Refined Vs. Unrefined: Hemp Seed Oil

Out of all the resources that hemp can be broken down into, the seed has to be one of the most diverse in application.  

Not only can hemp seed be consumed, but it can also be pressed to yield a nutrient-rich extraction that can be best described as nature’s most perfectly blended oil.

However, it can also be taken one more step that people are often unaware of: refinement.  

This week, we’re going to be looking at the differences between the two types of hemp seed oil and what they can be used for.

 

UNREFINED HEMP SEED OIL

DID YOU KNOW? Unrefined hemp seed oil contains the compound gamma-linoleic acid that helps in the formation of hormones in the body.

Much like the name suggests, unrefined hemp seed oil has not undergone the refinement process. It is raw, and obtained by a process of cold pressing hemp seeds. Cold pressing is a process in which a hydraulic press is used to extract liquid from fruits, seeds, and vegetables without the use of heat). 

By not using heat during the extraction process, thermolabile constituents like vitamins and physical properties like the color and odor are not affected.  The vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and fats are what make hemp seed oil so good for our skin and bodies.

The chemical compounds in the oil that are so healthy for us are as follows;

  • Essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body such gamma-linolenic acid which is an omega 6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid which is an omega 3 fatty acids present in a ratio of 3:1
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids e.g. oleic acid and stearidonic acid
  • Vitamins: it contains Vitamin A, B, and E
  • Antioxidants and 
  • Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc.

All of this nutritional goodness is exactly what makes pure, unrefined hemp seed oil so good for our bodies.  Whether you want to eat it, drink it, or lather it on your skin, you’re going to see all the benefits first hand.  

If you’re consuming it internally, it’s recommended at the dose of 1-2 tablespoon fulls per day.  It can and can be incorporated in the form of a smoothie, soup or in a salad (when the taste is agreeable).

Hemp seed oil also makes  an incredible skincare product. The presence of antioxidants, it is essential in slowing the rate of aging, and giving rise to glowing, radiant skin…  But you can read more about that here!

The unrefined hemp seed oil has a pleasant odor, dark green color, and a nutty taste. It is has a shelf life of 3-6 months once opened, and 12 months bottles. Rancidity can be observed when it is near or has passed the expiration date. This is as a result of oxidation of the fatty acid present in the oil.

DID YOU KNOW? Unrefined hemp seed oil helps to reduce the blood cholesterol level and is perfect for use by people suffering from diabetes.

 

REFINED HEMP SEED OIL

DID YOU KNOW? The refined seed oil is perfect for dry skin because of its moisturizing and emollient properties.

Oils have many uses outside of consumables and cosmetics, as we know.  The problem with hemp seed oil is that it just contains too much healthy stuff to be viable for commercial uses.  That is, until it’s refined.

To remove the nutritional properties of unrefined hemp seed oil, the oil extracted via cold-pressing undergoes a refining process. The quality of this process depends on factors like;

  • How much of the active constituents are removed
  • The noticeable changes in physical properties like color

The processes involve heating the cold pressed oil, which causes almost everything healthy in the unrefined oil to be destroyed.  The major processes that are employed are: 

  • Distillation: a distillation apparatus is employed separates the matrix and the color based on their melting point, a high temperature ( ≥ 2700C) is employed which results in loss of thermolabile constituents e.g. vitamins. 
  • Decolorization: freshly extracted oil undergoes processes to remove the dark green color using absorbents like CarbonX. CarbonX has the advantage of reducing the removal of active constituents. 
  • Winterization: winterization removes the wax and triglycerides that can lead to greasiness. it involves mixing the oil with an ethanolic solution, heating to remove the solvent, and then freezing. Upon cooling, wax and other triglycerides separate out and can be collected through methods such as decantation.

After being refined, the hemp seed oil has a light green transparent appearance, with no odor or taste. 

Refined hemp seed oil still contains major constituents found in the unrefined counterpart, however, due to a high amount of heat employed while refining, thermolabile compounds like vitamins are destroyed.

While many constituents were removed through refinement, is now a great, sustainable raw material for products such as commercial paints, oils, varnishes, and lubricants.  This is due to…

  • lack of odor.
  • Longer shelf life 
  • Less cost. 
  • Less greasy due to the absence of wax, which has been removed using winterization.

