Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which took ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields…
Henry Ford demonstrated the advantages of natural products by incorporating hemp fibre in the bodywork of a prototype car in 1941. He could not continue production as there was insufficient hemp fibre grown due to restrictive legislation.
Hemp – an overview
Hemp goes back 10,000 years
The oldest known records of hemp use can be dated back to 10,000 years in China. For the last 2,000 years, until the late 19th century, hemp was the most widespread and significant industry around the world. There were thousands of enterprises producing most of the earth’s fibre for rope and sails, fabric for clothing and other uses, medicine, paper, oil for fuel, as well as seed for food for humans and animals.
Industrial hemp is distinct from marijuana as it has no psychoactive THC. For a brief history of hemp click here.
Hemp grows (almost) anywhere
Hemp can grow in most regions around the world. It grows quickly (80–100 days). Hemp requires between a quarter to a half of the water used in the cotton industry, and requires minimal, if any, herbicides or pesticides. As global concerns mount over the unsustainable use of water and use of pesticides, hemp offers welcome opportunities as a sustainable crop.
Hemp absorbs toxic metals
Hemp can remediate contaminated soils due to its capacity to absorb various heavy metals via a process called phytoremediation. Scientists who planted hemp at Chernobyl found that it conducted and removed chemicals from the soil better than any other plant.
Hemp reduces carbon emissions
Hemp can replace some of the causes of carbon emissions, and also reduce the effects of high carbon emissions. Hemp captures emissions through a process called carbon sequestration. Every tonne of hemp can eliminate over 1.5 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.
Hemp can stop deforestation
Hemp can be used as source material for existing wood products and paper. One hectare of hemp (grown in a year) can produce as much paper as four hectares of trees (grown over 20-30 years).
Hemp fabrics are versatile
Hemp fibre and fabrics are extremely durable. Hemp is well-known in products where strength and durability are paramount such as sails and rope. Hemp produces a wide range of yarns for clothing, furnishings, bed sheets and towels and many other fabrics used commercially.
The anti-bacterial properties of hemp make it resistant to mould, mildew and rot. Hemp fabric does not hold odours, a desirable quality for clothing. Hemp wicks moisture away from the body, keeping the body cool.
Hemp seeds, hemp oil
Hemp seeds provide high nutritionally value – amongst the highest known for seeds. The seeds contain around 25% protein. Most of the essential amino acids plus valuable minerals and vitamin E are available in the seeds. Hemp seed oil is rich in Omega 3 and 6.
Hemp seeds have a light nutty flavour. The seeds or hemp flour are a healthy ingredient in bread, cakes and snack bars.
Hemp oil is the foundation for numerous creams and lotions that restore the skin.
Building with hempcrete
Hempcrete is made from hemp hurd and a binder (commonly lime) to form bricks, slabs or panels which have excellent insulating properties.
The use of hemp in building materials lends them ideal properties. Walls made from hemp fibre are fire-resistant, pest-free, and do not develop mould or rot. Hemp walls are long lasting, and sequestre (absorb) atmospheric carbon. Hemp walls, however, are not load- bearing, and require a frame to support a roof.