A blog about Industrial Hemp can’t be complete without a post about what industrial hemp actually is and how it can be beneficial for people, profit, and the planet. Industrial hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant. Unlike it’s more notorious cousin this variety doesn’t hold THC in amounts that have an effect on the mind. What is does produce though is eventually of way greater value than weed or hashish. It produces food, fiber, cellulose, and medicine. Four components that can contribute to the sustainable society we need to build in the coming decades.
Before we go to the possible uses it might be useful to check out why industrial hemp is such a promising crop. For starters, hemp grows fast and easily. This means that in the growing process it locks up carbon dioxide. Turning the plant into materials means locking away carbon dioxide and helping in the battle against climate change. Hemp grows on all kinds of soil. Hemp roots go deep which means they break up the earth while growing. This has healthy effects on the soil and makes it easier to work the same piece of land the next season. Another advantage of the deep rooting attribute of Industrial hemp is that the roots stay in the ground. Thus providing useful nutrients for the plants of the new season.
Industrial hemp is resistant to most if not all known diseases in agriculture. This means no pesticides are needed during cultivation. Because the plants are grown very close together – plants stand only about an inch away from other plants – weeds don’t stand a change in a hemp field. This attribute is not only useful in one growing season but also helps to prevent weeds in the years to come. In a rotation system planting industrial hemp can be extremely useful as an organic way to get rid of stubborn weeds.
Nowadays there are more than 40.000 known uses for hemp. Ranging from medicine to insulation and from paper to door panels. If you take a closer look at the uses they broadly fall apart in four categories. Food, medicine, construction, clothing, and bioplastics. The hemp plant consists of different parts and all these different parts can be used in some manner. A hemp plant is harvested and used from top to bottom and everything is used.
The seeds that hemp products are healthy and can be eaten directly, used in other foods, or pressed to hemp oil. Hemp oil is the only vegetable oil containing all the right fatty acids. For this reason, it fits in a healthy and balanced diet. Hemp can also contribute in a medicinal way to our health, for instance, the best cbd for anxiety derived from help only. In recent years a lot of research is done on CBD. Just like THC, this is a cannabinoid. Unlike THC it doesn’t have any of the psychoactive effects. The research into CBD shows promising results in the battle against cancer and as a medicine against anxieties and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. CBD is mostly known as an oil that is made from the leaves of the hemp plant.
Another reason to grow hemp is because of its fibers. They have been long used for making things like rope and clothing. The fiber of the hemp plant is the strongest natural fiber around. Clothes made from hemp are known for extremely durable. During World War II the U.S. government encouraged the growth of hemp by American farmers to use the fiber for the constant demand of clothes, rope, and other war materials. Modern use for the fiber is car door panels. While it competes with glass fiber for strongness it is many savers. To make a door panel out of hemp fiber it first needs to be processed and woven and then it needs to be mixed with a (bio) composite. Dutch Startup Van. Eko even managed to build a hemp-based scooter this way.
Paper, bioplastics, and even a material called hempcrete are made from yet another part of the plant. The woody core is a cellulose-rich material called shivs. This material can be produced in different manners. Promising is what Zeoform does. They make a plastic-like material out of it. A very known way to process the shivs is by turning them into the paper. Before relying on wood somewhere in the 19th-century hemp was the to go to recourse for paper. And this was for a reason. Making paper out of hemp is as much as 4 times as effective as making paper out of wood.
Hempcrete is a modern material made from ancient techniques. A mixture of hemp and quick lime is used to build walls that are strong enough to support themselves but need a framework to build an entire house. Hempcrete can be cased in situ (applied on the building site) or it can be bought in pre-made bricks. The material is developed in France where architects and builders working on monumental buildings found out that using Portland Cement ruined the houses in the long run because this material instead of letting water through trapped the water inside the building. Hempcrete, that resembles the way historic houses were built originally, is breathable. Besides being breathable hempcrete has also high insulation values and good thermal mass. The combination of these attributes makes it a healthy and durable choice to build with. In France, England, The Netherlands and even the U.S. hemp houses have been build and since architectures around the globe are getting more and more aware of the material in the near future the number of building made with hempcrete will only rise.