Tag: Sea Sponges

Sponge and Chamois News and Issues

Below is a list of sponge and chamois news and issues related articles. These articles relate to our products, industry and interests. We hope you find them as interesting and informative as we do.


09/2017 –  Tarpon Springs sponge company goes back to family roots

Acme Sponge and Chamois Co. in Tarpon Springs has sold its chamois business to Hopkins Manufacturing Corp…Acme will continue to operate its natural and synthetic sponge business as The Acme Sponge Company, which was not part of the transaction, a press release said.

“The chamois business was almost completely automotive in nature while the sponge business spans bath, cosmetic, paint, general cleaning and hardware. Hopkins focus is automotive. Chamois was a perfect fit for them,” Jim Cantonis, president of Acme, told Tampa Bay Business Journal. “We now take Acme Sponge back to our family roots.”…read more


05/2017 –  The More You NOAA: What Budget Cuts Mean for Florida’s Sponge Business

The Trump administration has proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) budget that will have huge impacts on the economies of coastal communities. Growing up in Florida, I know that these cuts mean more to my community than numbers on a spreadsheet. For so many of my neighbors, from the commercial fisherman to the marine researcher, these cuts will impact how they make a living and provide for their families…read more


08/2016Dirty Microfiber and Plastic Fish

Although microfiber cloth and microbeads seemed to allow for a new generation of drying and scrubbing products, we are only now beginning to understand their impacts on our environment. These types of products are made from plastics or synthetic materials that are not biodegradable, but are small enough that they cannot be filtered out by existing water treatment systems. And, as a result, are eventually washed out into our lakes, rivers and oceans to become microplastic litter. The primary source of mircoplastic litter, the most prevalent of which is microfibers, are produced from washing synthetic or microfiber cloth…read more


12/2015Tarpon Springs Business Links its Success to Florida Sea Grant

Jim Cantonis is president of Acme Sponge and Chamois of Tarpon Springs, Fla., a successful processor and wholesaler of marine sponges and sheepskin chamois products sold around the world. Florida Sea Grant contributes to the company’s success by conducting research in the biology of marine sponges that helps ensure the sustainability of the commercial fishery…read more


10/2015Clean the Fleece, Dirty the Planet

It’s getting cold. Time to break out the fleece. Warm and light, it even comes in a nice shade of green: a lot of the material used to make fleece comes from recycled plastic bottles — better in your sweater than in a landfill.

Green that is, until you run it through the washing machine. That’s when thousands of plastic microfibers get flushed into the sewer system and on to some stream, lake, river and ocean…read more


08/2014Restoring Florida Bay: Sponges the foundation for thriving ecosystem

Prior to the 1990s the Florida Keys sponge community was a lively underwater city for fish and invertebrates. Curious divers could hear the snap, crackle and pop of snapping shrimp. The noisy bottom was a sign of health for the organisms that provide nursery habitat to juvenile marine species.
But now when divers plunge to the bottom, it’s as if the sponge community is on mute. There is no hustle and bustle of creatures foraging for their next meal, only silence…read more


08/2014Sponges: The Keys to the Keys
Where have all the sponges gone? Healthy sponge populations are an important part of the Florida Keys ecosystem. But a series of harmful algal blooms has essentially eliminated once thriving sponge communities over large areas of Florida Bay and the Keys. Can this critical habitat
recover? With Florida Sea Grant funding, researchers are now testing transplant techniques to see if they can accelerate the restoration process. Initial results are promising…read more

How Sea Sponges Are Processed for Use

All sponges are a dark brown when they are first harvested. It is only after processing that sponges take on the brown or light tan color that most consumers are familiar with. Processing sea sponges for use is a multi-step process that begins on the boats right after the sponges are harvested. The process begins with cleaning all of the unwanted tissue and any debris from of the sponge.

Harvesting and Cleaning Natural Sea Sponges

Wool Sea Sponges with Outer Black Skin Covering - Florida Sea Grant Photo
Wool Sea Sponge with Outer Black Skin Covering – Florida Sea Grant Photo

Sea sponges are cleaned through a process that requires several steps. Once removed from the water the living tissue begins to breakdown. The sponges are covered with wet burlap and left on the deck for several days where the heat of the sun and the damp of the burlap help with the removal of the non-skeletal tissue; if the outer skin dries out and hardens, the sponges become worthless. The sponges are then squeezed, or “paddled”, to remove all of the unwanted tissue until only the skeleton of the sponge remains.

During this messy cleaning, or curing, process, the tough outer black skin, gurry and the debris from the sponge’s canals are removed. The market price of a sponge is determined, in large part, by how well the sponges have been cleaned. After cleaning, the sponges are rinsed and hung to dry before being sent to a sponge processing warehouse.

