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Types Of Sea Moss

Irish Sea moss is currently in the spotlight.

Just about two years ago famous celebrities like Kim Kardashian advertised the benefits of Irish Sea moss (1) and from there thousands of media companies, skincare brands, and cooking channels have been promoting Irish Sea moss in their daily life.

Whenever you are purchasing sea moss make sure that you are purchasing the product from an authentic source since there are many companies that are selling fake sea moss just to make quick money (2)

In this guide, we will take a tour of knowing any difference between Irish moss vs regular sea moss.

Based on the evaluation, you can choose which one is the best for you and spend your funds buying an authentic product.

2 main types of sea moss

Table of Contents

What Are The Two Different Types Of Sea Moss?

Sea moss is an umbrella term for various species of seaweed (some call it algae). So it isn’t technically a moss, but that is the generic term for it.

Sea stands the expanse of saltwater that covers most of the earth’s surface and surrounds its landmasses.

and Moss means a small flowerless green plant that lacks true roots, growing in damp habitats and reproducing by means of spores released from stalked capsules.

According to the research, there are thousands of species in the ocean.

As said, there are mainly 2 types of sea moss or I’d rather say two types of species of sea moss.

They are known as:

  1. Genus Gracilaria (Jamaican Moss/Jamaican Sea Moss)
  2. Chondrus Crispus (Irish Moss/Irish Sea Moss)

But out of all the thousand species, why are we focusing only on these two?

Well, these two species of seaweed are famous in the market at the moment.

The Jamaican sea moss color is red and is responsible for 80% of the world’s agar production (4).

On the contrary, the color of wild Irish Sea moss is purple and is responsible for the production of omega 3 fatty acid which helps to keep a healthy heart (5)

What Is Genus Gracilaria?

Genus Gracilaria is also known as Jamaican Moss or Jamaican Sea Moss.

It’s a species of seaweed that belongs to the Gracilariaceae family usually found in warmer waters.

Gracilaria, a genus of red algae from the Pacific Coast can be found along with other varieties.

Golden Genus Gracilaria

There are approximately 190 Gracilaria species.

And yet only about two dozen are used as food or medicine by humans.

Gracilaria provides more than 80% of the world’s agar supply, which is a gel-forming polysaccharide used in foods, cosmetics, and to make agar plates for growing bacteria in research labs.

Gracilaria provides more than 80% of the world's agar supply.

For people who do not know who Dr Sebi is, here’s a quick summary of the self-proclaimed healer and doctor.

Alfredo Darrington Bowman (26 November 1933 – 6 August 2016), better known as Dr Sebi, was a self-proclaimed Honduran herbalist and healer who also practised in the United States in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Doctor Sebi
Doctor Sebi

Now that being said, why do I have to mention Dr Sebi here?

It’s because sea moss is a product that has been widely consumed using his name. There is a full video of sea moss on YouTube of him clearly stating the difference between sea moss and Irish moss.

You can watch the whole video at your convenience.

But now coming back to the main point, in the video Dr Sebi clearly states the difference between both of the sea moss as

Chondrus Crispus as Irish moss and Genus Gracilaria as Jamaican Moss.

So now we clearly know that these are both in fact sea moss but of a different species.

Genus Gracilaria as Jamaican Sea Moss or Jamaican Moss

Where does Genus Gracilaria grow?

And hence, the new Irish moss and Jamaican sea moss will have different conditions for their growth.

Genus Gracilaria is native to the Caribbean, North Atlantic, West Atlantic coast of Africa, specifically in St Lucia, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

Genus Gracilaria can grow on rocks as well as ropes. If it is farmed in the ocean or a pool, it is normally cultivated on ropes.

The Irish immigrants in Jamaica once adopted a Gracilaria species for their new Irish Moss.

And they started calling it as Purple Irish Moss. But again because of the confusion, Purple Irish Moss and the real Irish Moss are not the same.

Purple Jamaican Moss and the Real Irish Moss are not the same

What does Genus Gracilaria look like?

Genus Gracilaria can be found in many varieties.

They are usually less than 2 feet in length and grow as thick stripes with blade-like fronds attached to them.

golden sea moss in a bowl

Popularly they are found in Golden and Purple colours.

