Hemp the strongest, naturally existing fiber in the world
There is often a lot of confusion between the names Cannabis, Marijuana, and Hemp. Hemp is a plant that is a variety of the Cannabis plant that does not contain the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
Cannabis is a flowering plant from the Cannabaceae family of which there are three main species: Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis ruderalis. People often struggle to differentiate between marijuana and hemp and thing that they are both a species or strain of the Cannabis plant. In fact, they are both simply a classification of Cannabis.
Hemp Vs. Marijuana: What’s the difference?
When a variety of Cannabis plant contains 0.3% THC or less, it is classified as Hemp. Marijuana, on the other hand, contains more than 0.3% THC and will, therefore, have psychoactive effects when consumed or used.Hemp is actually the industrial form of Cannabis. It is a plant that is specially cultivated in the industry for its seeds, fiber, and hurd. It is a non-intoxicating.
In terms of appearance, hemp looks remarkably different from marijuana. Marijuana has broad leaves and tight buds. Hemp’s leaves are thinner and are more concentrated towards the top. There are very few leaves or branches below the part of the plant that is at the top. Observed from further back, a marijuana plant is shorter and fatter. Hemp, on the other hand, is taller and skinnier and can reach up to 20 feet. Marijuana farms and industrial hemp farms look very different when compared side by side.
Chemical composition between marijuana and hemp
As previously mentioned, hemp has below 0.3% THC. On average, marijuana has between 5% and 20%. Some plants contain as much as 30% THC. Hemp has a high level of CBD (cannabidiol) which is the antagonist to THC and therefore renders the small amount of THC in hemp completely useless.
Cultivation of marijuana and hemp
When you see hemp and marijuana in fields, you can immediately identify and differentiate between the two. Hemp can grow in many different climates. Hemp plants are close together and have a growth cycle of between 108 and 120 days.
Marijuana, on the other hand, needs a carefully controlled, humid, and warm atmosphere. The growth cycle of marijuana is about half that of hemp at around 60 to 90 days. What’s more, you cannot grow medical cannabis too closely together. Instead of being 4 inches apart like hemp, marijuana needs about six feet between plants.
Finally, you can’t grow hemp and marijuana too close together because the pollen from the hemp will dilute the psychoactive properties of marijuana and ruin the crop.
How long has hemp been around?
There is evidence that suggests hemp has been used for many thousands of years and up until the last century, it was one of the most important crops across the world. Nowadays, there have been changes and people don’t know as much about it as they used to.
Hemp was arguably one of the first plants that farmers cultivated mainly for its fiber to make textiles. Archaeologists discovered a remnant of cloth made from hemp, and they believe it to be from around 8000bc. What’s more, people think that hemp was the first thing to be a proper industry with trade.
Which countries used hemp historically?
It seems as though China has the longest history in terms of hemp cultivation. Many historians believe that China has a 6000-year history with hemp. China progressed Hemp even further when it used it to make the first paper in the world in around 150bc. Other countries have long accounts of cultivating hemp too, France began growing hemp around 700 years ago as did Chile and Spain. Also, there was a big hemp market in Russia too. The middle ages saw the rise of hemp as a social and economic value, which was responsible for supplying fiber and food to great quantities of people across the globe.
What were the historical uses of hemp?
This plant was so popular throughout history because of how resourceful it was as a product. Hemp has so many uses including rope, clothing, paper, and material for housing, etc. Also, communities used hemp for centuries for their medicinal properties across the globe. Many ancient medicines and folk remedies refer to hemp’s curative properties found in the roots, seeds, and leaves. There were many recommendations for hemp, including to ease insomnia, rheumatism, dysentery, convulsions, arthritic joints, and difficult childbirth.
What are the different parts of the hemp plant?
There are three main parts of the hemp plant: the seeds, the fiber, and the hurd.
- The seeds – these are hulled before typical use
- The fiber – this is also known as the bast. The fiber is inside the stalk of a hemp plant. When the stalk is cut in half, there is a long band that looks like a string that runs along the stalk’s length. This is the bast fiber. If it is harvest carefully, hemp fiber is really strong, even stronger in many ways than steel!
- The hurd – another name for this is the shiv. This is the woody core of the hemp plant that is found inside the stem. It is soft and very absorbent. It is also high in cellulose and has fantastic acoustic and thermal properties.
How is hemp used today in general?
There are around fifty thousand different uses of hemp! The main areas are textiles, building materials, industrial textiles, paper, foods, and body care. Some of these use the leaves; some use the roots and some the hurd.
Textiles: Hemp is also an important raw material in the textile industry, i.e., Manufacturing of clothing, diapers, bags, shoes, and fine fabrics, and more.
Building materials: You can find hemp used in oil paints, varnishes, printing inks, fuel, solvents, fiberboard, coatings, insulation, fiberglass substitutes, and acrylics.
