The Uses of Industrial Hemp
When you flip back the pages of history, you will find that hemp was one of the first crops to be cultivated by the human race. Archaeological evidence points out that the use of hemp was a reality in Neolithic China, even around 5B.C. Then, around 480 B.C, Herodotus – a Greek historian of his time – notes that the inhabitants of Scythia inhaled the smoke of hemp as a pleasure activity. From there on, you can see the use of industrial hemp across the globe and across civilizations.
What is Hemp?
Hemp belongs to the same plant family as cannabis. Unlike cannabis, however, hemp has a low cannabinoid content, which is why countries typically harvest hemp for manufacturing purposes. Today, hemp is cultivated in different parts of the world for industrial purposes alone, which are plentiful.
The Uses of Industrial Hemp
Hemp’s uses are many, and you will probably come across it in products that use in your day-to-day life. Here are some of the most popular applications of industrial hemp:
Food & Beverages
Many parts of the hemp plant make for nutritious food. For example, the seed of the hemp plant is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can serve as an excellent dietary supplement. The seeds can be consumed raw or even sprouted and added to a salad.
Hemp seeds can also be used to make milk, which is similar to soy milk. It can also be seen in tofu, cereals, butter, alcoholic beverages, ice creams, cakes, and even as cooking oil. The leaves of the hemp plant can be added fresh to salads.
One of the first uses of industrial hemp was in the production of clothing. Studies show that China began using hemp in the manufacture of clothing 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. An acre of hemp can produce as much paper as 2-3 acres of trees. Moreover, paper made from hemp lasts for a really long time and can also be recycled with higher frequency and better ease than tree paper. Still, due to outdated technology rendering hemp pulp production an expensive process, hemp paper makes up for just 0.05% of the entire paper-making industry.
In construction, hemp can be used to manufacture a wide range of building materials. The strength and durable nature of hemp fibers 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 hemp include applying it is as an internal plaster, which makes for excellent insulation. It can also be used in the making of press boards, fiberboards, and panels.
In the 1940s, Ford built a prototype of a car whose exterior was made with soy and hemp. In a widely-circulated photo, Henry Ford is seen hacking at the prototype with an ax to demonstrate hemp’s strength and the lack of any real damage to the car. 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 used 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 be easily converted into bio-diesel. Sometimes known as hempoline, bio-diesel from hemp can be extracted from stalks, seeds, and other leftover bits. And the process 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 is largely unexplored.
Soil and Water Purification
Industrial hemp is often termed as a mop crop, meaning that it can be used to 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.
Interestingly enough, industrial hemp is a great weed killer. Since it grows tall and is dense in foliage, industrial hemp is often planted to reduce the growth of unwanted weeds. The use of hemp in farmland also helps constrict the pool of unwanted seeds embedded within the soil.
Moreover, the planting of hemp among their regular crops helps farmers avoid the excessive use of herbicides and encourages organic crop growth. It also provides them with the advantage of crop rotation. However, in some areas, hemp is termed as a noxious weed, and its growth is prohibited.
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.