Looking At The Many Uses Of Industrial Hemp
Hemp is an environmentally friendly plant that extracts carbon as it grows and rids the soil of any toxins while needing minimal water to grown.
What’s more is that it will grow in almost any climate and has been cultivated by humans for over 10,000 years.
Hemp has traditionally been defined as the stalks, leaves and seeds of the plant and that is what we will discuss, ignoring hemp flowers for another article which have a ton of medicinal uses.
With that being said, lets break down the industrial uses of hemp one by one, ordering them by the part of the plant that they come from
Uses For The Whole Plant
Taking the whole plant together is useful for several reasons including its use as a fuel.
It’s worth remembering that Henry Ford designed his model T to run on a hemp-based fuel.
It’s clear that traditional fossil based fuels are hurting our environment and damaging the quality of air and the ozone layer. Hemp is an environmentally friendly plant that can be used in two types of fuel.
Hemp Biodiesel is fascinating because in can run in any diesel powered vehicle without any modifications to the engine.
Hemp biodiesel is made by pressing the hemp seeds together to extract the oil and fats. This is then processed and mixed with other ingredients like: methanol and sodium methoxide to produce your fuel.
Check out this guide to making hemp fuel and make sure to always exercise caution and to stay safe while brewing it.
The benefit of Hemp-Diesel is that is convenient, renewable and can completely replace traditional diesel.
Hemp Biofuel or Cellulosic Ethanol
Producing Hemp fuel to run in petrol cars is a possibility although it does come with some barriers.
Regular Petrol will produce 50% more energy than hemp biofuel but that doesn’t make it unviable as hemp is grown domestically and fossil fuels pollute the planet while causing political turmoil and wars.
Hemp biofuel is made by placing hemp fibres into enzymes which turn it into sugars. These sugars are then fermented and the hemp biofuel is made and ready to go.
Moving onto the next part of the plant which is the seeds. When a female plant is pollinated by a male, it will produce seeds instead of flowers and these seeds are also incredibly versatile in their many uses.
Hemp is technically classed as a nut and is a protein packed source of food that has been used for thousands of years. 30 grams of hemp seeds will provide you with almost 10 grams of complete protein.
A complete protein is one that contains all 9 essential amino acids and hemp is one of the only plant based complete protein sources making it a pivotal part of every vegan diet.
Protein also contains Omega 3 fatty acids which are hard to come by and not produced by the body. Balancing Omega 6 and 3 Fatty acids is a great way to boost long term health and wellness.
Hemp Seeds go into making a ton of foods including:
Hemp milk is a nutritious vegan substitute to traditional milk that contains all the benefits discussed and is also packed with minerals, vitamins, iron, zinc and is a great source of fibre.
Hemp milk is often used to give babies, toddlers and infants a nutrition dense, healthy alternative to Dairy alternatives and no it won’t get you high! :)
Hemp Hearts And Hulled Hemp Seeds
Most of the fibre in hemp seeds is found in the shell which is hard containing hemp hearts inside.
Hemp hearts are going to be great for adding to recipes while hulled hemp seeds are great for a nutritious and easily digestible snack.
Hemp Protein is right up there with the best vegan proteins. While Pea protein contains more protein per gram, Hemp protein is a complete source of protein that doesn’t lead to the build up of Estrogen but contains a full range of healthy vitamins and minerals. Hemp protein is great for those with an active lifestyle or anyone who wants to build muscle.
Hemp also can come in the form of butter which is a natural and healthy alternative to the dairy version for people who are lactose intolerant or just wish to chose a vegan protein.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil comes from cold pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp seed oil can be taken internally as a dressing for salads or as a carrier oil. It can also be taken externally and is often used for healthy hair and healthy skin. You can get hemp seed oil in a bottle or as part of hemp seed oil capsules. Hemp seed oil contains all the nutritional benefits of Hemp seeds but it is not to be confused with CBD oil.
You would think hemp seed oil would be the best carrier for CBD extract but Coconut oil also provides a ton of benefits.
Skin And Hair Products
As mentioned, Hemp is used in a ton of hair and skin products and can really give a healthy tone to your hair. There are tons of quality Hemp shampoos out there and we have reviewed the best ones here:
Hemp seed oil is a very common treatment for acne and other skin ailments. Check out out guide to hemp seed oil skin products here.
CBD comes from the hemp plant and that has a ton of medical uses from pain and inflammation, to anxiety to stress, it has even been seen to reduce the growth of cancerous tumours. CBD is a natural remedy that can do it all it comes as no surprise to me to see the industry doing so well.
Traditional Fossil Fuel Based Plastics are taking a serious toll on our planet and hemp can provide a viable solution to address some of the problem. Plastic is always going to be heavily used in everyday life and while plant based plastics are being heavily invested in by companies, hemp plastic still suffer from higher costs.
This will change as the world inevitably looks for more sustainable ways of producing plastic and hemp plastic is already used in cars, boats and airplanes due to it’s tough fibres. Henry Ford used hemp plastic in the model T and it was said to have 10,000 times the impact strength of steel.
Paints and Varnishes
Hemp oil is perfect for paints and varnishes that dry quickly. The fatty acid ratios are similar to that of walnut oil and you can expect a similar texture.
Hemp paint and canvas was the norm for a long time until draconian laws came in to ban hemp in favour of other synthetic fibres.
With hemp used on the uptake, don’t be surprised to see hemp canvas and hemp paint making a big comeback.
