Commercially produced ice cream, salad dressing, beer, jelly beans, latex paint, penicillin suspensions, paper, textiles, toothpaste, ceramics, and floor polish today all share a common ingredient, algin, produced by the giant kelps and other brown algae. It is now used in so many products that one might wonder how the world used to get along without it (Table 18.2).

Algin has the unique capacity to regulate water "behavior" in a wide variety of products. It can, for example, control the development of ice crystals in frozen foods, regulate the penetration of water into a porous surface, and generally stabilize any kind of suspension, such as an ordinary milkshake or other thick fluid containing water. It is produced by several kinds of seaweeds, but a major source is the giant kelp found in the cooler ocean waters of the world, usually just offshore where there are strong currents (see Fig. 18.16).

Chapter 18

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