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5 Surprising Uses For Hemp

Industrial hemp has become a wonder ingredient of products that extend far beyond the wellness sector. With its unique properties, there has been no limit to people’s imaginations when it comes to what industrial hemp can be used for, and it helps to make a diverse range of products.

In this article, we are going to be exploring five surprising uses for industrial hemp that you may not have heard of before. Before we dive into looking at some of the most unexpected uses of hemp, let’s take a moment to briefly recap on what industrial hemp is and where it comes from.

Industrial hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that typically has a low THC content. Tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. Industrial hemp will usually have a THC content of less than 1%, whereas marijuana can have a THC content of anywhere between 5% and 10%, which is responsible for the “high” that you can experience.

Industrial hemp can grow in places where other crops cannot. It has the unique ability to withstand prolonged periods of drought, excessive heat, and frost. The crop also doesn’t require a large amount of water to grow, giving industrial hemp a reputation for being a fairly low maintenance crop.

You are likely to have heard about hemp-based foods and beverages. From protein powder and marshmallows to hemp tea, milk, beer and wine, industrial hemp has captured the imagination of food producers across the UK. These products can often be consumed as dietary supplements because they are highly nutritious and rich with essential fatty acids.

However, when it comes to the applications of industrial hemp, food and beverages are just the start. Rather than listing every single possible application of industrial hemp, we are going to tell you about the five most surprising uses for this cannabis-derived product.

The vast majority of solar panels on the market are made from silicon, which can be rather expensive to produce. Graphene can also be used to produce solar panels, but like silicon, it comes at a price. Hemp solar panels can be much more cost-effective than silicon or graphene solar panels and are usually easier to manufacture.

The waste fibres in hemp crops can be transformed into high-performance energy storing devices. With solar panels becoming increasingly popular, solar panel manufacturers are going to be looking for ways to cut costs and bring additional layers of efficiency to their production process. Going forward, we believe that industrial hemp could play an important role in the mass production of solar panels.

Hemp has been used in clothing for thousands of years, dating all the way back to 8,000 BC. In China, the legendary emperor, Shen Nung, taught his people to cultivate the cannabis sativa plant and use hemp to create clothing.

The strength and durability of industrial hemp can help clothing products to last longer. However, these characteristics have fuelled the misconception that hemp makes clothing feel tough, inflexible and rigid, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, over the years, fashion designers have worked incredibly hard to ensure that hemp fabric has the same soft and comfortable texture as cotton.

It’s time to introduce you to hempcrete. This is a biocomposite material that is used for building construction and insulation. When it comes to building construction, the use of hempcrete can have several advantages over other materials. Hempcrete lacks the brittleness that is often associated with concrete material. Therefore, hempcrete does not require expansive joints to hold parts together during temperate-induced contraction and expansion. In certain climates, hempcrete is also the perfect alternative to concrete.

Hemp fibres can be used to make cars, bicycles, and even aeroplanes. There really is no limit to what can be achieved with these fibres. Leading figures in the automotive industry have been experimenting with industrial hemp for years. In 1941, Henry Ford produced the ‘hemp car’ which was made from hemp fibre and plastic, resulting in an extremely sturdy car body that was lighter than fiberglass and ten times tougher than steel.

A hemp bicycle was also developed by Nicolas Meyer from Onyx Composites. It was primarily created as a prototype to show that hemp fibre can be used as an alternative to glass or carbon fibre, making the production process of a bicycle far more sustainable. Typically, the process of manufacturing a bicycle with carbon or glass fibres requires a significant amount of time, with the materials having to be melted down at a high temperature.

In contrast, hemp fibre is much easier to use and is also renewable, bringing sustainability to the forefront of Nicholas’ bicycle design. As sustainability becomes an increasingly important issue, it’s possible that we could eventually see hemp fibre bicycles enter mass production.

Biofuel can be produced from industrial hemp. It simply involves taking hemp oil and processing it into biodiesel. This all stems from the same concept of vegetable oil being used as engine fuel. In 1895, Dr Rudolf Diesel designed and developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. You can take the same fundamental principles of this concept and add hemp oil to the equation. Hemp oil doesn’t generate any sulphur emissions, unlike other types of fuel.

We hope that you enjoyed finding out more about some of the most unexpected applications of industrial hemp. In many cases, industrial hemp is a sustainable alternative to the use of other products, particularly in regards to clothing and fuel. In the coming years, we expect the use cases of industrial hemp to continue to grow.

Date Uploaded: June 23, 2020
Last Updated: January 15, 2024

Morgan, J. (2014). Hemp fibres ‘better than graphene’. BBC News. [online] 13 Aug. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28770876.

Sciencedirect.com. (2009). Rudolf Diesel – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/rudolf-diesel.

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica (2018). hemp | Description & Uses. In: Encyclopædia Britannica. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/plant/hemp.

thealiennextdoor (2020). Henry Ford’s Hemp Cars. [online] The Meaning of Water. Available at: https://themeaningofwater.com/2020/10/03/henry-fords-hemp-cars.

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