5 Things You Didn’t Know About Hemp

  Kali R  Oct 10, 2017

Hemp Dreams

If you haven’t heard, Hemp is one of the world’s most essential resources, and for a good reason. Hemp is a super plant that is pound for pound the most renewable resource on Earth. Why is that you say? Let’s take a look.

Cannabis sativa plant has been used for thousands of years by ancient Earthlings of time come to pass. They knew the importance of cannabis and other sacred herbs. There was no war on drugs back then, and people were freer to experiment.

Thankfully, some souls were smart enough to tinker with hemp. The only thing we take with us when we die is experience; earthly possessions remain behind.

Historians have found bits of hemp cord in what was once Czechoslovakia, dating back to around 26,000 BCE. Let’s take a look at why hemp would be and still is cultivated today [1].

1. Hemp As Food

Flora grows naturally everywhere in the world, but agriculture is human-made. There is an ongoing argument over whether or not cannabis was the world’s first agricultural crop. We think it was. Cannabis sativa plant produces seeds that aren’t just edible, but high in protein and fiber as well.

Farmers in ancient China used Cannabis sativa plant to feed their families. Hemp seeds, or “Hemp Hearts,” are little shell-less seeds. They are a great source of “vitamin E and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc” [2].

According to The Information Distillery, “Hemp is the only plant that contains all of the essential fatty acids and amino acids required by the human body. These essential nutrients affect a variety of body functions, including metabolism, skin, mood, behavior, the brain, and the heart [3].

Many people today are turning to hemp milk, a cruelty-free alternative to dairy. The best thing about Cannabis sativa plant is that it is more than food; its fibers are also perfect for textiles.

2. Hemp As Clothing

Popular Mechanics produced an article in 1938 praising hemp as “the next billion-dollar crop.” At the time, there was substantial opposition against it. Cannabis sativa plant can yield three to six tons per acre and has a short growing season of 70 to 110 days. The plant produces grassy buds that contain low levels of CBD. However, its main industrial appeal is in the rest of its naturally fibrous and woody mass.

Hemp Stalk Diagram

Credit: Trusted Clothes

Machines are needed to separate the fiber part from the woody “hurds,” leaving behind two multi-useful sources. Hemp hurds can be used to make “over 25,000 products from dynamite to cellophane”, while hemp fibers can be used to make “more than 5,000 textile products”.Both of those numbers were figures from 1937 [4].

Industrial Cannabis sativa plant today

Today the possibilities are endless, however with strong laws in place. Cotton giants, booze businesses, and tobacco companies all lobbied against industrial Cannabis sativa plant. obviously, they feared a loss of business if people made the switch to the billion-dollar crop.

Reefer madness ensued, and the world lives in the aftermath of that madness today.  Even here in Canada, where it is now legal to produce industrial Cannabis sativa plant, hemp clothing is still not the mainstream, although it is far superior to cotton.

In its time in the ground, hemp breaks up the soil, leaving it ripe for the next grow, where cotton does not. Popular mechanics also claimed it to be a solution to reclaiming grounds overrun by Canadian thistle, the garden killer.

Cannabis sativa plant fibers and textiles are naturally stronger than cotton, while also being more environmentally friendly. Cotton production relies on an abundance of pesticides and heavy watering. In contrast, hemp needs little nutrients and water and requires no harmful chemicals to grow [5].  Hemp isn’t just superior as a textile; it is also a more efficient plastic.

3. Hemp as Plastic

The Real Solution

Certain plastics made from Cannabis sativa plant are biodegradable. Imagine a world free of plastic garbage polluting the oceans, rivers streams. Imagine having a solution to dumping plastic in holes in the Earth. That reality is possible with hemp plastic.

Due to experimentation with combining cornstarch and hemp, a grade of plastic has been created that is 100% biodegradable. The material produced from the corn-hemp union can be either blow or injection molded.  This innovation can replace virtually everything we know made from plastic today [6]. All that would need to change is the perspectives of the people.

Biodegradable plastic takes only three to six months to break down into something environmentally friendly, whereas traditional plastics take anywhere up to a few hundred years. The Earth could stay green for generations, especially since CO2 is given off from the decomposition of the biocomposite plastic [7]. The flora of the planet needs the CO2 to get bigger, stronger, and to produce oxygen for people to breath.

Keeping the Earth green by using Cannabis sativa plant plastic, clothing, and food would do wonders to reduce our footprint here on Earth. However, we can take it one step further. Hemp can also be used to replace insulation in our buildings!

4. Hemp as Insulation

Hempcrete

Credit: Ed Med

Hempcrete is a non-structural building material used as insulation, made by the combination of hemp hurds and a lime binder. The result is a thick, concrete-like substance, as usable as regular concrete. Poured into blocks and walls by using wood framing, hempcrete prevents excess racking or damage from seismic events.

This type of earthquake protection is due to hempcrete’s, “breathable,” yet air-tight design. It regulates a pleasant living environment by taking in humidity within the air and releasing it without condensation and the buildup of mold. The vapor permeability allows for temperature control and energy efficiency. Regardless of the thickness of the wall, it can efficiently combat hot climates [8].

Hempcrete also deters pests and retards fire, all while being non-toxic. To top it all off, hempcrete is carbon neutral, leaving behind a little footprint in comparison to the other building materials of today [9].

In a world where we no longer need petrochemicals, one can only wonder when humankind will switch to hemp-based fuel.

5. Hemp as Fuel

About Hemp Fuel

One could argue that the main reason why hemp and cannabis are illegal, is their ability to replace our reliance on fossil fuels completely — all without the modification of your car. Cannabis sativa plant produces two kinds of sustainable, renewable biofuels [10].

Cannabis sativa plant-based biodiesel

The first is biodiesel, which is made from the oils of pressed hemp hearts, methanol, and lye. It can be made at home and used in any unmodified diesel engine. Containing 11% oxygen by weight, Cannabis Sativa plant biodiesel is the only alternative fuel found to have little damaging effects on humans and the environment under the Clean Air Act.

The second is hemp-based ethanol/methanol, made by the fermentation of the woody hemp stalk. The ethanol/methanol made from this fermentation process is perfect to use in the production of hemp biodiesel. Production of these biofuels can help prevent things like oil spills, fracking, and environmental destruction.

Cannabis sativa plant-based biofuels also create a pleasant weedy smell, unlike other diesel fuels. Why not make the world green again by choosing to do what’s right, rather than what is convenient.

Parting Thoughts

Cannabis sativa plant can do it all; literally. It can replace the food you eat, the fuel in your car, the plastic of your water bottle, the insulation of your home, and the clothes on your back. If this article taught you something, pass it on! The greatest gift in today’s world is the gift of knowledge. The more people who know about the power of hemp, and cannabis, the better.

Footnotes

1) Cannabis: A Journey Through the Ages
2) 6 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
3) The Many Uses of Hemp
4) New Billion-Dollar Crop
5) Hemp Versus Cotton
6) Hemp Plastics
7) How Long Do Biodegradable Bags Take to Decompose?
8) Why We Like Hempcrete
9) Why Hempcrete
10) Hemp Fuel

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