They can also be found in various colours, such as green, yellow and brown.

As we discussed in the above paragraph, people mistakenly refer the Genus Gracilaria sea moss as Purple sea moss or Jamaican purple sea moss because of the colour.

Which is of course not true and you clearly know it now.

It is important to know that both Genus Gracilaria and Chondrus Crispus are found in varying colours so as to avoid confusion.

What Is The Difference Between Pool Farmed & Ocean Farmed Sea Moss?

Ocean farmed Jamaican sea moss has the same difference as ocean and pool farmed oysters.

But hey, you’d be wondering why did I give this sort of analogy? Well because oyster aquaculture is a type of farming in which aquatic animals or plants are raised from seed stock to harvest, usually under controlled conditions.

Pool grown sea moss grows under the same conditions. Pool grown sea moss is also referred to as fake sea moss.

Sea moss in a tub
Pool farmed sea moss

The goal of these farms is to provide those who visit with the experience of being immersed in the ocean.

But it’s obvious they can’t totally replicate all of the ocean’s properties.

The sea moss produced in saltwater or in brine pools is much denser and contains more mucilage than the natural type.

Most raw sea moss contains a mixture of all three variations, but this changes the makeup of the algae and lowers its nutritional content.

Pool grown sea moss is lighter in colour and larger in size than natural sea moss. It’s salty, and it’s mineral-deficient. Some people say it smells like chemicals or chlorine.

Pool grown sea moss is lighter in colour and larger in size.

Ocean farmed sea moss
Ocean farmed sea moss

Ocean farmed sea moss is usually harvested within a year as opposed to Pool Farmed which can be up to two years before it’s ready for harvesting.

Both types of farms have their own benefits and disadvantages, some that are more damaging than others.

It mostly depends on who you purchase from, whether it’s a reseller or the company that harvests.

Today, farming is needed to help satisfy the increasing demand for a product (once it becomes commercialised) this can prevent the depletion of sea resources which part of an environmental disturbance.

Wild plants are better than regular plants. As they can still be healthy if they are grown in clean water.

You might have heard about 100% Wildcrafted Sea Moss or 100% Wildcrafted Irish Moss.

But what is Wildcrafted sea moss?

To prevent human interference, sea moss is harvested directly from its natural habitat.

Historically harvesters took only select parts of a plant so that it can grow and support its ecosystem.
Hence, the term Wildcrafted sea moss.

Ocean farmed sea moss is harvested within a year compared to Pool farmed sea moss.

Which Sea Moss Is Better? Powdered Or Gel?

If you’re looking for a quick fix, then powdered sea moss is better than gel.

Powdered Jamaican sea moss can be taken as capsules or mixed with water to make it into a drink.

It’s also more economical and convenient in terms of storage space requirements due to its dry form.

In contrast, the difference between gel and powdered Jamaican sea moss is that gel can be swallowed in one gulp whereas the difference between powder and the raw product has to dissolve first.

Sea moss powder in a big white spoon
Sea moss powder

The difference between these types of Jamaican sea moss is a matter of personal preference because both are equally nutritious with their own set of benefits depending on what it would serve you best for.

Both sea moss powder and sea moss gel are equally nutritious.

Multiple jars filled with Jamaican sea moss gel
Jamaican moss gel

If it is raw, unpasteurized or unenriched with synthetic vitamins and minerals, then it should be consumed in its natural form.
This preserves all of the nutrients found in the Jamaican sea moss.

If it is raw, unpasteurized or unenriched with synthetic vitamins and minerals, then consume in it's natural form.

What Are The Advantages of Genus Gracilaria Sea Moss?

Genus Gracilaria Sea Moss (Jamaican Moss) has a variety of benefits and is naturally rich in minerals.

It is naturally rich in vitamins and minerals which are of course beneficial for the human body.

About 92 out of possible 110 nutrients are found.

Some of the benefits are as follows:

– Irish moss is used for ice cream because it increases the thickness, richness, and flavor – replaces eggs (in recipes) that have no fat or cholesterol

– It is also widely used as a natural thickening agent.

– Helps in digestion because it is dietary fiber.

