First off, we need to know: What is hemp? Hemp is a plant and a member of the cannabis family. In other words, it’s related to marijuana. However, the two are quite different. While marijuana is high in THC and can cause a high, industrial hemp is non-intoxicating. It contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.
Industrial hemp has become famed lately for its use in creating CBD hemp oil. But this isn’t the only thing for which hemp comes in handy. In fact, hemp has a long history and a vast range of uses. There are also many hemp oil uses, but they will not be our focus today.
In this article, we will be exploring all the ways you can use industrial hemp. Some of them might blow your mind!
What Can Hemp Be Used for?
Hemp used to be really important. Humans have used hemp for thousands of years, producing a wide variety of products. It even used to be mandatory for cultivators to dedicate a particular portion of farmland to hemp farming – that’s how useful this crop is!
Hemp plants are incredibly versatile. It’s quite unfortunate that hemp was outlawed alongside marijuana because we can make a massive number of products out of hemp. Now, people are waking up to the usefulness of hemp; we are seeing a definite increase in the number of hemp products available.
So, let’s look at some of the primary uses for industrial hemp.
A considerable portion of hemp products falls into the category of food. You will often see hemp seeds featured in healthy recipes. You can buy hemp seeds with the shell or de-shelled; these are often called hemp hearts. Other hemp food products include hemp milk (more on that later) and hemp protein. Hemp is surprisingly nutritious!
Speaking of hemp protein, we would be remiss if we didn’t dedicate a whole section to this beautiful plant-based supplement. Hemp protein contains more protein and healthy fats than almond milk, but it’s less calorific than cow’s milk.
In terms of plant-based protein, hemp is one of the best sources. It is known as a ‘complete protein’ because it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that humans must get from food. Complete proteins are rare to find from plant sources. As plant-based diets become more popular, we are likely to see more and more hemp protein supplements appearing.
The hemp vs. cotton debate has been raging on for decades. Before the cotton industry really took off, we used hemp to produce clothes. This is because hemp has fibrous stalks, which are great for weaving into cloth. Hemp fiber is pretty versatile, but its use in textiles and clothing is one of the most common ways to use it.
Prohibition of hemp has meant that cotton took over. However, as people have become aware of the environmental benefits of hemp, some individuals are choosing to switch to hemp clothing. Keep your eyes peeled for organic hemp shirts in the future!
Hemp biofuel is being discussed as a possibility. As we turn our backs on fossil fuels, scientists are looking for a way to make an environmentally and sustainable fuel. Hemp cultivation is becoming more widespread, and as more hemp is grown, hemp could likely become a useful resource.
Hemp fuel is a form of cellulosic ethanol, meaning that the biofuel is made from the fibrous stalks of the hemp.
Not only is hemp a viable alternative to fuel, but it might also replace our plastics. Hemp-based plastics fall into the category of bioplastics, which are not yet widespread. The planet is indeed in the midst of a plastic crisis, so we will definitely need to look deeper into the possibilities of bioplastics in the future.
For now, experts aren’t sure whether bioplastics are a viable alternative for widespread plastic use. However, it might be a good idea to turn at least partially to bioplastics.
Hemp paper has actually been used for hundreds of years. The Ancient Egyptians used hemp to create paper, and the first draft of the declaration of independence was written on hemp paper. It is thought that the first hemp paper was made in China in 200-150 BC – it’s been around for a long time!
Paper can be made from either the long bast fiber (hurd) or the short bast fiber (pulp) of the hemp plant. Hurd is preferred for strength, whereas pulp is simpler to make. Just one acre of hemp may be able to produce the same amount of paper as 4-10 acres of trees over a 20-year cycle. This because hemp grows faster than trees, and it also contains more cellulose.
Not only is hemp paper more sustainable, but it’s also more durable. Unlike the paper we use now, it doesn’t yellow over time. Perhaps we should be looking into creating more hemp paper and hemp toilet paper!
These days, you’ll see a lot of people switching to plant milk rather than cow’s milk. The dairy industry is thought to be harmful to the environment, and of course, lactose is another reason to cut out the cow. While soy milk and almond milk are common choices, hemp milk is definitely a rising contender.
Hemp milk is produced from the seeds of the plant. First, the seeds are blended with water, and then the mixture is strained. This process is similar to making nut milk. Hemp milk has an earthy, nutty taste, and many people say that it is surprisingly creamy.
Plus, hemp milk is packed with protein and healthy fat, while also being low in calories. So, next time you’re thinking about making a switch to plant-based drinks, why not give hemp milk a try?
The hemp plant is extremely hardy and can survive in harsh wilderness conditions. One of its traits is that it’s a bio-accumulator, meaning it sucks things up from the soil.
In 2001, it was discovered that hemp could extract lead, cadmium, and nickel from the earth. In this study, the researchers planted hemp into soil polluted by sewage to conduct the experiment. It was also suggested that hemp plants be grown at Chernobyl in order to clean up the dirt.
If hemp can clean up the land, then it might free up space for crop growth and agriculture, reducing the need for harmful practices such as deforestation. Hopefully, more of these initiatives will crop up in the future.
Pet Food and Bedding
Humans are not the only ones who can make use of hemp. The hemp pet market is pretty big now, with a variety of hemp-based treats for your furry friends. Many CBD retailers actually sell hemp-based pet treats, which is excellent news for those looking to keep man’s best friend in good health.
Hemp pet foods do exist, but you have to be careful. Animals like cats and dogs can suffer if fed a vegetarian diet, so make sure you are giving them plenty of protein and not just hemp! Other vegetarian animals might enjoy hemp, though.
You can also find hemp bedding and hemp dog toys. Since this plant produces sturdy textiles, you can rest assured that you aren’t wasting money on a toy that’s going to be ripped up in two minutes. Hemp bedding can be soft and luxurious for your pet, while also lasting a long time.
Hemp-Based CBD Oil
We couldn’t forget about CBD oil! Cannabidiol is legally extracted from industrial hemp plants, meaning that hemp is crucial to the blossoming CBD industry. There is a variety of hemp oil uses, making this perhaps one of the most versatile entries on our list.
Proponents of CBD claim that it can do all manner of things. As a food supplement, it is intended to help maintain general health and wellbeing. Foodies and nutritionists love CBD supplements in all forms; you can get it as a tincture, a capsule, or even in gummy bears!
There are plenty of ways to consume CBD. But remember, legal varieties of CBD must come from hemp plants, which are low in THC.
Final Thoughts on Hemp Uses
The Hemp Farming Act has made industrial hemp federally legal after years of prohibition. With all the many uses of hemp, it is great to see that this plant is no longer under scrutiny.
Hemp is so versatile. It can be used in textiles, nutrition, construction, the fuel industry, and more. Sadly, it’s still illegal in a couple of states. We hope to see a shift in legislation soon because it really seems like this plant can do it all. It will be quite exciting to see where hemp can take us in the future.