Nature is giving the coasts of the Mexican Caribbean a unique raw material: sargassum. If anything characterizes Mexicans is the enormous creativity and adaptability that they have. Therefore, it’s not surprising that some entrepreneurs and brands have used to good advantage the arrival of sargassum to create different kinds of products and innovations with it.
But, what can sargassum seaweed be used for?
Faced with this natural phenomenon, different industries and specialists have highlighted some of the benefits that sargassum has. For example, it contains alginic acid, which can be applied as a thickener and emulsifier in the food industry; it has cellulose and hemicellulose, which are raw materials of paper; it generates ethanol, one of the main compounds for biofuel; and it was discovered that its properties also make it an excellent fertilizer.
Knowing all this, Mexicans got their hands to work to take advantage of the sargassum that is arriving at the coasts, and turn it into eco-friendly products. Here are some examples of the most practical and creative uses of sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean.
Some of the products that are being made with sargassum are notebooks and paper that can also be used for packaging and crafts. It’s a friendly material, as it avoids the use of trees and gives a new life to this seaweed. Under this same line, cup and menu holders for restaurants are also produced with sargassum.
Cosmetic and skin care products
Natural cosmetics have an increasing presence in the market, and now Mexican entrepreneurs have begun some innovations in the area developing products made out of sargassum.
Hair strengthening treatments, as well as makeup, moisturizing creams and sunscreens are some of the products that are being produced.
According to exhaustive investigations around sargassum, it’s now known that the seaweed was widely used in the 17th century to combat joint pains and skin diseases. These benefits are very favorable for the cosmetic products that are now being made in Mexico with the algae.
The food and beverage industry is not getting behind in the use of sargassum. The first cocktail drink based on this seaweed has been created. It is the “pineapple gift”, whose name is a tribute to the Mayan culture that in ancient times offered a pineapple as a welcome gift to their guests.
In addition to sargassum, the cocktail has a pineapple base and includes other ingredients such as lemon juice, aquafaba, lavender and angostura bitters, and white tequila.
The algae that are used go through an elaborate process of cleaning and disinfection and blends with pineapple, honey, rosemary and anise.
Also, it’s good to mention that sargassum is rich in iodine, bromine, mineral salts and vitamins, and that also contains properties that benefit the absorption of fats.
Bricks for house construction
Probably this is one of the best uses that is being given to sargassum in the Caribbean.
Sargassum bricks are manufactured with the same technique as adobe bricks. The use of this seaweed can reduce the total cost of building homes by up to 50%.
This project has been created with the idea of helping the neediest people who for some reason, don’t have a house or theirs is in terrible conditions to live properly.
For some years now, around Tulum area, farmers’ families have been using sargassum to fertilize their crops. They take advantage of seaweed as a natural fertilizer and herbicide to improve the harvest of products such as corn, squash, chili and beans.
Mayan farmers have explained how to use sargassum seaweed as fertilizer: when they receive it in their field, they let it dry for two or three days in the sun, then wash it and leave it again for another day in the sun. Once clean, they spread the sargassum in the sowing area and cover it with a layer of sawdust. Afterward, the sun and the rain do the rest.
They claim that sargassum is much better than fertilizer sold in stores. Harvested products don’t lose their texture, flavor, aroma or properties that characterize them.
These are some of the most interesting uses of sargassum. Besides, with these actions, entrepreneurs and brands help the environment, because as they collect sargassum, they clean the coastal zone of the Mexican Caribbean.