Hemp is a commonly used word for the Cannabis crop used in industry rather than the type of Cannabis used for recreational drug use. The simple definition of hemp is a herb. Industrial hemp is produced in many countries in the world, the major producers being Canada, France and China. Hemp is a bio mass which has widespread uses in many industries. It is used in textile industry, paper industry, biodegradable plastics, food and fuel.
Hemp can also be viewed as one of those products which support the objectives of Green Living. This is because hemp is one of those industrial products which do not need any pesticides or herbicides, besides prevent soil erosion and also produce oxygen. They can also be substituted for harmful products containing chemicals and dioxins which decompose very easily.
Hemp is used in clothing by using a blend of flax, cotton or silk and can be put to use in furnishings as well. The inner two fibers are woodier in texture and can be used in non woven items like animal bedding and litter. Research proves that hemp, being a strong and quick growing fiber, can produce 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than flax.
The oil obtained from the seeds of hemp can be utilized in manufacture of oil-based paints, in cooking and also in plastics and creams. Hemp, as a fiber, is a vital raw material needed to produce ropes, sacks and canvasses. Other general uses of hemp include its usage in some countries to strengthen concrete. Hempcrete is that material used commonly in France, which contains hemp and serves as a construction material. Moreover, hemp is used to produce such a bio composite which Mercedes uses in order to manufacture the internal panel in some of its automobiles.
The use of this Asian herb cannot be restricted to one particular industry. Apart from being used in construction work, hemp is also an abundantly used product in food items. It contains about 80% of fatty acids and even larger proportions of amino acids which are necessary for a healthy life. It can be consumed directly in the form of salads or the seeds can be used to produce hemp milk or in baking and even in a range of products varying from cereals to hemp protein powder, non dairy hemp ice cream and many others. Hempseed oil is a dietary supplement and being edible oil it has one of the major advantages attributable to its storage; it can be frozen for longer periods of time and generally does not need any preservatives to retain its quality. Iron deficiency is rampant worldwide and hempseed is viewed as one of the healthiest ways to overcome such deficiency, since it contains calcium and iron along with other minerals. Its anti inflammatory property highlights its use as a medicine as well.
Hemp has more eco friendly benefits to offer which include its properties as a purifier to remove impurities from waste water and other by products. To add to its eco friendly nature, hemp also helps in killing weeds, since it has abundant growth and dense plant leaves. It thus helps to boost organic farming by discouraging the use of herbicides for weed control.
Previously, till the Industrial revolution hemp was used in almost every industry but gradually each industry substituted the use of hemp with the use of some other fiber. Filtered hemp oil was once used to power diesels as well but we do not see that happening now. In the same way, the use of hemp in ropes was replaced by abaca or manila, while its use in manufacturing sacks was replaced by jute. Use of wool and nylon became very common in the carpet industry while synthetics and cotton took over the netting applications. Hemp pulp was once popularly used in paper production and holds very little significance as a raw material to manufacture paper, as with improvement in technology, it is wood pulp which has proven more environment-friendly and also cost effective.
Not ignoring the multitude of ways hemp can be used, it cannot be denied either that the industry does not remain a very large but developments are being made to revive it.