Why You Should Give Natural Sea Sponges A Try
Some weeks ago I received a natural sea sponge as a gift and was kind of confused. Of course I know they’re used for and have seen them around for years but still didn’t have an understanding about them, but I was curious to find out more about natural sea sponges. After using it I really fell in love. It’s so soft yet durable and dries super fast (about an hour). I have extremely dry sensitive skin so I like experimenting with body products and accessories. I searched on Instagram and found lots of indie brands and boutiques retailing the slightly usual sea sponges but I came across one account that truly stood out from others; the Tropical Sea Sponges account. They has videos of a diver (who I now know is Zacharias Pantas) substantially harvesting these usual sponges from the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico. They’re completely black when harvested, which lead to even more curiosity because they’re bright yellow once sold. I even love how engaging they are with they customers on social media and was more than happy to help share their knowledge. These sponges are so soft you can use them on baby’s delicate skin! It really does feel like a spa treatment.
Krissy: There are thousands of species of sponges but it looks like the most popular ones are sheep’s wool, silk, and yellow. Can you explain the difference between the 3?
Zacharias of Tropical Sea Sponges: I would love to explain the difference between these natural sponges. When I’m walking on the sea floor the yellow sponge catches my eye when I notice it’s round shape, as I get closer it’s rusty to yellow color becomes vivid. Once this sponge is processed it is soft yet mildly abrasive. Used mostly as a commercial sponge. Washing dishes, cars, animals and other household uses. The silk sponge is a specific target because I only harvest these pearl white sponge in shallow water. Which explains its dense growth.(lots of light at this depth) Once processed this becomes one of the softest sponges available! Mainly used for bath and facial sponge. But none are like the wool. I can spot them from a long ways off… the prize. Black as coal, high vents and extremely hardy. This sponge is soft enough for any bath application. Plus it has the longest shelf life. Treated properly you can enjoy this sponge for years and years!
K: When and how are natural sea sponges harvested? What’s the process like from harvest to consumer?
TSS: We generally dive for sponges in the summer months although depending on how bad you need them, our season can run into spring and fall depending on weather patterns. But almost never in winter. Harsh conditions won’t allow it. Greeks immigrant perfected live diving (boat follows diver, no anchor) and sponge curing methods. Not much has changed other than the modern boats and diving technology which eliminated the traditional hard hat diving. Also about thirty years ago divers found out you could cut a sponge from its rock instead of tearing it away with a hook giving it a perfect base for re-growth, making it very sustainable for the future. Today’s methods can be seen on a video we made off Florida’s gulf coast. natural sea sponges being harvested. After the first week the sponge will be at a skeleton-like state, or in there raw form. Then they will then be sorted and graded, cut and clipped, followed by a diluted acid bath that will dissolve and bits and pieces of shell or rock without changing anything about the sponge.
K: Do you ever see fake sea sponges on the market? How can a consumer tell if they’re buying the real deal?
TSS: Synthetic sponges can be easily spotted due to there consistent pattern. Natural sea sponge are unique in every way. No two will ever look the same. Natural sponges will also dry 100% within a couple hours without ringing them out as long as they are put somewhere where the water can run out instead of sitting at the base, eliminating any odors that occurs when synthetic sponges hold water and create bacteria at the same time. Sea sponges have great anti-microbial property’s. Making it more beneficial than synthetic.
K: What are your future plans for Tropical Sea Sponges?
TSS: Our plans are to continue to “farm” our beautiful reefs to ensure future stocks of Rock Island sponges and to spread the word of this natural alternative
Where to buy Tropical Sea Sponges: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TropicalSeaSponges
Follow Tropical Sea Sponges on Instagram: https://instagram.com/tropicalseasponges/