The refined oil is employed to manufacture other products such as;

  • Plastics: Plastic manufactured using hemp seed oil are eco-friendly; they are not pollutants during or after use because they are biodegradable. You can read more about hemp bio-plastics on our other blog post here!
  • Bio-fuels: The refined hemp seed oil can be further refined to produce fuels such as ethanol which is an additive to gasoline and is used as fuel for some aircraft.  You can read more about hemp bio-fuels here! 

CONCLUSION

So now you know. 

There’s a lot, isn’t there?  And we didn’t even get into all the different uses for the physical hemp seed itself yet – this is just the oil!

Are you beginning to see why we truly believe that hemp is the most diversely applicable plant on earth?

We’d love to hear any uses for hemp seed oil that we missed.  If you can think of any, drop a comment below!

The History Of Hemp Fabrics

It’s not an exaggeration when we say that hemp is one of the oldest crops used by humans… And as we begin to utilize it once again, we think it’s important to have a better understanding of our history with this incredible plant…

Hemp, commonly known as industrial hemp is a low-THC strain of the Cannabis sativa plant that is cultivated for its variety of uses.  With accounts of use that stem back as far as 29,000 years, it’s earned itself the title of one of the oldest crops to be grown and utilized by humans. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the most notable discoveries that have demonstrated the use of hemp fabrics in civilizations’ past.  

DID YOU KNOW? Hemp creates what is known as Carbon sequestration due to its high affinity for CO2, this process reduces the occurrence of global warming 

 

29,000 Years Ago…

The oldest hemp item that has been recovered belonged to a civilization called the Gravettian people, who lived in what is now known as Spain and Russia. The peoples themselves were first noted around 33,000 years ago and only ended 12,000 years later, which means that they were a very well established society for those times.

The Gravettian people made use of nets and traps in hunting rather than exploiting their speed and strength, they needed a material with the tensile strength to be used in making traps and nets, this they found in hemp. 

In the year 1993, Olga Soffer and James Adovasio recognized the imprints of textiles on four clay fragments, Adovasio detected that the impressions found on these fragments were created by fabrics which were woven from plants such hemp. When the fragments were carbon dated, they were dated to around 26,980 and 24,870 years ago. This demonstrates that the Gravettian people knew how to make textiles from fibrous plants like hemp – and did so to survive.  

Isn’t it amazing to think that such an old civilization could have been one of the first to use hemp for these purposes?  What’s more incredible is that they probably weren’t the first… they’re just the oldest we know so far.  

DID YOU KNOW: Growing of hemp is eco-friendly and it helps to enrich the soil due to the long taproots it has which helps to aerate the soil

 

10,000 Years Ago

In Ancient Mesopotamia, a geographical location now known as Iran and Iraq, remains of cloths which were woven with hemp fibers were discovered by archaeologists excavating the area. Upon carbon dating it, it was revealed that the artifact was from around 8,000BCE – That’s around 10,000 years ago! 

It was only around 1200 BC that the use of hemp came back around to Europe.  From there, the whole world very quickly came to know about this incredible plant.  It became the major crop in the middle ages, which prompted the then rulers to create acts that enforce their citizens to plant it.

Examples of this can be seen in the United Kingdom in which King Henry compelled all owners of lands via an act released to sow a quarter of an acre or else be fined.  There have also been similar laws in colonial America!

DID YOU KNOW? A sustainable environment is achieved by using hemp in the form of processes such as Phytoremediation by which hemp removes toxic materials from the soil

 

300 Years Ago

Some of the most interesting hemp history comes from the age of sail, when it was required in order to clothe armies, make sails for ships, and craft strong rope.  In particular, Russia (Formerly U.S.S.R) had a massive hemp industry. In fact, it was so large that it’s surprising that the history is not more well known. The history of Russia regarding the cultivation of hemp is a very unique one. 

As of the eighteenth-century, Russia was the most extensive and most important producer of hemp on earth.  According to statistics, around the 1740s they dominated the line by producing more than 80% (≥80%) of the world supply of hemp.

The hemp produced by Russia was mainly imported to the rest of Europe, as well as Great Britain. They produced so much that in 1812,  French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was provoked to start what would go down in history as the ‘hemp war’. We won’t go too far into it, but this was a war due to broken trade agreements to do with Russia’s export of hemp to Britain. 

Other countries that are into the cultivation of hemp are Yugoslavia which ranked second, Hungary which ranked third, Poland which ranked fourth and Romania which is ranked fifth. Other countries outside Europe that are recognized as important in the production of hemp are Korea and Turkey.

