From the Ground Up
The roots of the hemp plant are one of the most impressive parts about the hemp plant. It is often times considered the most useless part of the plant. That being said, the roots are incredibly useful because they allow the hemp plant to “cleanse” the soil. Removing toxins from the soil is beneficial in many ways. It allows for a more bountiful harvest for the next crop you plant, and helps to stop chemicals from leaking into the soils.
For example; if there is a hurricane that causes a lot of pollution with its storms, this could really hurt the harvests of any farmer for multiple seasons! However, if hemp is planted, it will cleanse the soil so the farmer can plant again. While the roots aren’t used as often as other parts, they can still make a big impact when it matters most.
Just Above the Surface
Above ground the first thing you will find is the straight, and strong stalk. The main stalk is where the long fibers are found. The long fibers are just under the green “skin” of the stalk. Long fibers are one of the more commonly used parts of the hemp plant, and can produce a wide array of products.
The most common of these products, and most obvious use, is rope. Where there’s rope there’s also clothes. This was one of the first uses of hemp, dating back to as far as 8000 BCE! Clothes made from hemp are often some of the most durable in the world, so it’s no wonder our ancient relatives used hemp clothing.
One of the reasons for this durability is the natural anti-microbial nature of the fiber, meaning it doesn’t grow mildew. This means its one of the best materials for sails and other ropes that need to be near water. These days, it’s also often used for tarps, and cloth umbrellas. It also is one of the best insulation materials on the planet, and even holds its own against fiberglass!
Finally, the fibers can be used to create one of the most important creations for human evolution, paper. Hemp paper is strong and hard to bend, making great for things like business cards, sketch paper, painters canvas, awards, and other important documents.
The long fibers are truly incredible, and have been used to create some of the most important parts of our history.
What’s at the Center?
I know what you’re thinking. If there’s a long fiber, where’s the short fiber? Okay, maybe you weren’t thinking that, but now that we’re on the subject we can dive into the innermost layers of the stalk. The short fibers are much stiffer than the long fibers, and not long enough to be made into most clothes or paper.
Short fiber is also incredibly absorbent, making it one of the best materials for shipping goods that shouldn’t get wet. In the olden days, the short fiber was mostly used as animal bedding. After the industrial revolution it found a new use, building materials. Short fiber can be smashed together to create one of the most durable OSB plywood type boards. This means you could build an entire building out of hemp!
Another common use for the short fiber is in biodegradable plastic. While the plastic is biodegradable, it retains its strength well and is one of the strongest biodegradable plastics in the world. If we had used more hemp plastic, the world would not be nearly as polluted as it is today.
The Most Competitive Plant
Did you know that hemp is often called weed? The reason for this, is simply because it’s one of the fastest growing plants on the planet. Certain species of hemp can grow as much as 15 feet in 12 weeks! Why does the hemp plant grow so fast though? The answer lies in the iconic five fingered leaves. The leaves of the hemp plant are one of the fastest oxygen producing leaves of any plant. On average, these leaves put out three times as much oxygen as tree leaves.
The leaves have far more uses than oxygen production, come harvest time. The leaves have been used in tea for centuries to produce a calming effect, similar to chamomile. They can also be juiced and added into foods for added health benefits. The leaves also make good compost, and can be used to fertilize other plants.
This means that hemp doesn’t just make the planet healthier, it also makes you healthier!
Speaking of Health Benefits…
The hemp seed is one of the healthiest super foods you can eat. They have a 3: 1 ratio of omega-6, and omega-3’s. Hemp seed also has a high protein count, making it a great food to eat after working out. With the recommended balance of fatty acids and more protein than a soy bean they must taste gross right? Wrong, hemp seed is considered to be much tastier than soy beans.
The seeds are technically classified as a nut, making them a great way to give all these health benefits to certain pets, such as birds. The hemp seed contains about 30% oil that can be used in pasta, drizzled over popcorn, or used as a salad dressing.
Hemp oil is also a great moisturizer and can be used in making soaps and shampoos to promote healthy skin and hair. In colonial times, hemp oil was often used in lanterns. Queen Elizabeth used hemp oil to help alleviate menstrual cramps. This oil even finds industrial use, and can be used to produce bio fuel, machine oils, and paints.
I for one, think that it’s amazing that one plant has served humanity as much as the hemp plant has. From the beginning of human history we have been using hemp, and I’m certain we will continue to use it as long as we stick around on our little blue rock called Earth. I’m sure there are plenty of things I left out considering there are more than 1000 uses for hemp. Bruce Dietzen built an entire car from hemp, and even used hemp bio fuel to power it. The car was even featured on CNBC’s hit show Jay Leno’s Garage (below)
If you happen to know something I left out, or have any questions leave a comment below so that other readers can learn even more! Thanks – Korbyn