Industrial textiles: Hemp is used for making rope, canvas, tarps, netting, carpeting, molded parts, and caulking.
Paper: Printing, newsprint, cardboard, and packaging all use hemp
Foods: Hemp is a superfood and often consumed as hemp seed hearts, hemp seed oil, hemp protein powder, and food supplements
Body care: Hemp extract is an ingredient in soap, shampoo, lotions, balms, and cosmetics.
How are different Hemp components used?
The main use of hemp seeds is for foodstuffs. They are hulled and used in many different ways. Hemp seeds can be used to make milk, ground down into a meal, eaten raw or used to make protein powder.
Manufacturers and industries also press the seeds of the hemp plant for oil. This oil has many different uses: as ink, paint, in body care items like moisturizers and can also as a salad dressing!
We can use the fiber and stalk of the hemp plant in construction materials, clothing, and paper. The world’s biggest hemp stalk producer is China, and the Chinese government claims that the industry of hemp is worth more than 200 million USD.
We can use the hurd or the shiv in many different ways. Firstly, in its unrefined and untreated state, it is useful in a lot in industrial products like paper, insulation, and cement. When we use the hurd as pulp, it makes biodegradable plastic. This is great because it can be broken down easily and is recyclable. People also use the hurd in garden mulch, insulation, plastics, paper, and animal bedding.
In recent times, manufacturers are considering hempcrete, or hemp concrete, as a substitute for concrete that is more natural. Developers in Canada and Europe are beginning to build using this product because it provides durable insulation, is windproof, and has a low carbon footprint.
Hemp CBD oil
You’ve probably heard of CBD oil, but not many people realize that there are different kinds of CBD oil. On its own as a chemical compound, CBD, or cannabidiol, oil is the same no matter where it comes from. If there are differences between CBD oil from cannabis from hemp, then it’s because there are other compounds at play.
What are the benefits of hemp?
Hemp has many nutritional benefits. The seeds of hemp contain many nutritious compounds. They are rich in healthy fatty acids such as omega-6s and omega-3s, protein, and fiber. What’s more, they also have antioxidant properties and can, therefore, help to improve symptoms of many medical conditions like joint problems, skin problems, and heart trouble.
Since hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids, we consider them to be a source of complete protein. In fact, hemp seeds contain protein concentrations that are almost comparable to soybeans. There are 9.46 grams of protein per 30 grams of hemp seeds.
Amino acids are what make up proteins. They are like building blocks. The human body is unable to produce 9 of the essential amino acids and, therefore, we must get these into our body via our diet. There are not many foods that come from plants that we know to be a complete protein source. Hemp seeds, therefore, are valuable in this regards. Finally, hemp seeds are rich in arginine, which is an amino acid that benefits the health of the heart.
Hemp seeds are a vital source of polyunsaturated fats like omega-3. Although the human body needs these essential fatty acids, it is unable to produce them. Therefore, we must get these from our diet as they are crucial to our health in the long term.
The outer hulls of hemp seeds contain most of the fiber. Therefore, it is best to use hemp seeds that have their hulls intact to reap maximum benefits. Even without their hulls, however, hemp seeds are still a good source of fiber with approximately 1.2 grams of fiber per 3 tablespoons. Fiber is essential for good gut health. It also helps to reduce appetite, thus managing weight effectively. Finally, it also works to help stabilize the body’s blood sugar levels.
Vitamins and minerals
Hemp seeds are rich in magnesium, vitamin E, phosphorous, potassium, iron, zinc and B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, vitamin B6 and folate.
Hemp usage impact upon the environment?
Using hemp can promote a world that is more sustainable. Products made from hemp are reusable, recyclable, and completely biodegradable. There are even claims that hemp can help to reduce global warming since hemp takes a high amount of CO2 in comparison to most other plants. This is particularly true if hemp products have carbon locked up permanently, for example, when we use it in building materials rather than through recycling.
In terms of the physical environment, industrial hemp is robust and competitive. It will do much better than weeds, and can most farmers don’t use pesticides when growing the crop. This means that there are fewer pesticides in the environment, and the air is cleaner.
Using hemp has significant benefits to the environment when we use it in bio fiber processing. Also, we can recycle hemp products really easily in landfills or in compost. What’s more, they are not toxic and are renewable and biodegradable.
What is the future of hemp?
The future of hemp is pretty exciting. If we were to use hemp in fabric, it would be exceptionally soft and very durable. If we were to use hemp to build a car, it would be much lighter than steel but ten times more durable. Finally, if we were to use hemp to make paper, it would take a space four times smaller than trees used to make the same amount. All of these uses of hemp are certainly possible. There are potentially hundreds of uses of hemp that we are yet to discover. It is clear that hemp is both sustainable and profitable, and as we look for industries to become more environmentally friendly across the globe, it certainly seems as though hemp ticks many boxes.