Sunflower seeds have been the number 1 seeds for bird feed for the past few decades but that wasn’t always the case. Before hemp prohibition in the United States in 1937, hemp seeds were the number 1 seeds for birds.
Sunflower seeds require a lot of pesticides to grow and that can be harmful. Since Hemp doesn’t require any pesiticides to grow, it is the healthier option as it also has a great nutritional profile as well.
Now that we’ve dealt with the seeds it’s time to look at the stalks. If the top half of the plant has plenty of uses, the bottom part certainly doesn’t disappoint. Hemp stalks are made of strong fibre that has been used for rope, clothing and building materials for thousands of years.
The stalk is contains two useful components. Hurds are found in the interior of the stalk and comprise of short, woody fibres while the outer section contains long bast fibres which are used in textiles and clothing.
Hemp hurds are the softish inner part of the stalk that goes into a ton of uses. Lets check them out here.
Hemp herds are the main component of hempcrete which is a thermally efficient, breathable construction material that is carbon negative and sustainability. Hemp stores up heat and releases it slowly as the temperature cools. This makes it cheaper to heat your home.
Hempcrete is made by mixing lime with hemp hurds and this can be placed between a wooden mould, pressed and will form hempcrete.
Potential drawbacks include that many builders are not familiar with hempcrete, hemp hasn’t reached a mass scale yet and the costs are the same if not higher.
Hemcrete can’t be used in foundational walls, but hempcrete blocks have started to be appear on the market.
Hempcrete is also used for insulation and plaster due to its breathable and thermal properties
Hemp hurds are a favourite for animal beddings such as Guinea pigs, horses, cats, chickens, hamsters and rabbits.
While traditional beddings are made from wood and sawdust, these may actually negatively impact your pets health. Hemp hurds are dust free and the taste leads animals not to ingest them.
Hemp paper has a rich history and the world’s first paper was made from hemp in China thousands of years ago. Hemp paper was also very popular in early America and it only went out of use during prohibition in 1937.
Due to its higher cellulose and lower lignin levels, hemp is actually more suitable than wood for making paper, it is also far quicker to grow, sustainable and absorbs carbon.
Hemp paper has been growing in popularity in the US since the signing of the farm bill and with some government incentives we may see more hemp paper on the market real soon.
The research into making printing paper etc from hemp is still ongoing but it is gaining pace rapidly with today’s technology.
It has been said that 1 acre of hemp plants will produce as much as 4 acres of wood and that hemp stalks will grow in 4 months and it takes a tree 20 to 80 years to grow.
Hemp clothing also has a rich history. It was used by the Ancient Chinese and it was worn by the early American settlers who would refuse to buy from the British or couldn’t afford to. They spun hemp clothing from the very first colonial settlement in Virginia.
The long bast fibres of the hemp stalk are perfect for making clothing although they are usually not as soft as cotton which consumes far more natural resources as it grows.
This causes many companies to blend hemp with cotton but that appears to be changing with an innovative new enzyme process for hemp fibre in Canada which produces fabric that is just as soft as cotton.
Hemp is already widely used in clothing from jeans and t-shirts to shoes and hats and as the research into hemp clothing continues and the urgency for sustainability grows, we are sure hemp clothing will be coming back into fashion in a big way.
The longer fibers of the hemp plant are perfect for making strong ropes and these have been used in sailing for thousands of years.
Hemp was used in Columbus’ three ships that made it to the Cuba in 1497 and hemp was also used to fill the gaps between the wood in the hull. Hemp was said to be the only material durable enough to make the voyage across the Atlantic at those times.
Hemp rope was crucial to Britain in maintaining it’s naval dominance and when its supply from Russia was unreliable they offered early Americans generous bounties for hemp. Hemp was so important to early America for its many uses that farmers could pay their taxes with hemp and this continued almost right up to prohibition.
There are a huge number of benefits in using hemp rope to this day as follows:
- Environmentally friendly to grow
- It removes toxins from the soil and doesn’t deplete it, growing forever on the same spot with minimal resources needed
- Hemp is a natural pest repellent so no toxins or herbicides are needed to grow it.
- Mould Resistant
- It Possesses Great Tencile Strength
Hemp has been majorly important to the sailing industry throughout history. Hemp sailcloth is tough and durable. Columbus 3 ships contained hemp sailcloth so it is no wonder that the hemp plant adorns his statue in Barcelona.
The US Constitution is the oldest surviving war ship in the world and it took 120lbs of hemp to build for all the sail cloth, rope and lining.
Speciality paper is also often made out of the long fibres of the hemp stalk including for money and cigarette papers. The higher cellulose content allows for this paper to be made.
When it comes to rolling papers, hemp papers will contain far less chemicals that those needed to make rolling papers from wood.
Hemp is a plant with massive past and an even bigger future, blighted by a period of prohibition caused by corporate greed, resulting in serious damage to our planet by replacing the ever useful hemp with synthetic versions and pollutants which has irreversibly damaged or air and out seas and it may even have led to our climate changing.
The need to adapt hemp and get as much hemp growing as possible is upon us. With rapid research and testing going on in all areas of the plant and with today’s technology, we are sure that you are going to be hearing more and more about hemp in the coming weeks, months and years.
Aidan Lehane is an entrepreneur who has a lifelong passion for CBD, Hemp and allowing people to find an effective natural remedy to many of their pains and illnesses.
Aidan has been a constant advocate for cbd and hemp legalization for over 2 decades and is often found researching & creating blogs and videos about CBD, on the Great Hemp Youtube channel while testing and reviewing countless products for quality and effectiveness.