Hemp, what is it really? It just seems to blend into the background of packaging labels or stamped across the forehead of every ‘healthy alternative’ there is out there. It genuinely is a great material. But why has it not been championed in the world as a primary resource for staple goods? This article outlines all things hemp and all the products you didn’t know were made of it.

Why not hemp?

If hemp is such a great option, why aren’t we using it on a daily? The answer to that is simple; hemp production is a gigantic threat to a variety of different industries.

Marijuana tax act

In 1937, a number of different American businesses decided that the cannabis plant posed a massive threat to their businesses. As a result, people like Harry Anslinger and the Dupont family worked to draft the Marijuana Tax Act, taxing the plant and spreading fear. So instead of using hemp for making products like the rope used on ships, people started using Dupont’s newest invention; nylon.

Why Hemp?

Regardless of what it is you are making, using hemp is beneficial because it cleans the environment. From the second that seed sprouts, hemp works as a carbon sink, cleaning the air and soil. Not only that, but any chemicals extracted are also held within the plant structure, safe for use as a material ingredient. If we started to make different products out of hemp, we would need to grow a lot of it. As an added benefit, we could have a cleaner environment, without compromising the end result. On top of that, hemp is:

  • Cheap 
  • Easy to grow 
  • Quick to produce (crop yielding in 2-3 months)

Sunscreen

Sunscreen
Photo Credit: Kane Roberts

The hemp plant is a great base for zinc oxide. The oil that is extracted from it then becomes a prime product for skincare on most skin types. It adds moisture, without clogging pores, even for oily skin!

Hemp Milk

Hemp milk
Photo credit: Kane Roberts

Hemp milk is one of the best non-dairy options. It contains protein, lots of calcium, and omega 3 and 5 essential fatty acids. The protein from hemp milk is easy for the body to digest and it even has more calcium than dairy milk. On top of that, the milk has a nutty flavour profile and a creamy texture. What’s not to love.

Protein Powder

Hemp protein powder
Photo Credit: Kane Roberts

Hemp protein powder is made by grinding hemp seeds into a fine powder. It is loaded with proteins that are easy to digest and it also contains all 9 amino acids, fatty acids, and fibre. Not only is this a highly nutritious food source, but it’s also extremely sustainable, easy to grow, and producing it is good for the environment.

Textiles

Textiles made from hemp plant
Photo Credit: Kane Roberts

Hemp fibres are pretty solid and very easy to turn into rope or fabric. Textiles produced from hemp feel slightly rough against the skin compared to cotton, but it can be conditioned to quality of softness. On top of that, the properties of hemp textiles are also quite superior:

  • Durable
  • Resistant to pilling
  • Strong
  • Insulating
  • Highly absorbent

Cloth Diapers

Needless to say, disposable diapers create waste. The biggest difference between disposable and cloth diapers is absorbency. Fabric made from hemp os far more absorbent than cotton, making it more effective in preventing rash, leaks and overall discomfort.

Cloth diapers
Photo Credit: Kane Roberts

Bricks

One of the most phenomenal building materials that are tragically underutilized, hemp makes awesome bricks. All the parts of the plant can be mulched, mixed with sand, water, and poured like concrete. Both insulating in the winter but cool in the summer, it only takes up to three months to cheaply grow your home.

Biodiesel 

Basically, hemp seed oil can be converted into a substance that can be burned as fuel; this is known as biodiesel. Very similar to the way that ethanol is blended with gasoline, biodiesel gets mixed with regular diesel. The ratios can vary but either way, this can be used in any conventional diesel engine, including cars, trucks, and home furnaces. Using biodiesel is beneficial because it’s a sustainable, cleaner-burning fuel. In fact, running pure biodiesel has been shown to reduce emissions by up to 75%. On top of that, hemp biodiesel has solvent properties and will clean dirt from an engine while fueling it. 

Biodiesel

Cars 

Before Cheech and Chong, Henry Ford was doing it. In 1942, Henry Ford created a car that was not only made from hemp, it was powered by hemp-ethanol.

  • The prototype was made entirely of hemp plastic and weighed 300 pounds lighter than comparable models at the time.
  • The panels of the car were composed of 70% cellulose fibres and proved to have an impact strength ten times stronger than steel.

Today, companies such as Renew are creating cars with the goal of being “carbon neutral”. Made popular by Jay Leno, these cars are made with hemp fibres and available in three models, the Canna 225, Canna 525, and the Canna EV.

In 1941, Henry Ford said that he believed we would one day “grow automobiles from the soil”. As it turns out, that day is here. 

Cars
Photo credit: Kane Roberts

It’s amazing to think that we can find the materials to feed, clothe, shelter, transport and fuel us, all within one plant. On top of that, it only takes two to three months to grow to term and producing it cleans the air and soil. Hemp is incredible, and it’s high time we start to utilize it for making more of the products we use every day.

The author would like to thank Photographer, Kane Roberts, for providing the original photos used in this article. More of their work can be found at www.thewayarchive.org