Sea water gel

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Salts and minerals from sea water have traditionally been used as ingredients in both food and cosmetics. The compounds can be enriched in different ways: By drying, by membrane concentration, or by electrolysis. The main advantage of electrolysis as a production method is its versatility with respect to reduction or oxidation of specific elements. This crude product seems to have properties as ingredient in cosmetics and skin care products.

History[edit]

An employee at a fish filleting facility located in Sunnmøre, Norway, got aware of a gel deposit that formed on electronic equipment submerged in seawater [1]. It was accidentally discovered that this gel, when applied to wounded hands, would cure scratches and wounds from the filleting knives. Such injuries most often had a long healing time due to bacterial infections. When the gel was applied to a wound it would stop infections, and the healing time was dramatically lowered. This event sparked the forming of an industry set forth to produce this gel and to perform research to find out whether its active compounds could be isolated. The gel is currently produced in Rogaland, Norway.

Composition[edit]

Sea water contains by weight 1.08 percent sodium and 0.129 percent magnesium. The chloride salts of these elements have during centuries been produced from sea water by drying. Dried sea water gel is a blend of oxides, hydroxides and salts of the main elements from sea water. These compounds are recovered by electric generated deposition. The deposit has a low solubility in sea water. In this way an elemental composition has been obtained that qualitatively differ from that found in sea water in the sense that magnesium is more enriched than sodium, and the total share of chloride salts is low [2]. The explanation seems to be that magnesium is enriched both as a hydroxide and as a chloride salt, whereas sodium only is present as the chloride salt. The overall main chemical reactions for the processing of the gel are:

Mg2+ + 2H2O → Mg(OH)2(s) + 2H+

Mg(OH)2(s) → MgO(s) + H2O

Na+ + Cl → NaCl(s)

In addition the process gives some minor compounds based on the elements potassium and silicon. In spite of a certain salt content, the product has a limited electrical conductivity. This is mainly due to the high content of magnesium oxide. This compound has for years been used as insulator in industrial cables. The high content of hydroxides and oxides in the processed seawater gel is responsible for the high pH of a water solution of the product (pH 9-10).

Usage[edit]

Suspension of magnesium hydroxide in water has been called milk of magnesia [3]. Such products have been used in antacids and laxatives. In addition, magnesium hydroxide is a composite of antiperspirant underarm deodorants. Milk of magnesia has traditionally been used against eczema and Dandruff. The mechanisms in this treatment are not known. Seawater gel in different formulations has during the five last years been used by people suffering from Dandruff, atopic eczema, psoriasis, acnes, minor cuts and sores. The majority of users have reported positive effects, e.g. less inflammation, itching/irritation, Dandruff and eczema, together with smoother skin [4] and improved healing of cuts. No scientific study has yet supported these observations. However, organizations like Norsk psoriasis forbund recommend the use of seawater gels.

References[edit]

  1. Funn i sjøen gir håp
  2. Abundances of the elements (data page)
  3. Magnesium hydroxide
  4. Is Milk of Magnesia a Cure for Oily Skin?