Processing Natural Sea Sponges

After arriving at the warehouse, the sponges begin the processing stage of preparation for sale. The raw sponges are first soaked in water and then partially dried to the point where the sponges are still damp, but the excess water has been removed. The damp sponges, which are easier to cut than when dry, are then trimmed to remove any remaining roots or any other unwanted portions. The trimmed sponges are then sorted by quality and those that are well-rounded and symmetrical are set aside to be processed and sold as “form” sponges, which are also suitable for decoration, and “cut” sponges that have more working surface area.

Once the sponges are trimmed and separated, they are soaked in a weak solution of acid overnight to remove any remaining bits of root, skin, gurry, sand (or any other debris) that may have been missed in the other cleaning processes. The sponges are then removed from the solution and washed, often in large commercial washing machines, with a soda solution that not only neutralizes the acid and removes any remaining particles form the sponge, but also lightens the color of the sponge. The washing time and amount of acid used ultimately determine the color and texture of the finished sponge; this is the most delicate part of the process and requires a high level of skill and expertise. The sponges are then sent to the drying room and allowed to dry completely before being shipped to our retailers.

The Finished Natural Sea Sponge

The finished sea sponges (Wool, Yellow or Grass) are available in a variety of sizes, depending on the intended application. But all of our sea sponges are highly absorbent, inhibit the growth of bacteria, reusable, economical, environmentally safe and a 100% biodegradable sustainably harvested renewable natural resource.

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What is a Sea Sponge

Natural Sea Sponges are some of the simplest multicellular organisms alive. They do not have brains, digestive, circulatory or nervous systems and, once rooted, do not move.  Sea sponges are referred to as “filter feeders” because they get the nutrients they need by digesting the plankton, bacteria and other organic material that they filter from the water that passes through the thousands of pores in their bodies; and they eliminate waste the same way.  In a single day, sea sponges can pass more than 20,000 times their volume through their systems.  Because sea sponges are capable of moving so much water through themselves so efficiently, they are, by nature, self-cleaning and once processed wash out quickly, easily and, most importantly, completely.  And because they wash out so completely, they do not hold onto organic matter that can cause foul odors.  In addition, natural sea sponges have enzymes in them that make them naturally antibacterial, inhibit the growth of mildew and mold and they are also naturally hypo-allergenic and toxin free.  These characteristics have made natural sea sponges an important commodity for washing and cleaning for hundreds of years.

Where Sea Sponges Live

Sea sponges have been around for approximately 750 million years, are found all over the world and, although there have been more than 5000 different species identified, they are predominantly found in calm clear waters where stirred up sediments cannot clog the pores they rely on for sustenance. Most natural sea sponges live by permanently attaching themselves to solid objects on the ocean floor and filtering the particulates from the waters around them.  Of the twelve types of sea sponges harvested for commercial use, the Wool (or Lamb’s Wool), Yellow, and Grass sponges offer the best value.

Natural Sea Sponges in Baskets
Natural Sea Sponges in Baskets

Are Sea Sponges Plants or Animals?

Because sea sponges have characteristics of both plants and animals, there has been a considerable amount of debate over the centuries as to how they should be classified, however, even though they share many characteristics with plants, they do not photosynthesize and so are now considered animals.  The average life span of a sea sponge is approximately 10 years.  In their un-harvested and unprocessed state, sea sponges have a firm outer layer that protects the “spongy” inner structure. It is the soft absorbent inner structure, or “skeleton”, that processing the sponge exposes and that we use for cleaning.

Sea Sponges are a Renewable Resource

Natural sea sponges have been harvested for centuries and, done properly, actually is beneficial to the sponge population as a whole.  Harvesting sea sponges by cutting them off with a knife rather than “hooking” them by ripping the whole sponge off the bottom, actually strengthens their ability to regenerate and extends the lifetime.  Cut sponges regrow, often healthier and bigger than the original, within a few years and any pieces broken off will settle back to the ocean floor, connect to a new object and create a new sponge.  Over time this harvesting method can dramatically increase the population density and overall health of the sponges being harvested.

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Types of Sea Sponges

There are many types of sea sponges, but of the over 5,000 species identified by scientists worldwide, less than 12 of them are actually harvested for commercial use. Of the types of sponges harvested for commercial use, the Wool, Yellow and Grass sea sponges are some of the most versatile and usable sponges available. Natural sponges have several distinct advantages over synthetic sponges in that they are much more absorbent, more durable and longer lasting, will not stain or retain odors, and their soft texture promotes better and less abrasive cleaning.

Wool Sea Sponges

Sea Wool Sponges are well known for their exceptional soft texture, absorption and durability. They are also one of the most versatile types of sponges available. These qualities make Wool Sea sponges ideal for spa and bath use, and for safely bathing infants. Wool sponges are also used to safely clean delicate surfaces such as vehicle clear-coats, (cars, trucks, aircraft, boats, etc…), fine china, crystal and more. Tradesman and artisans also use these types of sponges for creating faux painting effects, wallpapering, texturing, pottery-making, and numerous other types of jobs and projects. We cut our Wool sponges in half to increase the usable surface area and make them easier to grip and use.

