Uses of Hemp
Hemp is one of the most versatile plants when it comes to its possible uses for everyday products. Hemp uses range anywhere from food to building materials, and we’re going to go over those options here. If you would like more information as to why we aren’t currently using the full potential of hemp check out our post “A History of Hemp in North America”.
Hemp can be eaten in many forms, all of which are very nutritional. Taste is arguable and each person's preferences will affect whether or not this is an enjoyable use for hemp, so we’re going to focus mainly on its nutritional value.
The leaves themselves can be used in salads, seeds can be made into hemp seed oil for cooking as well. However the most nutritional way to consume hemp is just with its seeds alone.
Seeds can be eaten raw, ground, sprouted or made into a powder. Essentially any form of the seeds are entirely edible and will make a great snack. A 100g serving of hemp seeds is 586 calories, and contains 64% of your daily value of protein. They are also a great source for many vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron and dietary fiber.
Hemp has been used as a natural source of spun fiber for a very long time, the earliest recordings being 10,000 years ago, shortly after its discovery. The main uses for hemp as a fiber were to be made into ropes and canvas for sails.
Modern use for hemp fiber is mainly in clothing and accessories, with a growing hemp textile industry. Pure spun hemp has a very similar texture to linen, making it a great material to wear during hot weather.
Hemp jewelry is also pretty common to find. We’ve all seen the cordage type bracelets, necklaces and anklets, generally found in tourist areas or head-shops.
Hemp is a surprisingly strong and durable material on its own, which naturally meant it made its way into building materials and thus the invention of Hempcrete. Hempcrete is a mixture of the hemp fibers and lime. It creates a strong, breathable concrete like substance that’s great for building.
The downside to this is on its own hempcrete is that it is not entirely structurally strong, so when being used in building there is often a need for another support system, commonly used are steel or wood frames, or using hempcrete in conjunction with standard brick.
The benefits however outweigh this. Hempcrete is a great insulator, crack resistant and a wonderful moisture regulator. These qualities make it ideal to use in areas prone to earthquakes, in basements and in places with shifting climates. In fact hempcrete has been used in France since the early 1990s.
Plastic and Composite Materials
Believe it or not hemp has been used (in a mixture with other materials) by many companies in the production of cars. This mixture is categorized under bioplastic.
Fiberglass, hemp fiber, knaf (from the hibiscus family) and flax are mixed together to make a bioplastic that is then used for the production of body work for automobiles. Some companies that are already using this mixture include: Audi, BMW, Ford and GM as well as 9 others.
This one I think we all knew. Hemp is a great source for paper, however you’ll be hard up to find any form of printer or standardized paper that has been made with hemp.
Hemp paper can currently be found being used for packaging, stationary, journal and fine arts paper, as well as business cards.
Hemps unique characteristics in its growth makes it a perfect plant for weed control. I know what you’re thinking, and no, not that kind. It grows very tall, is a dense fiber, and is able to be planted in a dense configuration.
Using hemp in this way allows farmers to avoid the use of pesticides and other chemical methods of weed control. The planting density of the hemp lessens the ability for weeds to sprout, which is great when it comes to weeds that like to grow and take over crop fields.
However, due to the exact reasons that make it a great form of weed control, in some areas hemp is actually classified as a prohibited, invasive weed.
Hemps most unknown and unexplored use, biofuel. The oils contains in the seeds and stalks of hemp, when mixed with alcohol fuel (which can be harnessed by fermenting the plant as well) makes a great biofuel.
Filtered hemp oil, on it own, can actually fuel diesel engines. This is also a fact that is often overlooked or generally unused. The creator of the diesel engine created it with the intention to be able to be fueled by many different types of fuels, many of which include vegetable and seed oils.
Currently a very small portion of biofuels are made with hemp, as it is not the cheapest resource to achieve this with. In the future however we may see a rising increase in this option.
Thanks for Staying Informed
Thanks for taking the time to read about hemp and its uses, we appreciate a well informed community and are trying to do our part to contribute to that. Please take everything in this as purely informational, especially when it comes to biofuel.
While the possibility is there for its use, we advise that you do not go out and attempt to make your own hemp based fuel if you own a vehicle with a diesel engine. The ramifications of this could drastically outweigh the benefits.