It was only recently that I stumbled upon Irish Sea Moss, courtesy of Cindy T., of Ancient Treasures Tea & Herb Depot, in Tyler, Texas. When she sent over a photo of her recent shipment from St. Lucia, I was struck by the sheer amount of it and the range of colors represented. What a beautiful example of nature, unknown to me before now! By the time I finished watching the “how-to” videos of Mary, a native of St. Lucia, where she walked through the process of transforming the raw sea moss into a gel, I was intensely intrigued. What is this stunning seaweed? Why do I feel drawn to her like she’s calling my name from the deep ocean waters?
I was lucky enough to sync up on a Zoom call with Cindy (and Dona) soon after this personal discovery, where they taught me all sorts of things about sea moss. You can see it here. I have also listed additional resources below.
Our discussion convinced me to order a pound of St. Lucia Sea Moss (and a variety of other goodies that included fresh coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, blue teas, chamomile, as well as a delicious sounding Golden Milk and even more….
To say our purchases were shipped with love and gratitude is an understatement. Each item was carefully wrapped for shipping with reused materials and preciously decorated with ribbons, charms, and sweet notes of thanks.
Now having the sea moss, I rewatched the instructional videos Cindy sent me and I was ready to dive into the process for myself. Since it has always been an interest of mine to learn more about natural ways to keep ourselves healthy (and since I know I am not alone in this endeavor), I decided to share my stories here as I build on my own herbal knowledge and apothecary wisdom.
I started on my journey one evening with one of the sealed half pound packages of the St. Lucian Sea Moss. I made the strategic choice to start with a smaller amount so in case of catastrophe striking , I would still have backup sea moss to work with. Murphy’s Law bedamned!
Once unpackaged, you can see all the salt, which acts as a preservative.
The first steps focused on removing all the salt from the moss. Grabbing a large bowl and spatula, I placed the dry sea moss into the bowl and filled it with cool tap water until the sea moss was completely submerged.
As I stirred the moss around in the bowl, the initial ball-like shape of the seaweed began to expand as the water became brinier and brinier. The smell of the sea was intoxicating and I found myself closing my eyes with my nose to the bowl, imagining the luxurious beaches of St. Lucia.
Next, I drained the water, gave the sea moss a rinse in the strainer, and placed it back into the bowl for a second wash. Again, I filled the bowl until the moss was fully underwater. I was surprised how much clearer the water was after that initial wash.
I repeated the process of stirring the moss around in the bowl, feeling the seaweed soften and expand, and watched as the colors of the rainbow became more apparent. Once I was satisfied that I had gotten the most out of this cycle, I moved to the strainer and poured the sea moss in. Another rinse in the strainer and back into the bowl. By the third repetition, the smell of ocean was gone, as was any visible salt in the water. A helpful tip from Mary’s instructions: do a small taste test of the water. If it doesn’t have any saltiness to it, you’ve washed your moss appropriately!
I proceeded with the final cycle of stirring the seaweed a bit more, pouring it into the strainer and back into the bowl. I filled the container with fresh water one last time and paused to take a closer look at my new exotic sea friend.
Now that I know my moss is free of salt, it is time for her to soak overnight. I say goodnight and cover the bowl with saran wrap. All of these aforementioned steps took me 30 minutes total. Sea you in the morning!
Around 11:00am the next day, I removed the covering to see a bowl full of plump, colorful and lush sea moss ready for the liquefication phase.
Thanks to Cindy, I knew to not throw out the sea moss water. Instead, I poured the liquid into measuring cups and added some to several personal care items already in my daily rotation:
- Added to my organic flower essence leave-in conditioner to use as a daily spritz for my curly hair (which tends towards dryness)
- Combined with my rose water toner to use as a splash for my face and neck
- By itself in a spray bottle to use on my body
Now it’s time to embark on the break down process. For this stage, I gathered a large pot, one gallon of fresh spring water, tongs, a wide spatula with holes and kitchen scissors. Adjusting the amount of water will affect the yield and consistency of your gel: more water, less viscosity, and vice versa. It all depends on personal preference. I used a gallon of water this initial time to make it easy to determine whether I wanted to use more or less on following iterations.
Begin heating up the spring water and add in the sea moss. The water temperature should not exceed 200 degrees Fahrenheit at anytime. You do not want to boil the sea moss. Since I have a gas stove, I used a meat thermometer in the water to keep an eye on the temperature.
Pro tip: I added the sea moss into the pot a little early. Don’t do that. 🙂 It is much easier to get the water temperature up to around 150 degrees before adding in the sea moss. Either way works – it just takes a little longer to get the water to temperature with the sea moss in the pot already.
A quick tip: you will see that the sea moss melts down easily except for the thicker parts, namely the “spine” of the moss. Use your kitchen shears to cut up these thicker parts into smaller bits and pieces before adding the sea moss to the pot.
It takes about 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees to melt down the sea moss. Again, it is a matter of preference here. Some people like their gel with bits and pieces of sea moss in it; others like it silky smooth. As it sits in the pot, the moss gets stickier and gelatinous (another good reason to chop up the thicker parts before putting them in the pot).
I stirred the sea moss in the pot pretty regularly as it cooked down. The moss slowly dissipates and enriches the water with color, with fewer and fewer strands of sea moss catching on the spatula as it happens.
At this point, after approximately 20 minutes, I turned off the heat and let the water cool down while I tinkered around in my jar drawer to find suitable reusable containers for the refrigeration stage. Once I collected my various jars of miscellaneous sizes, I used a measuring cup to pour the warm, gooey liquid into them.
I was pleasantly surprised with my large bounty!
I sealed up the jars nice and tight and put them in the fridge to cool and solidify. I learned that sea moss gel last for quite a while in the fridge, as long as the containers are air tight.
Now that the sea moss gel is made, the adventure begins!! I will be trying out different ways of incorporating it into my day-to-day regimens, in both my dietary AND hair/skin routines. As I learn, I will add these different recipes & modalities into the compilation of an AEA Apothecary Recipe Box of sorts…
There are many healthy benefits reaped by including Irish sea moss in your routine, which range from thyroid health, heart health, blood sugar maintenance, and cancer risk reduction. I encourage everyone to explore and experience for yourselves. After all, our bodies are talking to us all the time – it is just a matter of listening!!
More apothecary adventures to follow… Stay tuned!