Irish moss is actually a species of red algae that is commonly used as a food thickener and filler. Its use as a filler dates back to the potato famine in Ireland, when people used Irish moss to extend their food reserves. Its properties as a thickening agent are due to a mucilaginous substance called, carrageenan. Being rich in mucilage, many people find Irish moss to be an effective laxative. It is a significant source of iodine and sulphur. Irish moss is also used in brewing in order to obtain clearer wort. It allows proteins to coagulate and sink to the bottom where they can be removed. In cosmetics, Irish moss is used to soften skin. It also helps soothed chapped skin and sore throats.
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