…But it’s not just old civilizations that have made good use of our favourite plant.  This trend of upward growth continued well into the 1900’s – that is, until cannabis was outlawed by the world’s largest governments.  As shown in the table below, Russia continued to dominate the hemp trade until around the 1950’s. It would be reasonable to suggest that worldwide prohibition of the cannabis plant drastically reduced demand, and in turn the required output. 

Countries That Produced Hemp Fibre 1800s 1900s

 

From Reefer Madness To WWII

It clearly was a time of great fluctuation.  

In 1936, the U.S government introduced the Reefer Madness campaign, which is one of the largest contributors to the demonization and criminalisation of this plant around the world.

Reefer Madness was a series of campaign posters, ads, and a movie released to scare the public away from cannabis. It portrayed hyper exaggerated messages concerning the dangers of using cannabis. 

A year later, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 put the nail in the coffin of the hemp industry.  By the time new taxes were slapped on top of a bad reputation, nobody wanted to grow this plant any more.  That was, until the government asked them too.

It’s said that the Japanese cut off fiber supplies to the U.S in World War II, which caused a shortage of resources to kit out their army with.  The military required textiles for parachutes, uniforms, shoelaces, ropes, and more.  

So, the government asked the people of America to step in and fill that gap with the ‘Hemp for Victory’ campaign. This 15 minute video portrayed the importance of hemp as a commodity, and encouraged farmers to grow hemp as a part of their patriotic duty.

Of course, they tried to bury this soon after. Fortunately, you can still find the video here!

 

Conclusion

Quite a long history, isn’t it?  And we barely scratched the surface!  There are so many incredible stories when it comes to how this plant crossed the globe, and we can’t wait to talk more about some of them.  But as for the history of hemp fabric, did you have any idea that it had been used for so long? Do you think there’s anything else we should add in here?

We love feedback!  Feel free to email us, get in touch on social media, or drop a comment below at any time.  It would be great to hear from you!

Hemp and Sustainability: How Hemp Cleans Soil

Did you know that the cannabis plant is a powerhouse in the field of sustainability?

Our environment is currently hanging in the balance, and the only way to tip the scales in our favor is to start doing more healing the planet than harming it. To us, there’s no surprise in the fact that just when we need it most, hemp is coming through to save the day.  But what does this simple plant offer that’s so critical to our survival?

Aside from being used in the manufacturing of sustainable products and absorbing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, hemp has another use: it can help the soil.

But how?  And are there actual solutions that can be applied on a larger scale here?  Today we take a look.

 

Hemp Has a Deep Taproot

The roots are where a plant uptakes much of its water and nutrients.  Some plants have shallow roots, and some have deeper roots. Plants with deeper roots tend to be more drought resistant, as they can draw water from deeper in the soil.  But the plants aren’t the only thing that benefits from deep roots…

A deeper taproot can also nurture the soil by turning up fresh soil every harvest…  Not to mention the fact that such roots can help clean contaminants from deeper layers of soil.  

Yes, you heard that right.  Plants can clean the soil. In this case, hemp performs especially well at such tasks!  But how?

It’s called phytoremediation.  Say it with us… ‘phyto-remediation’.  So, what is it?

 

WHAT IS PHYTOREMEDIATION

When the plant is used in the process of cleansing of the soil, sediments and water bodies (whether surface water or groundwater) by removing, transferring or stabilizing contaminating materials, it is known as phytoremediation. This falls under bioremediation, which is the use of organisms to remove contaminating materials from the soil and water. Examples of plant used are hemp, poplar trees, and cotton trees

 

HOW DOES PHYTOREMEDIATION WORK

It depends on what your goal is.  There are different types of phytoremediation, and each has specific application to different types of cleanup projects. These are called phytoremediation mechanisms. 

Different plants display different mechanisms, all of which can help heal soil in their own way. 

Here’s a little overview on what we know…

Rhizosphere biodegradation: The act of using plants to produce nutrients that feed microbes living within contaminated soil. In this mechanism, the microbes being fed do all of the cleaning.  They proceed to break down materials that have polluted the soil.

Phyto-stabilization: Plants feed off the contaminating substances, but do not degrade the compounds.  Rather, it inhibits the movement of the materials and isolates them within the plant.  This is not a degrading process, but the contaminated can be disposed of correctly once the waste has been absorbed.

