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Industrial uses for Hemp


The Hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa) is an incredibly versatile plant that has many uses and benefits. As described in the article on the History on Hemp, Hemp has been around for and has been used by man for a very long time.

Almost every part of the plant is uasable. Either as a food, as a nutritional supplement, as building material, animal feed and/or bedding.

Hemp Fibre

As the premier plant fibre, Cannabis Sativa has served mankind for thousands of years. This venerable fibre has always been valued for its strength and durability. Materials made from Hemp have been discovered in tombs dating back to 8,000 BC. Christopher Columbus sailed to America on ships rigged with Hemp sails and Hemp Rope. Hemp was grown extensively in colonial America by numerous farmers including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag from Hemp. In fact, its combination of ruggedness and comfort were utilized by Levi Strauss as a lightweight duck canvas for the very first pair of jeans made in California.

For thousands of years Hemp was traditionally used as an industrial fibre. Sailors relied upon Hemp cordage for strength to hold their ships and sails and the coarseness of the fibre made Hemp useful for canvas, sailcloth, sacks, rope, and paper.

While Hemp fibre was the first choice for industry, the coarseness of the fibre restricted Hemp from apparel and most home uses. Hemp needed to be softened. Traditional methods to soften vegetable fibres used acids to remove lignin, a type of natural glue found in many plant fibres. While this method to remove lignin worked well with cotton or flax, it weakened the fibres of Hemp and left them too unstable for use. Hemp therefore remained as an industrial fabric.

In the mid 1980's however, researchers developed an enzymatic process to successfully remove lignin from the Hemp fibre without compromising its strength. For the first time in history, de-gummed Hemp fibre could be spun alone or with other fibres to produce textiles for apparel. This technological breakthrough has catapulted Hemp to the forefront of modern textile design and fashion. Given Hemp's superiority to other fibres, the benefits of this breakthrough are enormous.

Superior Properties

Hemp fibre is one of the strongest and most durable of all natural textile fibres. Products made from Hemp will outlast their competition by many years. Not only is Hemp strong, but it also holds its shape, stretching less than any other natural fibre. This prevents Hemp garments from stretching out or becoming distorted with use. Hemp may be known for its durability, but its comfort and style are second to none. The more Hemp is used, the softer it gets. Hemp doesn't wear out, it wears in. Hemp is also naturally resistant to mould and ultraviolet light.

Due to the porous nature of the fibre, Hemp is more water absorbent, and will dye and retain its colour better than any fabric including cotton. This porous nature allows Hemp to "breathe," so that it is cool in warm weather. Furthermore, air which is trapped in the fibres is warmed by the body, making Hemp garments naturally warm in cooler weather.

Environmental Advantages

Hemp is an extremely fast growing crop, producing more fibre yield per acre than any other source. Hemp can produce 250% more fibre than cotton and 600% more fibre than flax using the same amount of land. The amount of land needed for obtaining equal yields of fibre place Hemp at an advantage over other fibres.

Hemp grows best in warm tropical zones or in moderately cool, temperate climates. Hemp leaves the soil in excellent condition for any succeeding crop, especially when weeds may otherwise be troublesome. Where the ground permits, Hemp's strong roots descend for three feet or more. The roots anchor and protect the soil from runoff, building and preserving topsoil and subsoil structures similar to those of forests. Moreover, Hemp does not exhaust the soil. Hemp plants shed their leaves all through the growing season, adding rich organic matter to the topsoil and helping it retain moisture. Farmers have reported excellent Hemp growth on land that had been cultivated steadily for nearly 100 years.

Hemp Fabric

As a fabric, Hemp provides all the warmth and softness of a natural textile but with a superior durability seldom found in other materials. Hemp is extremely versatile and can be used for countless products such as apparel, accessories, shoes, furniture, and home furnishings. Apparel made from Hemp incorporates all the beneficial qualities and will likely last longer and withstand harsh conditions. Hemp blended with other fibres easily incorporates the desirable qualities of both textiles. The soft elasticity of cotton or the smooth texture of silk combined with the natural strength of Hemp creates a whole new genre of fashion design.

The possibilities for Hemp fabrics are immense. It is likely that they will eventually supersede cotton, linen, and polyester in numerous areas. With so many uses and the potential to be produced cheaply, Hemp textiles are the wave of the future!


Hemp fibre is also used in the carpet industry. A blend of industrial hemp and wool fibers can produce a carpet that retains the durability of wool carpet, but produces an even softer and more health promoting carpet than a pure wool carpet.


Making Paper

Until the 1880's between 75% and 90% of paper was made with Hemp fibre. The Gutenberg bible published in the 15th Century, the King James bible in the 17th Century and Thomas Paines 18th Century pamphlets, including "The Rights of Man", were all printed on Hemp paper.

The use of discarded Hemp rope, sails and rag to form the source for paper making fibre began to change in the late 1800's. When unnatural fibres began to be included in cloth production, rag was used less for paper pulp. In 1937 DuPont patented a sulphuric acid process for wood pulp thus making it possible to use trees to make paper.