Yellow Sea Sponges

Although not quite as absorbent or soft as Sea Wool Sponges, Yellow Sponges are more economical and a better choice for exfoliating or scrubbing. Firmer than “Wool” sea sponges, Yellow sponges are great for cleaning jobs that need a bit more scrubbing. While extremely soft, Wool sponges are simply not dense or firm enough to scrub any but the most delicate surfaces.

Natural Sea Sponges in Baskets
Natural Sea Sponges in Baskets

Yellow sponges are a much better choice for these types of applications. Yellow sponges are great for use as an exfoliating bath sponge, faux finishing, texturing, tile and grout work, household and general cleaning projects. The Yellow Sponge is named for its attractive light golden color, and is typically less expensive than Wool. Natural Yellow Sea Sponges are a versatile tool having hundreds of uses.

Grass Sea Sponges

Native to the waters off Florida, the Sea Grass Sponge is a finer pored sponge, and while they offer an economical alternative to Sea Yellow and Sea Wool Sponges, they are somewhat less absorbent and durable. Grass Sea sponges work well for use as bath sponges and can be used for faux finishing, and general purpose cleaning, but is more limited by its durability.

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Acme Natural Sea Sponge Products

Sea Sponges are a renewable natural resource that are harvested from the ocean. Natural sea sponges, unlike artificial sponges, naturally inhibit the growth of bacteria, are environmentally safe, economical, 100% biodegradable, and a quickly renewable, sustainably harvested natural resource. Sea sponges are native to Florida coastal waters and have been used for a variety of purposes for more than 2,000 years.

Natural sponges have several distinct advantages over synthetic sponges. Sea sponges are much more absorbent, more durable, longer lasting, will not stain or retain odors, and their soft texture promotes a more thorough and less abrasive cleaning. Although over 5000 species of Sea Sponges have been identified so far, only 12 of them are currently harvested and used for commercial purposes.

Natural Sea Sponges are the Cornerstone of Acme

The Natural Sea Sponge Collection Yellow and Wool
The Natural Sea Sponge Collection
Yellow and Wool Sponges

Natural sea sponges have been the cornerstone of our company from the very beginning, and for over 50 years now we have been sourcing and providing the highest quality sponges available. Our experience and know-how have not only made us the largest sponge supplier in the U.S., but has built our reputation for providing quality products that consistently meet our customer’s high expectations. By doing our own processing and holding large inventories of different sponge varieties, we are able to maintain our high standards and the quality of the sponges we offer. We offer 3 different varieties of natural sponges including, Wool, Yellow and Grass sea sponges.

Acme Sea Sponge Products

Choosing the right tool, or sponge, for the job makes a big difference in time, money, and effort, so we offer different types of sponges for various applications. And regardless of the application or project you’re working on, Acme has a natural sea sponge to help you get it done. Of the twelve varieties of natural sponges harvested, the Wool, Yellow and Grass varieties are some of the most cost-effective and versatile sponges available.

See all Sea Sponge Products

Acme The Natural Brand

Our “The Natural” brand sponges are sourced from all over the world, the bulk of which are purchased directly from the fisherman who harvest them.  In order to insure the quality of our sponges, no middlemen are involved; the sponges are purchased at the source by our own employees.  The sponges, which are

The Natural Brand Yellow and Wool Sponge Collection
The Natural Brand
Yellow and Wool Sponge Collection
initially sorted for quality at the point of purchase, are then sorted again at every stage of processing; and before final packaging, where our team rejects any sponge that does not adhere to our rigid standards. Our natural sponge team boasts over 160 years of experience and skill, resulting in the highest quality natural sea sponges available.

Types of The Natural brand Sea Sponges

We offer several different types of natural sea sponges under “The Natural” brand including “Wool”, “Yellow” and “Grass”.  “Wool” (or “Lamb’s Wool”) is one of the softest types of sponge available and is often used for washing more delicate surfaces, or where it is critical that dirt and grit be pulled away, without scratching or marring.  “Yellow” Sponges are somewhat stiffer than Wool and are great for soft scrubbing or exfoliation. “Grass” sponges have finer pores than either the Wool or Yellow sponges, and are more economical.

The Natural brand Sea Sponge Uses

Our “The Natural” brand sponges are often used by car enthusiasts and exotic car owners to safely clean the vehicle without scratching or marring the finish.  Because natural sea sponges completely release the dirt and grit (pulled away from the finish and into the pores) when rinsed, they are also often preferred as a means to remove abrasive and corrosive brake dust from the tires and wheels.  In addition to automotive applications, natural sea sponges are used for bathing sensitive skin on both mothers and babies, cosmetic application and removal, hand washing delicate china and glassware, safely polishing silver and antiques, as well as wallpaper and faux finish applications, wall washing and general cleaning.

See our “The Natural” brand sponges