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A water-soluble polysaccharide extracted from several species of red edible seaweeds such as Chondrus crispus. Carrageenan forms thermo-reversible gels that can change from gel to liquid with changing temperatures. It is used as an emulsifier and stabilizer in food products. Traditionally, marbled papers and fabrics were prepared by laying them on top of colors floating on the surface of a carrageenan mixture. The gels have also used as an adhesive in mounting Chinese paintings.

There are three main commercial classes of carrageenan:

  • Kappa forms strong, rigid gels in the presence of Potassium ions, and reacts with dairy proteins. It is sourced mainly from Kappaphycus alvarezii
  • Iota forms soft gels in the presence of Calcium ions. It is produced mainly from Eucheuma denticulatum
  • Lambda does not gel, and is used to thicken dairy products

Synonyms and Related Terms

3,6-anhydro-d-galactan; carragenano (Esp.); carragenina (It); carageenan; carrageen; carrageenin


  • CDH Fine Chemicals: MSDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in hot water, hot milk, and salted cold water.
  • Insoluble in 35% ethanol/water solution.
  • Most stable at pH 9.
  • CAS = 9000-07-1

Working Properties

  • Smooth and slippery with very little tack
  • Shrinks significantly upon drying

Resources and Citations