The hemp industry is gaining popularity with each passing day. We see the plant’s use in almost every sphere of life. This makes us stop and wonder, what are the uses of Hemp?
The hemp industry is one of the oldest industries on the planet. The plant is among the earliest plants to be cultivated by mankind. Turning the pages of history shows us an extensive use of this crop by the then people as inferred from Oki Islands near Japan.
It is an archaeological site that contained cannabis achenes from about 8000 BC denoting the use of the plant. Also, hemp fibre imprints were found on Yangshao culture pottery (Neolithic age in china) dating from the 5th millennium BC.
Hemp paper has been found to be more than 1,500 years old, invented in China in 200 BC. The Chinese later used hemp to make their clothes, shoes, ropes, and paper.
HISTORY HAS SO MUCH HEMP IN IT!
But what about the present-day usability of the plant? Where do we use the wonder crop? What are its added advantages? Is Hemp probably our future super crop?
Top 6 uses of Hemp
One of the most extensive uses of hemp is as fabric. Hemp fibre has been and continues to be, used extensively in items ranging from ropes and fabrics to industrial materials. It was commonly used to make sail canvas. Even the word “canvas” comes from the word cannabis.
Pure industrial hemp has a texture similar to linen fabric. Because of its versatility, it is present in shoes, accessories, clothing, dog-collars, and homewares. China is the world’s largest producer of the crop preceding France. Some other top players of the crop are Australia, Ukraine, Canada, U.S. A, and the U.K.
Hemp Pulp for Paper
Obtaining paper from the pulp is among the best uses of hemp. Compared to wood pulp, hemp pulp offers a four to five times longer fibre, a lower lignin fraction, and higher tear resistance and tensile strength. However, the production cost of hemp paper is four times higher than wood paper which is why it is currently not a popular choice for mass applications.
That said, cultivating hemp for paper provides a possible solution to the present-day deforestation problems. It grows to `10-12 feet long in 4 months time consuming 1/4th the amount of water. This in comparison to timber, is a more sustainable and profitable alternative.
This is one of those uses of hemp that tops the list. Hemp plastic is the number one material of the future. Some series of BMW, Mercedes, and Bugatti has Door Panels that are manufactured from hemp. On removing the fibres from the stem of the plant, we get a remainder of 77% cellulose.
Cellulose is a biodegradable source of plastic. Hemp plastics are ‘bioplastics’ that are lightweight, easily biodegradable, and a potential replacement to many petrochemical plastics whose production generates high CO2 emissions and toxic bi-products.
We can expand the uses of hemp to energy storage. Current studies and experiments indicate promising results of creating supercapacitors from waste industrial hemp fibre. These supercapacitors, created by Dr David Mitlin, from Clarkson University have been able to store 12 watt-hours of energy per Kg.
This is over 2 times high as regular graphene supercapacitors and is cheaper to build. This new technology is promising and with high chances, it can change the way we store energy at present.
Water and Soil Purification
Uses of hemp also extend to a mop crop that remove impurities and unwanted chemicals and substances out of wastewater. This process is called Phytoremediation and is the use of plants for the removal of contaminants in soils, surface water, and groundwater.
That is to say, it can heal the soil it grows in. It naturally resists weeds and insects and, therefore, does not require any pesticides.
An important thing to note is that hemp for phytoremediation should not be used for food or medicine. This is because the roots of the plant have just soaked out toxins from the ground. We can, however, convert it into fuel.
Food and Nutrition
Hemp seeds contain 5% water, 5% carbohydrates, 49% total fat, and 31% protein. A 100-gram serving of hulled seeds contains 586 calories and can provide 64% of the Daily Nutritional Value.
These seeds are also a rich source of dietary fibre, Vitamin Bs, and the dietary minerals manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and iron. About 73% of the energy in the seed is in the form of fats and essential fatty acids, mainly polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic, oleic, and alpha-linolenic acids.
So, there it is. The very many benefits of the crop. It is a shame, and a wonder, that cultivation and processing of hemp is still illegal in most parts of the world. We call it The Wonder Resource for its ability to alone build, feed, clothe, and heal the world.