– Improves thyroid health

– Promotes healthy skin

If I go on listing the wide range of benefits, it would turn out a very long blog post.

This is why I suggest you read my blog on 9 Unbelievable benefits of sea moss.

Genus Gracilaria is a natural source of nutrients

What Are The Disadvantages Of Genus Gracilaria Sea Moss?

The major disadvantage of Genus Gracilaria is that it doesn’t have a very long shelf life.

This means you cannot store them for a long period of time.

That is why while purchasing Jamaican sea moss, it is very important that you know the advantages as well as the disadvantages of this particular sea moss.

Genus Gracilaria sea moss shouldn’t be rushed to achieve its growth. Unfortunately, some businesses don’t really care about it.

They are resorting to inorganic means to grow this type of sea moss.

Some of the other notable side effects that have been seen are:

  • Excessive use of sea moss can trigger hyperthyroidism.
  • Burning sensation in throat and stomach.
  • Redness of the skin. 

Speeding up the production process degrades the quality of Jamaican moss.

What Is Chondrus Crispus?

Chondrus Crispus, commonly called Irish Moss or Carrageenan or even Irish sea moss, are tropical seaweeds that grow on the coasts of Ireland and Scotland in shallow waters.

Irish moss seaweed is rare, dark purple and has flat fan leaves.

But again it is important to know that Purple Sea moss commonly known as Jamaican Sea Moss is not the same as Irish moss.

Irish moss, a tufted seaweed with branching fanlike fronds from 5 to 25 cm (2 to 10 inches) long

Purple Chondrus crispus in a white bowl

It is greenish-yellow when wet and dark purple when dried.

When sun-dried and bleached it has a yellowish translucent horn-like consistency.

They’re an important ingredient for making many foods including ice cream because it increases the thickness of dairy products while also giving them a rich texture and creamy taste.

Irish moss is also referred to as the red seaweed by most of the top sources in this industry.

This is even backed by Dr Sebi. You can check the video wherein he says Sea moss is scientifically known as Chondrus Crispus.

Chondrus Crispus is Irish moss and is found in varying colours.

The Story Behind Irish Moss

It is important to dig deeper and deeper to completely understand everything about Irish moss.

Have you heard about the Irish potato famine? Because Irish moss is directly related to this tragic incident that happened many many years ago.

A black & white portrait of Irish famine

Irish sea moss is a type of seaweed or a sea moss species that we can thank for saving Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine. In 1845, when food was scarce in Ireland and millions of Irish people were dying from disease-related malnutrition, it just so happened that an ocean-based product became abundant due to heavy harvesting.

It looked like green threads with little black dots on them submerged underwater; thus it gave birth to tropical seaweed called “Irish Moss” aka Irish Sea moss because there wasn’t much else going on at this time!

A Seaweed Called “The Saving Grace”

Isn’t it amazing that a food that was once considered “survival food” and only consumed during times of famine is now regarded as a superfood powerhouse?

Where does Chondrus Crispus grow?

Irish sea moss grows primarily where there is a lot of cold water and strong currents.

Irish moss prefers cooler water and thrives best in temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

A map showing global distribution of chondrus crispus
Global Distribution map of sea moss

It’s harvested from the coasts of Ireland, Scotland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway as well as northern New England (especially Maine) and also in so many regions surrounding the British isles.

Irish sea moss usually grows in colder regions.

Irish moss prefers cooler water and thrives best in temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 F.

How Does Chondrus Crispus Grow?

Harvesting Irish Seaweed needs to happen at low tide when seaweed dries out and becomes brittle enough to break off from the rocks.

Irish sea moss is not a farmed seaweed. Mainly because it doesn’t grow on a rope-like Jamaican sea moss.

That’s why companies have sea moss sourced from various regions as the supply is very limited.

Irish moss is not a farmed seaweed.

Is Irish Moss The Same As Carrageenan?

I have seen Irish moss catching a lot of criticism regarding Carrageenan.

Irish moss consists of a bioactive polysaccharide known as Carrageenan. Carrageenans are a family of seaweeds with high levels of galactose and agar-agar which gives it its jelly-like consistency. It is used as a natural thickener in ice creams and other dairy products.


The carrageenan extracted directly from various tropical seaweeds using industrial processes is bad for health.

