National Geographic : 1954 Oct
565 J. Allan Cash Men Fork Seaweed to Feed a Factory on South Uist Island For ages past, Hebrides crofters have spread seaweed for fertilizer. In the 17th and 18th centuries ashes of the ma rine fodder proved a source of sodium carbonate, used in soap and glass, and of iodine. Seventy years ago a scientist discovered in seaweed a new acid called "alginic." Today its salts and derivatives-algi nates-go into soups and sauces, toothpastes and lotions, absorbent medical dress ings, and antiburn ointments. Experiments are under way to use metallic alginates in com mercially useful flameproof fabrics (page 566). This seaweed arrives at the factory air-dried. After further drying it is ground into coarse meal (right) and sent to the mainland for processing.