What is Hemp?
The Hemp Plant
The 2018 Farm Bill officially describes hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. And any member of that plant, including these hemp seeds thereof and full derivatives, cannabinoids, extracts, isomers, acids, salts, also salts from isomers, whether growing or not, by a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not higher than 0.3 percent at a dry weight basis.”
The Cannabis family includes numerous variations, yet it is common famously known for psychoactive cannabis (marijuana or “weed”). This is the main reason why people worry about the term hemp with marijuana. Hemp belongs to the industrial variant cultivated for its fiber, hurd, and seeds and the other natural healing compounds found in its leaves.
Uses of Hemp
The seed is used mostly in dietary products. Hemp seeds are typically hulled and work in a kind of way. Seeds can be used eaten raw, ground into a meal, made into milk, and are even utilized to get protein powder.
Hemp seeds can be more pressed and made into oil. Hemp seed oil can be used as paint, salad dressing, and ink and does a core ingredient in various body care products.
Canada is the highest producer of hemp seeds, with over 84,000 acres licensed for cultivation in 2015. Strains grown most of the hemp in Canada are called Finola. Finola is known for producing the most significant seeds. However, they are so short, so they can’t be used for their stalk. More numerous farmers are experimenting with dual-use varieties over time, which can be utilized for both seeds and stalks.
The Bast (Fiber)
If you slice a hemp stalk in half, you’ll notice, nestled in a snug hollow tube, a long, string-like band running the length inside. This is hemp’s great bast fiber. If harvested correctly, the fiber is more vital than steel. The stalk and its fiber are applied mainly in construction materials, clothing, paper, etc.
Historically, so many different applications must be found for hemp’s stalk. During a 1938 Popular Mechanics article, hemp was stated to be the next ‘billion-dollar crop,’ as it praised its bafflingly robust fibers. The magazine found there to be higher than 25,000 industrial uses for hemp. The benefits of hemp stalk include apparel, rope, netting, bags, canvas, and carpet.
China is the world’s biggest producer of hemp stalks, with the government claiming the hemp industry to be above $200M.
The Shiv (Hurd)
Usually referred to as the woody core, hemp hurd is the hemp plant stem’s soft inner core. This is highly absorbent and rich in cellulose and excellent thermal and acoustic properties. The hurd can be utilized in two other forms:
- As untreated and unrefined chunks, it can be applied in different industrial and everyday products, such as cement, insulation, and paper.
- As a pulp, it can be used to make biodegradable plastics easily broken down and recycled.
Out of its many uses, hemp concrete (hempcrete) has gained a lot of attention globally as a natural substitute for concrete. More significant houses in Europe and Canada are starting to be built in hempcrete due to its robust insulation, windproof, and low carbon footprint properties.
In addition to hempcrete, hemp hurds is utilized for animal bedding, biodegradable garden mulch, paper, plastics, and insulation.