The carrageenan extract found in food has, according to limited studies, been linked to inflammation and other diseases.

The problems that stem from this inflammation can lead one to experience irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis.

The carrageenan in Chondrus Crispus is different from typical carrageenan. Chondrus Crispus contains kappa carrageenan as well as a third form known as lambda.

So this should absolutely make it clear about the confusion related to carrageenan.

The carrageenan in Chondrus Crispus is different from typical carrageenan.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Chondrus Crispus Sea Moss?

Irish sea moss is rare and it is hard to acquire and hence it is more expensive.

It takes time to harvest. Usually, people harvest it and use it throughout the year.

A half-pound of this tropical seaweed can possibly cost up to $50. But, yet again, that’s a LOT of Chondrus Crispus, and it should last you at least 6 months, if not longer.

Also, Chondrus Crispus has a stronger smell than Genus Gracilaria.

One may compare the smells of both because they are so different but will find that while one type smells strong, it is also mild compared to the other.

Irish moss is rare and it is hard to acquire and hence more expensive.

Where To Buy High-Quality Jamaican Moss

From where to buy sea moss or Jamaican Sea moss, whatever name you’d want to give it–admittedly it’s one of the toughest questions for anyone who wants to buy sea moss.

The fear of quality and also the side effects of consuming sea moss makes you wonder whether you should buy it in the first place.

Well, you can buy high-quality Irish moss here at Sea Moss Botanicals.

Irish moss packet at Sea Moss Botanicals
Buy Irish moss at Sea Moss Botanicals

At Sea Moss Botanicals, the seaweeds are first picked up from the rocky shores which are 100% organic.

We don’t believe in adulterated products and the processes behind them just to make quick bucks.

Because we believe for any company, customer satisfaction should be of the utmost importance and well, of course, health should be the first priority.

Then they are carefully dried and packed in easy to carry package bags.

Our Raw Irish sea moss contains all 92 out of the possible 110 minerals, helps in the nourishment of your skin, facilitates healthy hair and so much more.

When it comes to materials, convenience, and dependability, no compromises can be made.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Sea Moss Products?

We have finally made it! By now I believe your doubts are fully cleared about most sea mosses.

You can typically buy sea moss and prepare sea moss gel from it and use it for a month or two depending on the quantity.

But there are more variety of sea moss products.

Sea moss flakes, dried sea moss which you can consume directly, sea moss in powder form and sea moss pills are some of them.

Sea moss flakes with a white background behind
Sea moss flakes
sea moss pills
Sea moss pills

From wherever you are buying your sea moss, it will always come in a dehydrated form. (naturally sun dehydrated).

If the powders, powdered capsules or flakes come from sun-soaked hay (or dehydrated to mimic the sun and not go over 118 degrees Fahrenheit), there is absolutely zero problems in consuming them.

To cut it short for you, you should consume sea moss products if they are completely dehydrated.

Look out for quality guidelines provided by the company that is selling sea moss products.

Which Sea Moss Should You Buy?

This is really very tough to decide. Before being acquired by Sea Moss Botanicals, I have tried sea moss products from so many buyers.

And it’s safe to say that you can use whichever type of sea moss you want to.

It’s hard to pick a winner but if I had to pick my personal favourite?

A jar filled with sea moss gel

Well, it’s Irish moss. Mainly because I prefer quality over quantity and besides I love consuming sea moss gel which has drastically improved my immune system.

But don’t just go on my word. Try it, test it and then conclude.

Choose whichever works the best for you.

Final Verdict On Different Sea Moss Types

There are two types of seaweed in the market: Irish sea moss and Jamaican sea moss.

Purple seaweed is not always an Irish seaweed.

What we need to look at when buying is not the color, because seaweeds have a variety of colors, instead look at the leaves.

Fan-like means Irish seaweed, blade-like means Jamaican sea moss.

Look out for items that are created naturally and don’t contain any artificial ingredients.

This will help you get the most from sea moss’s benefits.

It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to discuss these 2 main types of sea moss, and I hope that it’s been informative!

If you enjoyed reading about sea moss types as much as I did in compiling all the information.

Then please let me know by commenting below or sharing this article on social media.

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