Monday, November 18, 2013

Loofahs do not come from the sea

I was browsing a women's magazine a few months ago and found this feature.

The caption reads "...the (brand name) loofah soap is a glycerin-based bar embedded with a natural sea sponge..." I ripped the page out of the magazine because I knew someday I would blog about it.

Sea sponges can be embedded in to soap, but the soap pictured? That probably is not a sea sponge. It looks like a typical piece of luffa, similar to what I use in my soaps. See?
Btw, I just added a ton more colors and scents. That's the subject of a later blog post, but I might as well mention it now.

Sometimes I see both luffa & sea sponges sold as vegan sea sponges, as if sea sponges were a vegetable of the sea. Nope. Luffas are, arguably, a vegan alternative to sea sponges, but to paraphrase one of my least favorite movies*, "Sea sponge, you keep using this word. I don't think it means what you think it means".

This is a sea sponge:
sea sponges by shira_gal. Used under creative commons license

This is a luffa/loofah:

Natural Loofah Sponge by pabadoo. Used under creative commons license.

Sea sponges are animals that have been removed from the sea and dehydrated. Definitely not vegan.
Stovepipe Sponge from Wikipedia
Luffas/Loofahs are gourds that have been dehydrated and had the skin removed.
Luffa gourd from Wikipedia
Sea sponges are, er, spongy, and hold a lot of water. They are soft on your skin.

Loofahs are kind of scratchy when dry, but soften up slightly when wet. They make a great exfoliating tool. When they dry they harden up again.

Sea sponges are irregular. They can some in all sizes or shapes, like the picture above.

 Luffas look basically the same, kind of like how different pumpkins are still recognizable as pumpkins. There is a stronger ring of fibrous material on the outside, and then it comes together in the middle. I admit it does look sea-like, but it is all vegetable.
Both can be broken apart and embedded in soap, but only one comes from the sea and only one is vegan.

*Yes, I know. You may proceed with stripping me of my nerd cred.


  1. Thanks, I always wondered what Loofahs were (except not enough to google 'em).
    Mostly writing re: Geek Cred though.
    While an oft loved movie, if you look at how the women are treated in it, you can't help but be disappointed or angry. Really Rob Reiner? REALLY? Ugh.

    1. You are welcome! :) I gave it a try. I really did. I get why it has some small appeal, but overall? Meh. Not my thing.

  2. I knew that, but thank you for setting the record straight for those who did not.

  3. Fascinating. I'd never given it much thought before, but certainly didn't know the difference.


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