The hemp plant, scientifically known as Cannabis sativa L, has a very long and rich relationship with mankind. This cannabis/human relationship has been in existence for at least 3,000 years. During this time, hemp held the title of being the earth’s most abundant crop.
Before we begin discussing the many uses of hemp, it is important to point out that the name, back then, referred to any plants within the cannabis species. However, in modern culture, the term hemp typically refers to industrial hemp. This is a specific variety of cannabis that has been bred to contain such a low THC content that it is considered non-intoxicating. Without further ado, let’s dive right into it. What is hemp used for?
What Is Industrial Hemp?
Industrial hemp is grown for food, paper, building materials, fuel, and so much more. Hemp can be used as a cheap and efficient replacement for many of our traditional materials used in producing products that we use daily. Also, the products produced with hemp are sustainable.
One acre of hemp will yield four times as much pulp as one acre of trees! However, despite all of the positive uses for the hemp plant, many parts of the modern world still associate the hemp plant with marijuana and its effects, when in fact, it contains very low levels of THC. Hopefully, this article will clarify this misinterpretation and shed some light on the many benefits of this remarkable compound.
1. Use of Hemp Fiber (In Clothing Accessories)
Hemp fiber can be classified as one of the toughest and long-lasting natural textile fibers known to man. Not only is hemp mighty, but it also has the extraordinary ability to hold its form even under extreme duress. Hemp may be appreciated for its sturdiness, but when it comes to clothing, the benefits are second to none.
Due to the permeable characteristics of the fiber, hemp is water-absorbent. When dyed, it will preserve its color more efficiently than any material, including cotton. This pervious nature allows hemp to stay cool in warm weather and warm in cooler weather.
2. Building Materials
Hemp has helped humanity for millennia. Materials fabricated from hemp have been found in tombs recording back to a time before Christ. Additionally, A famous sailor by the name of Christopher Columbus voyaged to America on ships rigged with hemp to hold the sails. Furthermore, the stiffness of the fiber made hemp useful for sacks, sailcloth, rope, canvas, as well as paper.
In modern times, hemp uses have been widely expanded upon. Just for starters, hemp can be used as a source for biomass fuel. Biomass fuel is a fuel that is made sustainably, and that consists only of natural components. It is speculated that hemp is such a rich source for this fuel that it could “provide all of our gas, oil, and coal energy needs and end dependency on fossil fuels.”
If the idea of Henry Ford making cars out of crops entertained you, you would be even more impressed by today’s reality. In 2016, a man from Key West proudly displayed his modern Mazda “replica” made mostly out of cannabis hemp. Imagine a vehicle made out of sustainable material that runs on sustainable material! All this and more can be possible through the cultivation of hemp.
Pros of Hemp Bio-Fuel
The first significant benefit of using hemp crops to produce hemp-derived biofuel is that hemp does not need land to be cleared for its growth. The crop grows faster than most other crops and leaves the soil in a better state than when it was first harvested, a phenomenon known as phytoremediation.
Also, the plant can grow in relatively infertile soils, which means it does not need to be grown on primary croplands, leaving those prime fields for growing food or other agricultural products.
Its conversion efficiency is also very impressive. Conversion efficiency is simply the rate at which the hemp plant is converted into the desired biodiesel product; the higher this conversion rate, the lower the concentration of unwanted byproducts that are released into the environment.
In the case of industrial hemp, many studies have suggested that 97% of the raw material (hemp) is successfully converted into biodiesel. This also indicates that more biodiesel is produced per hemp unit as compared to other biofuel crops, making it more economically viable. Other studies also point out that hemp-derived biodiesel can be used at lower temperatures than any other biodiesel currently available.
Regarding pollution, no study has yet demonstrated that the combustion of hemp fuel, and the process of producing this type of biofuel, emit any significant pollution into the environment.
Finally, the growth cycle for hemp is short, allowing for mass production in short periods. The plant is also extremely resilient to environmental problems, including increases in temperature, reduction in soil viability, or inaccessibility to water. Not to exaggerate, but the plant can virtually grow anywhere.
Cons of Hemp Bio-Fuel
The cons of hemp biofuel are not necessarily related to the production of the plant or its biofuel derivative. There truly is nothing negative about the use of hemp to produce biofuel for cleaner energy. It almost seems to be a no brainer.
Instead, the cons seem to revolve around the conservative perception of hemp and the cannabis Sativa plant.
Hemp is not yet nationally legal. This puts a damper on its use for fuel purposes. The main reason for its illegality is that hemp is often associated with other strains of the cannabis Sativa plant that contain high levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC.
Hemp, by definition, contains <0.0mg THC by dry weight and is often used in forms of CBD Hemp oil, cosmetics, etc. It’s only hemp if it has <0.0mg THC! On the other hand, it does contain high levels of CBD, another major cannabinoid found in this particular family of the cannabis Sativa plant. CBD has been, time and time again, proven to be non-intoxicating.
CBD has been studied for its many potentials in many applications. Therefore, industrial hemp should not be the victim of drug regulations, as it fails to provide the “high effect” attributed solely to THC. Fortunately for us, researchers are continually pushing to create common-sense policies that allow for the growth and processing of industrial hemp for its use as a clean energy source.