss in a glass jar, filled with water and let soak in refrigerator 6-12 hours. The moss is ready when it has a creamy white color and nearly double in size from its dry original state. . (Be sure to rinse at least twice, replacing with clean water, checking for any stones, sand, or impurities). When the sea moss is ready to use, it is practically odorless and tasteless.

Remove moss from the jar, and rinse again, (I use a sieve). Chop into small pieces. 

If you do not have enough time you may soak the Irish Moss in lukewarm water for a few hours only. However, it will lessen a little of its gelatinous effect and you should use a little more in your recipe. (Photo of soaked, un-chopped moss)

Using a high speed blender, add 2 cups of water, per 1 cup chopped moss, and blend, blend, scrape sides of blender, and blend some more. Stop a few minutes, so it doesn't get hot, and come back to it...and blend some more!!!

   Stick a rubber spatula into mixture, scooping out a small amount and rub between your fingers. If there is any grit, continue to blend until the mixture is smooth and silky between your fingers. 

When the consistency is completely smooth, refrigerate in a clean, covered, glass container until ready to use. It will set and thicken like jello. (It's great in smoothies, puddings, salad dressings and mousse).

How Do I Store Irish Moss?
Frozen "Irish"Sea  Mos Paste
Dry Irish Moss can stay up to a year in a cool dry place. If you have soaked more Irish moss than you need, you may keep it in the fridge and change the water every day and it will keep fresh up to 2 weeks. You may store the Irish moss paste in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If it smells funky, it probably is.  This is a nice idea when you frequently use Irish moss, and you have the paste ready. You can also FREEZE it, which makes it very convenient to use, and you always have it on hand when needed. Simply pour the mixture into ice cube trays, freeze, and store in an airtight bag or container.

So What Else Can I Do With This Stuff?
It's also a blast to WEAR! Irish moss paste has an aloe vera gel consistency and  I apply it to my face, rough elbows, and feet. Blend it with some fresh, peeled cucumber for a refreshing face mask.

Add about 1-2 tablespoons to your favorite shampoo and conditioner. WOOT! Feel how silky your hair is and if you have any scalp irritations or dandruff, this is supposed to help.

It's great for sunburn, irritations, psoriasis, eczema, etc.

Use as is, or add a couple of drops of essential oils too!

I've recently mixed it with lavender scented lotion, and a drop of peppermint essential oils and applied it to our feet for massage, and it was amazing!!!!

Give it a shot. It keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks...what you don't can wear! I usually keep two separate bowls of it, one for food, and one for ...everything else.

Here is a bunch of other information I've pulled from other sites: 
 "Raw Irish Moss is an excellent source of minerals. This almost-tasteless seaweed is loaded with life-enhancing nutrients such as sulphur compounds, protein, iodine, bromine, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, pectin, B-vitamins and vitamin C. Notably absent from a vegetarian diet, sulphur-containing amino acids, such as taurine, are abundant in Irish moss, more so than in any other type of seaweed!

It has been used to treat peptic and duodenal ulcers when used as a gelatinous substance and to inhibit arteriosclerosis. Irish moss is reported to be effective against, cancer and radiation poisoning (possibly because of the iodine content of Irish moss), it protects from obesity and cholesterol build up. Irish moss has a well documented anticoagulant effect on the blood, and clears up many bladder complaints. Irish Moss gives excellent sources of calcium, magnesium, sodium and iodine (essential to normal thyroid function).

It is used to increase the metabolic rate and give strengthen connective tissues, including the hair, skin and nails."

More Information:

"Used commercially, it is included in cosmetics as an emollient or skin softener in creams and lotions, because of its moisture absorbing qualities, and as a rinse for dry hair. Irish Moss is a stabilizing agent for the food industry in dairy products, desserts, salad dressings and sauces. It is used in the pharmaceutical industry to stabilize cod liver oil and toothpaste, and has a wide variety of other commercial uses in the textile, leather, brewing, printing (as an ink) and paint industries. Irish Moss provides a high mucilage content, sulphur compounds, protein, iodine, bromine, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, gel-forming polysaccharides (known as carragheenans), pectin, B-vitamins and vitamin C."

Beneficial Uses:

"Irish Moss is a demulcent that has a soothing effect on virtually all the mucous membranes throughout the body. This sweet, salty, mucilaginous herb has a softening effect on tissues and helps many respiratory problems including bronchitis and pneumonia. It is especially effective for pulmonary (lung) complaints with its ability to absorb liquid and eliminate it from the body. As an expectorant, it relieves dry, unproductive coughs, and the high mucilage content alleviates catarrh (inflammation) of the nasal passages and eases sore throat.

With regard to good digestion, Irish moss's demulcent properties soothe the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, and the high mucilage content helps to ease gastritis, dyspepsia, nausea, heartburn, indigestion and is also used to prevent vomiting.

