Hemp is an amazing and versatile plant. Here’s 10 facts that you probably didn’t know – and that you probably should know!
With cannabis use surging, hemp has become a popular ingredient in lotions, shampoos, and soaps – most of which promote its healthy, “green” benefits. While some people may be interested in these products because they seem edgy or entertaining, you might be surprised to know that hemp was once one of the most commonly used crops in the world, and was present in almost every household.
Hemp, when grown and used as an industrial product, has no THC content
Let’s get one thing straight. There is practically no THC content in industrial hemp – for example, European Union laws specify that it must contain no more than 0.2 percent THC – definitely not enough to get anyone high! This might be surprising when you consider how closely it is tied to the “stoner” lifestyle, but it’s true.
Also taking into consideration how much production has been impacted by anti-marijuana propaganda, and it is remarkable to consider how much we fear it, when it provides no drug-related dangers.
This is actually a relatively unknown fact, and many farmers are forced to use security systems and guard dogs to ensure that uninformed teenagers don’t steal their cop in a failed attempt to get high.
80% of all clothing and textiles were made from hemp until the early 1800s
Hemp was once so abundant and useful that up to 80% of all textiles and clothing in the world were based on it. With the invention of synthetic fabrics, we are unlikely to see a return to this level of production, but it has seen a recent return to favor as a durable, eco-friendly fabric.
Some of Van Gogh’s famous works are painted on hemp
Hemp was once so widely used that it is part of the world’s most famous and praised artworks. Van Gogh himself painted many of his most famous works on canvas made from its fiber – in fact, the word “canvas” itself derives from “cannabis”!
Hemp was once a form of currency in the United States
Hemp was once such a standard and useful crop that it was considered a form of currency in parts of the United States. Over 150 years ago, farmers could pay their tax bills with it, saving the trouble of selling it for cash.
In fact, you had to grow hemp as a farmer in many places
Hemp has been such a useful crop that at certain points in history, it has been a legal requirement for farmers to grow it. This happened in the United States, as late as the 1940s, and in England in the 1880s, when Henry VIII required all farmers to include a quarter acre in their annual crops.
In the early 1940s, hemp was considered the first “million-dollar crop”
If you picture the crops that drive an economy, you might consider wheat, corn, or even avocados – but hemp set the record in America for being the first named “million-dollar crop” in the 1940s. It was so useful and so profitable before marijuana propaganda that almost any farmer could benefit by growing their own.
We used to make textbooks out of hemp
Hemp was once so popular in the United States that textbooks were printed on it. This may be surprising, but at the time, it was completely normal. It was known as a durable fiber that made lasting textiles and paper, and it made good sense to print valuable textbooks on it.
Partly in thanks to anti-marijuana propaganda, we now use tree-based papers to print textbooks, a much less efficient and sustainable process.
Hemp is a much, much more efficient source of paper than trees
When we think paper, we think trees. But we should probably be thinking hemp. It’s is a much more efficient source of paper fibers than trees are – in fact, one acre can produce as much paper fiber as four acres of trees. As a bonus, paper made from it lasts much longer than paper created from tree fiber.
Returning to using hemp for paper production would allow trees, which require much longer growing times, to do what they do best – including cleaning the air for us.
Hemp can be made into plastics that are great for things like baby toys and pet products
We have all heard about BPA plastics leeching into our food and causing health problems. People of all ages, and especially parents, are becoming more conscious of what containers we use to store and prepare food, and the potential health impact of these choices.
Hemp offers an excellent alternative to these toxins and can be processed into plastic containers that are perfect for baby dishes and pet food. If you have concerns about plastic toxicity, this could be the alternative for you.
Hemp makes great insulation
Hemp makes a great insulator and has been a top choice in recent years for people looking to design and maintain a green home. It is incredibly durable, resists moisture, and adds to the structural integrity of your home. The high fiber content makes it a perfect insulation without having to add additional filler, and it has been used throughout history in this way.
As well as this, it can be made into Hempcrete, a natural alternative to concrete that can be used to build entire houses!
It is also all-natural to grow, making it the perfect green alternative to fiberglass and plastic insulation.
Hemp can be used as a biofuel
Like many other vegetables, hemp can be used to create biodiesel and bioethanol, making it possible to use it as a biofuel. With the development of electric vehicles, biofuels are becoming a slightly less attractive option but is still a reasonable way to power some of the existing biofuel-powered vehicles.
As cannabis use was demonized throughout the 1900s, the crop became much less popular. But this super product is making a comeback, and we have seen a resurgence of production and use. Considering that it has zero THC content, or ability to make anyone high, it is amazing to consider the impact that propaganda had on this essential crop.