The Wonders of Alginic Acid

After learning of a new acid in class; I figured I would praise the amazing features that this compound holds. It is called Alginic acid and it is primarily found in brown seaweed (Phaeophyceae) and is what gives this seaweed strength and flexibility.

This is the structure

Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of Alginic acid

  • Alginate was first isolated by E.C.C Stanford in 1883. He discovered that alkali salts such as potassium and calcium alginate produced a viscous and aqueous solution at low levels.
  • Alginate is part of a family called hydrocolloids; hydrocolloids are substances which form gels in the presence of water.
  • Sodium Alginate: is used in foods as a stabilizer for ice cream, yogurt, cream, and cheese. It is also used in the food industry as a thickener, emulsifier for salad dressings, pudding, tomato juice, and jam.

Some cool applications may include:

Food spherification


  • In order to make spheres of this sort; you must first make a mixture of sodium alginate and your desired substance (like the flavors above). Then simply add droplets from your desired substance into a pool of calcium chloride(direct method). For more information regarding this process watch this  video
  • The spherification process works due to the sodium alginate coming in contact with divalent ions, of calcium. In result gel forms as sodium ions exchange with calcium ions and polymers become cross-linked.
  • When sodium alginate is used without calcium the effects are as a shear thinning thickener and this can be useful in thickening pie fillings as well as being a stabilizer in water in oil emulsions.(e.g salad dressing, cream)

Alginate wound dressings (hydrogels)


  • Facilitates wound healing
  • Maintains a physiologically moist microenvironment
  • Minimizes bacterial infections at wound sites

Polynesian Sauce 


  • You can even find alginate in Polynesian sauce from Chick-fil-A, HOPEFULLY, you get the point. Alginate has a variety of applications and ways of being used!

Hopefully, after this short article, you are more aware of the effects that alginate can have on the food and pharmaceutical industry. It seems mother nature has an everlasting list of amazing goods.


“Food+spherification.” Google Search. Google, n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.

“Sauces and Dressings.” Chick-fil-A. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.

Augst, Alexander D., Hyun Joon Kong, and David J. Mooney. “Alginate Hydrogels as Biomaterials.” Macromolecular Bioscience 6.8 (2006): 623-33. Web.

The seaweed site: information on marine algae. [Internet]. Galway, Ireland: [Accessed 2017 April 22]. Available from

Dry Powder Alginates | Sodium Alginate Suppliers. In: SNP Inc. Accessed 23 Apr 2017


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