Irish moss is rich in iodine content, supplying the nutrient through the intestinal tract, and it is highly important in supporting good thyroid gland health and relieving the many problems associated with poor thyroid function and iodine deficiency (goiter, fatigue, inability to tolerate cold, slow heart rate, low metabolism, poor skin and hair condition, etc.).

Among the many qualities of Irish moss, nutrition is one of them. It is an edible seaweed and a superior nutritive, and like all gifts from the sea, Irish moss carries all the positive qualities and rich elements that the oceans produce and has been used as a healthy and nutritional food that can help restore health in recovering invalids.

Irish moss is a mild and effective laxative by aiding in the formation of the stool and providing fiber that increases fecal bulk. At the same time its demulcent properties soothe inflamed tissues of the intestinal tract, providing help for intestinal disorders. In addition, Irish moss is said to absorb toxins from the bowel and draw radiation poison from the body.

Irish moss is thought to help reduce the appetite by virtue of its ability to absorb moisture, increasing its volume and filling the intestinal tract with a mucilaginous, bulking-type material, increasing the feeling of "fullness" and also aiding in the elimination process of waste through the gastrointestinal tract. The escalated metabolic rate caused by improved thyroid function (resulting from Irish moss's iodine content) helps to increase energy and burn fat and may be helpful in weight-loss regimens.

Because Irish moss contains blood-thinning properties and is considered an anticoagulant, early research has claimed that Irish moss may reduce high blood pressure and the risk of arteriosclerosis.

Irish moss has shown antibacterial activity and may be useful for kidney and bladder infection, and it has also demonstrated antibacterial activity against Streptococcus mutans. There is promising research that claims Irish moss possesses antiviral properties that may be effective against Influenza-B and mumps, among other viruses.

Used externally, Irish moss is a wonderful emollient that softens and soothes the skin and other exposed tissue. It eases sunburn, chapped skin, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and rashes. It is used to prevent premature aging when used topically for smoothing wrinkles on the skin, and the herb promotes a bright, healthy glow. "

In another article, I found this:
"When it comes into contact with rough and dry skin, Irish moss can help to rehydrate it, and leave the skin feeling silky and smooth. Irish moss is effective on a number of severe skin disorders, including eczema, psoriasis, bad sunburns, and rashes. This amazing seaweed is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and D, all of which play a role in nourishing the skin to make it healthy. Applying Irish moss to the skin, can help to enhance the natural moisture barrier of the skin. At the same time, it helps to block out harmful elements that can damage the skin.

Over time, the skin loses it’s elasticity. Irish moss contains vitamin K, which has been associated with keeping the skin’s elasticity intact. It can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and can diminish dark circles and bags under the eyes.

Irish moss not only helps the skin, it can help on the inside of the body as well. The seaweed can help protect against arteriosclerosis, hyper tension, and fat buildup. It can also help prevent the buildup of cholesterol, and protect against obesity. It helps to increase metabolism which can lead to the ability to burn off fat quicker. By helping to prevent these problems, Irish moss can help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Irish moss is an expectorant, meaning it can break up mucus and help clear out the lungs of any phlegm that builds up with a common cold. Because of the expectorant qualities, Irish moss helps to prevent a common cold from turning into pneumonia. Irish moss can treat other respiratory problems such as bronchitis.

Irish moss has been found to be very helpful with the recovery of radiation poisoning and cancer. This is due to the plant’s high iodine content. Iodine is difficult to come by, and is found mainly in table salt. People don’t get as much iodine in their diets as they should, so Irish moss is beneficial for that purpose alone. Along with iodine, Irish moss also contains calcium, sulfur, potassium, and vitamin E.

Other issues that Irish moss can help with include the following.

* Varicose veins
* Halitosis (bad breath)
* Dysentery
* Inflammation
* Problems with the urinary system
* Duodenal and peptic ulcers
* Strengthens connective tissues
* Strengthens hair, skin, and nail
* Swollen joints
* Thyroid conditions
* Glandular problems
* Tuberculosis
* Influenza
* Mumps viruses

The health benefits of Irish moss are plentiful, both for the outside of the body, as well as the inside. This seaweed can help you live a longer life by preventing diseases and warding off illnesses. It can also help you look and feel younger. Irish moss is easy to add into your diet. You can mix a little into your morning or afternoon smoothie and start reaping the rewards."

Irish moss is now thought to contain 15 of the 18 essential elements that make up the human body.

Purchase Here - Look for Irish Moss (not powder)


singerinkitchen said...

Great informative post. I have irish moss powder I have yet to use. I need to use it soon!!

Rawfully Tempting B. Kessler said...

Noelle, from what I've read, you cannot use the powder as a substitute for the paste. I'm not exactly sure what the powder is for. I'd have to do a little research on would obviously have some of the nutritional value, and may thicken a bit. I'm really not sure.

Let us know if you find anything out!!



kelli said...

GREAT post! loved the other ways to use irish moss gel - i've used it on my face but never thought to add it to my homemade shampoo! thanks for the wonderful ideas!

