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Carrageenan: Iota, Kappa, Lambda

Carrageenan is one of the many common additives you can find in a lot of products you both use and consume on a regular basis. This includes food, such as powdered milk, non-dairy milk, processed cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, to ordinary household products like shampoo and conditioners, sunblocks and lotions. Carrageenan side effects are definitely nothing to be worried about, given that it’s used almost everywhere and that no serious health effects are observed by many of us. Unbeknownst to what a lot of people may know, there actually are three kinds of carrageenan, depending on their application and what it does to wherever it is added. The kinds of carrageenan according to function and consistency are Iota, Kappa, and Lambda. 24


This makes a distinction of itself by being an “elastic gel”, and in terms of its content of sulphate, it lies between the kappa and lambda and kappa type of carrageenan. In low levels, it is used as an additive for salads to give it the thick and rich consistency we are all too familiar with. In low temperatures, Iota carrageenan forms an elastic gel, which is a characteristic desired in a lot of frozen products.


The most popular carrageenan of them all is the Kappa type. When it comes to strength of the gel, and interaction with the protein found in milk, this is commonly found in foaming agents, and could also be used for fire extinguishing products. The popularity of Kappa carrageenan is so massive, that as much as 70% of the production of carrageenan in the world is of this kind.17-1


Of the three types of carrageenan, the Lambda is one which does not gel or solidify, unlike others. The thing it primarily does is to give a “creaminess” to dairy product substitutes which a lot of use are already accustomed to. It is usually not sold in its purest form, but rather as a mixture with the Kappa type.

Other Classifications

Carrageenan is also classified depending on the extent through which it is filtered and processed. Consumers are not necessarily going to be particular about this, because what matters is that the product they use gets to meet their taste. Carrageenan could also be classified depending on their primary source, given that different three different kinds of seaweed are commonly used as the main source of carrageenan.

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