There are too many uses for hemp to be thoroughly covered in one piece. To cover all of the former and current uses, we’d have to write a book or do a series of articles. We will start with briefly exploring some of our favorite and most interesting applications of a plant we know too little about.
We’re expecting an increased focus on studying and researching this marvelous plant over the next several decades. We need to learn a lot more about it since the research indicates that it very well may be a miracle plant.
Currently, the most popular use of hemp is as a dietary supplement. This is a broad category that we need to briefly drill down into to give you a better idea of what people use it for.
One of the oldest things hemp has been used for is fabric. Surprisingly, it’s one of the best fabrics in the world. It’s been one of the world’s best fabrics for several millennia.
The youth of today aren’t aware of hemp’s greatness. They are part of the cotton generation. If you ask a kid what the most popular fabric is, I bet your bottom dollar they’ll say cotton. It’s probably the one of the only fabrics they know anything about.
The durability of hemp is much greater than the durability of cotton. It’s also naturally mildew resistant, which cotton is not.
Since it makes such a reliable and resistant strand of fabric, it’s been used to make all sorts of products.
Fun Fact #1: Our nation’s very first American flag was composed of hemp (1).
The clothing industry used to revolve around hemp. It was the golden standard before cotton replaced it. Cotton is softer, which is a large part of the reason it dethroned hemp as the new golden standard for clothes.
Hemp was also the first known fabric for making ropes. It’s durability and water resistant properties made it an ideal choice for making ropes. Ropes are extremely important for sailors, and they relied on hemp to doc their ships securely and hold their sails in place. That’s an important job and hemp was the perfect choice for the position.
Fun Fact #2: Levi’s denim jeans were first composed out of hemp (2).
Any other item that was made of fabric was probably once composed of hemp. It was the most important crop in America for a period of time. Some of the most prominent men in America owned hemp plantations, George Washington being one of them (3).
Hemp has a very unique and well-rounded nutritional profile, making it a great additive for cosmetics. It’s rich in protein, phytonutrients, and essential fatty acids. These nutrients are what gives it its emollient properties.
It does a great job of penetrating deep beneath the surface of your skin to thoroughly moisturize it instead of providing a surface level of miniaturization like common household lotions. Using lotion with hemp as an ingredient should yield softer skin.
Before the world got hooked on petroleum, it was hemp oil fueling some of the worlds needs. It was commonplace to have a lamp that was powered by hemp oil.
We have no need for oil lamps in modern society, but hemp can still play a role in our fueling needs. It’s main use in the fueling industry today would be to make flex fuels. It’s funny that hemp would be considered a flex fuel, because it was actually supposed to be the original fuel for car engines. Interestingly enough, but not surprisingly, the Ford Model-T was made out of hemp. Hemp was the go to back in the good old days. It’s strength and lightweight nature made it a great choice for the Model-T.
This one hurts my heart. Hemp is the best known plant for making paper. It’s a more economical option than trees because it grows back so fast and actually makes more durable paper.
Hemp used to be the golden standard for paper, among many other things. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that trees dethroned hemp as the defacto standard for making paper.
Fun Fact #3: The Declaration of Independence was drafted on paper made of hemp by Thomas Jefferson (4).
Hemp paper is also more energy efficient to recycle and can be recycled more times than tree pulp paper because of its durability. According to the company, Living Tree Paper, recycling their hemp paper uses 43.96% less energy than recycling virgin pulp paper (5). That could be a big cost savings for the world, lessening the burdensome impact of the paper industry on the environment.
If you’re a rich person and want to impact the world, using your money to incentivize these big paper companies to switch over to hemp could make a real impact