Hemp has been cultivated for over 10,000 years, it has been an important food and fibre source with references dating back to ancient China and Mesopotamia.
Hemp fibre has been used for simple rope and coarse woven fabric, to paper and sailcloth.
Until the late 19th century, the shipping industry depended completely on hemp for the production of ropes and sails (the word canvas is derived from the Latin word “cannabis”).
Hemp plants are made up of three components:
- Seeds: used in food and personal care products.
- Flowers and leaves: produce CBD, used in medicine, supplements and beauty products.
- Stalks: produces fibre and hurd used in paper products, building materials, clothing, petroleum product replacements and other textiles.
Hempcrete homes are mould resistant, have high vapour permeability, humidity control, and are fire and pest resistant.
Hempcrete is a bio-composite made of hemp hurd mixed with a lime-based binder. The hemp hurd has a high silica content which allows it to bind well with the lime. This property is unique to hemp among all the natural fibres. The result is a lightweight cementitious insulating material, weighing about a 7th or 8th of the weight of concrete.
Hemp homes have an r-2.5 per inch insulating quality and have the unique ability to capture airborne pollutants over time, meaning they absorb carbon when the hemp is grown and once the hemp home is actually built. A grassroots effort across the world is underway among builders, architects, material suppliers and farmers to build homes with hempcrete.
Photo Credit: Push Design
The basic building blocks of plastic is cellulose taken from petroleum. Plastic can also be derived from plant cellulose, such as hemp.
Hemp hurd can be up to 85% cellulose, making hemp an environmentally friendly and biodegradable alternative to petroleum-based plastics.
Hemp hurd can also be processed into cellophane packaging material, or manufactured into a low-cost, compostable replacement for Styrofoam.
Hemp is already being made into compressed door panels and dashboards.
Automotive companies such as Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, Honda and Mercedes are currently using hemp composite door panels, trunks, head liners, etc.
Hemp composites are less expensive and dangerous than fibreglass counterparts. Hemp fibreglass composites can replace carbon and glass fibres without environmental and weight problems.
Well-crafted hemp textiles are durable, breathable and have strong thermal qualities, as well as being mildew-resistant and hypoallergenic.
Hemp textiles are resilient and longer lasting than cotton textiles and do not lose shape as easily. In addition, hemp fabrics kill bacteria, making them naturally anti-microbial.
Hemp textiles also have the best heat capacity ratio compared to all other fibres, meaning they keep the wearer cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Hemp yarn is smooth, consistent and very strong. Its softness makes it both easy to work with and very comfortable.
Cottonized hemp fibre is as soft as cotton while retaining hemp’s positive characteristics and is perfect for blending with many other fibers and can be spun on cotton spinning machines.
Pulp and Paper
Hemp’s long bast fibers are ideal for making high quality pulp.
Due to hemp fibre's tensile strength, it is good for high end specialized paper products ranging from tea bags, currency paper, cigarette papers or specialty filters.
Core and whole stalk can also be used to make lower end paper products.