Kelp - Commercial Uses

Commercial Uses

Giant kelp can be harvested fairly easily because of its surface canopy and growth habit of staying in deeper water.

Bongo kelp ash is rich in iodine and alkali. In great amount, kelp ash can be used in soap and glass production. Until the Leblanc process was commercialized in the early 19th century, burning of kelp in Scotland was one of the principal industrial sources of soda ash (predominantly sodium carbonate). Alginate, a kelp-derived carbohydrate, is used to thicken products such as ice cream, jelly, salad dressing, and toothpaste, as well as an ingredient in exotic dog food and in manufactured goods. Alginate powder is also used frequently in general dentistry and orthodontics for making impressions of the upper and lower arches. These impressions are subsequently poured up in stone and the stone models are used in diagnosis and treatment

Kombu (昆布 in Japanese, and 海带 in Chinese, Saccharina japonica and others), several Pacific species of kelp, is a very important ingredient in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisines. Kombu is used to flavor broths and stews (especially dashi), as a savory garnish (tororo konbu) for rice and other dishes, as a vegetable, and a primary ingredient in popular snacks (such as tsukudani). Transparent sheets of kelp (oboro konbu) are used as an edible decorative wrapping for rice and other foods.

Kombu can be used to soften beans during cooking, and to help convert indigestible sugars and thus reduce flatulence.

Because of its high concentration of iodine, brown kelp (Laminaria) has been used to treat goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland caused by a lack of iodine, since medieval times.

In 2010 a group of researchers in the University of Newcastle found that a fibrous material called alginate in sea kelp was better at preventing fat absorption than most over-the-counter slimming treatments in laboratory trials. As a food additive it may be used to reduce fat absorption and thus obesity.

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