The chemical residues left by the acid process make wood based paper a short lived product that is breaking down from the moment it is produced. By contrast Hemp paper is stable for centuries. The Hemp plant being made up of only 4% lignin (lignin glues plant fibres together) as compared to a figure of 18-30% lignin in trees, needs far less acid to remove it to produce pulp for paper.

Soda ash can be used to process Hemp pulp thus eliminating completely the acid needed to process wood pulp. It is possible to ret (a process of freeing the fibres) Hemp using an entirely natural process, putrefactive fermentation, which yields fine, soft, white, silky fibre. There are obvious benefits of a process free from the chlorine bleach needed for paper made from wood. The elimination of dioxin discharges from paper mills would be a significant environmental achievement.

The precise date that Hemp came to the British Isles is uncertain but it was introduced into East Anglia in about 600 AD by Anglo-Saxon farmers and by 1200 AD it was a tithe crop (taxed by the church). In the 16th century Henry VIII and Elizabeth I both fined land owners with more than 60 acres for not growing Hemp.

Concern about deforestation and the impact of pollution from industry continues, the time has come when we can no longer afford to ignore the plant that from early human history until only this century was a mainstay of existence. S.S. Boyce writing in 1900 says, in his book "Hemp":

"The Hemp plant is the most simple and the most widely adapted to cultivation in all climates, the most susceptible to the manipulations of chemical and mechanical processes."

Through a combination of historical accident and willful deceit, Hemp has been denied its rightful place in our world economy.


Hemp Seed Oil

Industrial Grade Hemp Seed Oil

Once the EFA's in Hemp Seed Oil has degraded to the point where the oil no longer has nutritional value, the oil can be used as Industrial Grade Oil.

Paints & Varnishes

Paint and varnish manufacturers formerly used large quantities of Hemp to obtain quick drying oils. Rising petroleum prices could help re-establish this traditional use of Hemp.

Until the 1930's, most paints were made from Hemp seed oil and flax seed oil.


Hemp and flax oil make durable, long lasting paints because they contain high levels of essential fatty acids that react with oxygen and dry into a thin film that renders wood water-resistant.

The oil is turned into an alky resin which is then utilized in the manufacture of the various paint and varnish products.


Biodiesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as Hemp.  With over 30 million successful U.S. road miles Hemp biodiesel could be the answer to the world’s cry for cheaper fuel.  We have spent the last century polluting our beautiful earth with our petroleum based fuels that could have easily been replaced with fuels derived from Hemp.  It would only take approximately 6% of our current arable land to produce enough Hemp, for Hemp fuel, to make South Africa energy independent from the rest of the world. 

What is Hemp Fuel? 

Biodiesel is the name for a variety of ester based oxygenated fuels made from Hemp oil, other vegetable oils or animal fats. The concept of using vegetable oil as an engine fuel dates back to 1895 when Dr. Rudolf Diesel developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. Diesel demonstrated his engine at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 using peanut oil as fuel.

Why Hemp Bio Fuel?

  • Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel that runs in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine. It can be stored anywhere that petroleum diesel fuel is stored.

  • Biodiesel is safe to handle and transport because it is as biodegradable as sugar, 10 times less toxic than table salt, and has a high flashpoint of about 300 F compared to petroleum diesel fuel, which has a flash point of 125 F.

  • Biodiesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as Hemp.

  • Biodiesel is a proven fuel with over 30 million successful US road miles, and over 20 years of use in Europe.

  • When burned in a diesel engine, biodiesel replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with the pleasant smell of Hemp, popcorn or French fries.

  • Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel in the US to complete EPA Tier I Health Effects Testing under section 211(b) of the Clean Air Act, which provide the most thorough inventory of environmental and human health effects attributes that current technology will allow.

  • Biodiesel is 11% oxygen by weight and contains no sulfur. The use of biodiesel can extend the life of diesel engines because it is more lubricating than petroleum diesel fuel, while fuel consumption, auto ignition, power output, and engine torque are relatively unaffected by biodiesel.

  • The Congressional Budget Office, Department of Defence, US Department of Agriculture, and others have determined that biodiesel is the low cost alternative fuel option for fleets to meet requirements of the Energy Policy Act.

Angling / Fishing

It is well known, that certain flavourings attract different species of fish. For example, roach respond well to aniseed, turmeric and Hemp Seed Oil. Carp like a bit of Hemp seed meal and Hemp oil mixed in with the bait as it clouds the water nicely as it breaks up.


Tip 1

To make a fantastic spod mix, blend 45% Crushed Hemp (Hemp Cake/Hemp Meal) and 45% Molasses Meal with 10% Kelp Meal. Then mix in Hemp Seed Oil to make the blend tacky. The minute this mix hits the water it will start to work by releasing enzymes and amino acids, oils, sugars and trace elements that carp are naturally attracted to. Food particles will drift far and wide on the undertow, drawing carp in to feed. 


Tip 2
To boost Hemp Pellets attraction properties further, soak them in Hemp Oil for 24 hours before use. This will not break the pellets down and will provide excellent leak off in even the coldest water temperatures. Hemp Oil is also ideal for use in colder temperatures due to its viscous properties.



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This Page was last updated on : 2016-12-08

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