It is widely believed that hemp was the first plant ever cultivated by the human race, long before any other staple crop. Archaeological evidence suggests that hemp was widely utilized in Neolithic China, even as far back as 5 B.C. Then, around 480 B.C, Herodotus – a Greek historian – notes that the inhabitants of Scythia inhaled the smoke of hemp as a burial ritual. From there, the use of industrial hemp rapidly spread around the globe and across civilizations. In this article, we discuss the many practical uses of industrial hemp.
What is Industrial Hemp?
Hemp belongs to the same plant family as cannabis. Unlike cannabis, however, hemp has a significantly lower cannabinoid content, which is why many countries typically harvest hemp strictly for manufacturing purposes.
The Uses of Industrial Hemp
Industrial hemp has many practical applications, including (but not limited to):
Food & Beverages
Many parts of the hemp plant can serve as a nutritious food. For example, hemp seeds are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which could potentially serve as an excellent dietary supplement. Hemp seeds could additionally serve as an excellent source for a soy milk alternative. It is also widely available in tofu, cereals, butter, alcoholic beverages, ice creams, cakes, and even as a cooking oil.
Researchers widely believe that hemp is the first plant ever cultivated by man. Studies show that China began using hemp in the manufacture of items such as clothing, paper, ropes, and fish nets around 8,000 B.C. In its purest form, hemp has a texture that resembles linen. Its fibers are used today in the making of silk lingerie. However, due to its durability, hemp is used mostly in items meant for long-time wear and tear, like jeans, shoes, and sportswear.
Around 200 years before paper production began, the Western Han Dynasty was already making coarse paper constructed from hemp fiber. In fact, the earliest scrap of paper still in existence today was created with hemp fibers. Moreover, paper sourced from hemp is highly durable and suitable for high frequency recycling practices.
In construction, hemp is ideal for the manufacturing of a wide range of building materials. The strength and durability of hemp fibers, for example, are often used to replace wood and construct sturdy homes. Then there is, also, ‘hempcrete,’ which is a more durable and environmentally sustainable type of concrete. Other uses of industrial hemp include incorporating it to create an internal plaster, as well as in the making of press boards, fiberboards, and panels.
In 1941, Ford built a prototype of a car whose exterior was made with hemp. Ford’s hemp car was even meant to run on a hemp/ethanol mix. In a widely-circulated photo, Henry Ford is seen hacking at the prototype with an ax to demonstrate the sheer strength of his hemp-infused body. While this plan was unsuccessful, hemp is now a regular part of car manufacturing in the 21st century. Star market holders, such as BMW, Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen, all use hemp at their plants.
In recent years, hemp has also been applied in the creation of shower curtain liners, cases for C.D.s and DVDs, and other plastic knickknacks.
Hemp can be a reliable source of bio-fuel. When you process hemp oil, it can easily convert into bio-diesel. Sometimes known as hempoline, bio-diesel from hemp is extracted from stalks, seeds, and other leftover bits. The process of converting hemp to fuel will only become more manageable as cellulosic ethanol technology advances and more significant innovation is achieved. However, because the cultivation of hemp is still somewhat restricted in most countries, its use as bio-fuel remains largely unexplored.
Soil and Water Purification
Industrial hemp is often termed as a mop crop, meaning that it can help separate impurities from wastewater. It can also help eliminate high-levels of phosphorus from chicken litter and other chemicals.
Hemp, as a purifying product, was most notably used in the clean-up of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine and was used to heal its soil in the aftermath of the mishap through a process called phytoremediation.
Joshua Willard (Freelance CBD Content Writer/Editor)
These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.