Rawfully Tempting B. Kessler said...

My pleasure kelli. I realized how intimidated I was to start using figured, I'd put all the info I could find in one place, along with my recipes from my blog, and encourage folks to give it a try.

Let me know how you like it in your shampoo. By the way..what kind of homemade shampoo do you use? I'd love to know..better yet...go to my GROUP on, called Rawfully Green Concoctions for Healing and Home - that would be a perfect place for that post, if you wanted to share.

Zucchini Breath said...

Great. I have a big bag of irish moss in my freezer. I made a pie once and it was good but pretty complicated.
I would like to try it in some cosmetic applications, including hair styling. Why not?
Thanks again! I appreciate you putting all this together and will pass the info on!

deertee said...

I have irish moss flakes, it is a lot darker the the translucent plant you have. I can't get all the
smell out, but when I blend it with water it becomes a gel. I'm going to add it to my smoothies and will make a dessert tomorrow
Thanks for all the info.

Rawfully Tempting B. Kessler said...

Awesome. Zucchini Breath, let us know how you like using it in cosmetic apps. Diann...let us know how the desserts work..I've read somewhere that the flakes are not the same as the actual moss, so I'd love to hear your experience with it.

Thanks everyone!

Zucchini Breath said...

I made mascara by putting a pinch of unsweetened cocoa in about an 1/8tsp Irish moss gel.
Put the gel & cocoa in a spoon, or on a card, mix well. Use a mascara brush to apply to your lashes. If it dries up add a little water and mix it up again. It should last a day or two at room temp, keep it covered to keep dust, etc out of it.

Yay. I never thought I would wear mascara again. I don't want to buy the plastic tube it comes in. Thank you :)

Rawfully Tempting B. Kessler said... that is original...chocolate lashes. LOL

You should come post that on my Group- Rawfully Green Concoctions for Healing and Home....feel free to come join...

you have to JOIN the site first, and then JOIN my GROUP...

pretty cool site too..

Thanks for the idea..pretty wild!

What if your eyes tear...or you cry..will it smear, or does it seal?

Anonymous said...

I had been arguing with my close friend on this issue for quite a while, base on your ideas prove that I am right, let me show him your webpage then I am sure it must make him buy me a drink, lol, thanks.

- Kris

Anonymous said...

It took me a long time to search on the web, only your site open up the fully details, bookmarked and thanks again.

- Kris

Kelly said...

Very helpful post, thanks so much!

June Melanson said...

I never heard of Irish Moss before but just saw it in a recipe. Where do you purchase this product?

Rawfully Tempting B. Kessler said...

June, I LOVE Irish moss paste. It really expands the possibilities for rich, yet light and creamy foods...please see the link above in "Where Can I Find Irish Moss?" There are other places that carry can google...but this is where I purchase mine. xoxo

Unknown said...

good info, but how to save and print this article? Thanks

Rawfully Tempting B. Kessler said...

Hey Zabeth - I am not sure. I've not been able to incorporate the PRINT function on these pages. You can copy and paste to a Word Doc and print it that way..?

Tamiko said...

Can you use Irish Moss c/s to create the paste? I'm new to this....thanks! :)

Rawfully Tempting B. Kessler said...

Tamiko..I don't know what c/s is. I did mention in the article that the powder does not work the same way, so if you are referring to the Irish Moss powder, I have no experience with it, but have read it does not do the same thing. Sorry I don't have more info on this. said...

Hi, I live in Trinidad and Tobago. This is available here in supermarkets already in the gel form, but also in its natural form with the seawater still on it. We use it to make what is known as a punch. It is roumored to be good for male vitality although I am yet to see a study done on this....

Unknown said...


How did your Irish Moss come out so white and creamy? I tried this, and mine is a brown color.

Rawfully Tempting B. Kessler said...

Be Ba make sure you are soaking and rinsing really well before blending. It also depends upon the seaweed you are starting with. I've seen others really grimy and dirty looking with lots of debris..soak overnight and scrub with veggie brush a couple of times in between...hope that helps!

regimicator said...

i have used the powder quite a bit and happy with it. you will lose weight, have very soft, smooth skin, my aging snap, crackles, and pops, are softened or eliminated and i have a bit more energy. of course i meditate quite a bit, changed my diet to non animals, no processed foods, nor dairy. so i am certain ALL contribute to my overall well being but, still think the seamoss is a good buy even in the powder form. as in ALL things, MODERATION is the key! peace!

Jean said...

If you look up Dr. Joanne Tobacman, you will find that she stated, after studying Irish Moss and carageenan for ten years, “When we tested Irish moss, we found that it also caused inflammation, similar to the effect of the derived carrageenan...."
In one of the articles above, it said that Irish Moss decreases inflammation but her studies show that it increases inflammation.

Rawfully Tempting said...

Thanks Jean, I reference Dr Tobacman several times in article above...thank you.

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