Phyto-accumulation: This is not a degrading process, either.  Also commonly known as ‘phytoextraction’, this method is primarily for waste containing metals and suitable for use when talking about industrial wastes.  

Hydroponic Systems: This mechanism works exactly like rhizosphere biodegradation but can be used to clean up polluted bodies of water. 

Phyto-volatilization: A mechanism in which plants absorb the contaminating materials through the root and release them into the air using their leaves. 

Phyto-degradation: This is a degradative process in which plants can be used to absorb contaminating materials and destroy them in their tissues.

Industrial hemp demonstrates ‘Phyto-accumulation’ (also known as phytoextraction), which can be used to clean up heavy metals and industrial waste.

 

WHAT TYPE OF WASTE CAN ‘PHYTOREMEDIATORS’ CLEAN UP?

Metals most commonly used with this process are grouped into three based on their availability and they are;

  1.       Readily available: they are easily absorbed by the root of the plants used such as zinc, cadmium, and arsenic
  2.     Moderately available: they are not as readily absorbed e.g iron, manganese

iii.     Not readily available: these are heavy metals and nuclear materials such as lead and uranium 

The availability of the metals can be heightened using boosters on the soil. Examples of boosters used are ammonium nitrate NH4NOand citric acid, which are said to boost the ability to intake the nuclear materials ‘cesium’ and ‘uranium’.

After the total accumulation of the contaminating materials/metal, the plant used must not be consumed. Once the plants have been removed from the site, one two things must be done with them:

  1.       The metal content can be obtained from the plant using heat by smelting the plant, at which point the metal contents can be analyzed for recycling or recovery.
  2.     Depending on the level of contamination and the metals involved, the plants can be treated as high-level waste.  Once signed off on, the plants can be disposed of based on legal guidelines on how to treat the removed substances. This is most suitable when talking about more dangerous pollutants – such as nuclear waste.

 

WHAT PLANTS ARE USED AS PHYTO-REMEDIATORS

There are many plants used in Phyto-remediation. While there are no general properties to take note of, most of them have a very long taproot in common.  As we spoke about earlier, a long taproot can benefit the soil by absorbing the waste within it. Then whether it degrades, accumulates, or release the contaminated materials depends on the physiological properties of the plants themselves. 

So, let’s talk about hemp for a second.

Hemp is basically a modern word to describe low-THC cultivars of Cannabis sativa. Has a lot of purposes due to its unique chemical composition, it is a very good phytoremediator due to its very long taproot. It is used in the removal of heavy metals and nuclear waste

 

HEMP IN CLEANING NUCLEAR WASTE

Hemp has been used in numerous areas around the world to effectively demonstrate the phytoremediation properties within plants. Most notably, it was used after the nuclear disaster that occurred in 1986, when more than 100,000km² was labeled radioactive and unsafe to live. The countries involved were Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus – and the contaminated soil could not be used.

In 1998 Phytotech, a company that specializes in phytoremediation, worked in cooperation with the Consolidated Grower and Processors (CGP) and the Ukraine Institute of Bast Crop to conduct an important experiment…

This experiment was testing whether or not it’s reasonable to apply the soil-cleansing abilities of hemp (among a number of other plants) on areas affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It seemed that it was showing promising results, but shortfalls in financing and cases of missing research rendered this experiment ‘lost in the void’.  In ‘Cleaning Soil’, writers actually claimed that Phytotech found hemp to be “most efficient plant useful for eliminating toxins such as metals, solvents, pesticides, residues from explosions, etc. from contaminated topsoil.”

…But we may never know for sure.

CONCLUSION

It’s certainly disappointing that there hasn’t been more research done into using hemp to clean up our earth… or any plant for that matter!  But we hope this will change soon.

As the word starts to spread about the natural tools nature has given us to survive, we anticipate that cannabis will be a much more common name in the up and coming generation of biologists.  Based on how hemp has been used to clean soil in the past, we think it will certainly play a role in cleaning up our environment in the future…

…And phytoremediation is just the start. 

This industry is going to help the environment in more ways than one.  But we’ll get to some others next time.

If you enjoyed this, learned something new, or have something to add, we’d love to hear from you!  Just drop a comment below, or get in touch with us on any of our social media platforms.

Oh, and don’t forget to share!