9 Most Interesting Facts About Hemp

There’s so many things to know about hemp!

Grown specifically for industrial uses of its by-products, this incredible plant has been cultivated all around the world for tens of thousands of years. Though hemp contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive compound in Cannabis species, the concentration is not high enough to produce intoxicating effects.

On our Instagram page, we’ve been sharing a whole bunch of interesting facts about our favourite plant. We thought we’d take our 9 favorites and put them together in one place!

Here they are…

 

Fact #1 – Hemp Vs. Marijuana – Is There A Difference?

Both ‘hemp’ and ‘marijuana’ come from the exact same plant. In fact, marijuana is just a slang term for cannabis that was coined in the early 1900’s during prohibition. Though hemp and marijuana are referred to as strains or species of this plant, this is a misnomer.

Nowadays, the names are used interchangeably in respect to the THC level. Hemp differs from marijuana by containing at most 0.3% THC by dry weight – this varies slightly by country.

 

Fact #2 – The History of Hemp

Hemp fibre imprints have been found and dated back to as far as 28,000 years ago, which are believed to be the beginning of a trend that developed over the course of time. Several remnants of hemp fabrics have also been found by archeologists, one of which dates back to 8000 BC in modern day Iraq.  The Chinese also became aware of its uses around 2700 BC. Emperor Shen Nung educated citizens on its cultivation and weaving into clothing. It is believed to be one of the first fibers that was used by humans for clothing.

 

Fact #3 – Refined Vs. Unrefined Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil is derived from pressed seeds of the plant. It is gaining popularity around the world because of its numerous health benefits. After extraction from seeds, it can be processed into 2 variants: refined and unrefined oil.

Refined hemp seed oil is colorless and lacks the distinct flavor of hemp. It is added to cosmetic products because it has a long shelf-life and is more chemically stable. However, once refined, hemp seed oil loses many of it’s nutrients and fatty acids – this is what makes hemp seed oil so good for your skin! That’s why we like to say only use unrefined hemp seed oil for skincare, and keep refined oils for production of innovative new products like bio-biodegradable plastics, or sustainable fuel sources.

Unrefined hemp seed oil has a greenish hue with a nutty flavor. This oil is rich in nutrients unlike the refined version. It has heart-healthy components like Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids. It is rich in antioxidants like vitamin E. It is also great for using as a natural skin and hair care product. We use unrefined hemp seed oil in all of our skincare, hair care, body care, and food products!

You can check out our unrefined hemp seed oil products here

 

Fact #4 – Hemp Seed = Hemp Flour & Hemp Protein

Three main consumables can be made from hemp seed. Including the seed itself, hemp flour and hemp protein are also common forms in which hemp seed can be found. Hemp seeds have to be hulled to derive the edible, nutritionally rich inner kernels. Also known as hemp hearts, they can be added into cereals, salads and yogurt.

Hemp flour is derived from raw hemp seeds. This is after the seeds have their oils pressed out. It is also known as hemp bran or hemp powder. It can serve as a source of gluten free flour with just one tablespoon containing 60% of our daily fibre requirement.

Hemp protein is the full ground hemp seed which means it still contains the oil. It is more nutritious than the flour because of the presence of the oil.

 

Fact #5 – Hemp Absorbs Carbon Dioxide From The Air

Carbon sequestration is the process whereby carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by plants. Plants use the energy from the sun to transform CO2 and water into hydrocarbons in a process known as photosynthesis. This essentially means that capable plants are able to remove carbon dioxide from the air, essentially curving greenhouse gas emissions.
Sure enough, hemp is excellent at sequestering carbon. One hectare of industrial hemp can absorb approximately 15 tonnes of CO2. The then formed biomass can be used for several purposes.

You can read more about hemp and carbon sequestration in our blog post about it here!

 

Fact #6 – Well, theory…


Historical documents and accounts show that the large areas of New South Wales may have been intended for more than just housing for prisoners.  Some believe that this land mass was supposed to be used to support large scale hemp production for the British.

This might seem like a surprise to most Australians since they have become used to thinking of hemp as something criminal. Want to learn more? Check out this article!

 

Fact #7 – Hemp Can Make Plastic!

Biodegradable plastics decompose over time to form water carbon dioxide and biomass. This means they do not persist and clog up the environment . Hemp can be turned into biodegradable plastics through a variety of processes. Once the fibres have been removed from the stem, one of the leftover parts of the plant is cellulose. Cellulose can be used to make a growing number of bio-composites, and is a strong option for sustainable packaging as we move into the future. Hemp grows very easily, which makes it a sustainable means of deriving plastics.

Curious about hemp plastics? We go into more detail here!

Fact #8 – Hempcrete Is Healthier!

Hempcrete is made from a mixture of industrial hemp fibres and limestone. It is very durable and creates a negative carbon footprint. This is due to its ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide. Using hemp for building dates back to ancient eras. Even the Colosseum had some structures made out of hemp. In 2010, the first modern hemp house was built in North Carolina.

At Margaret River Hemp Co, we love hempcrete. In fact, our sister company ‘Hemp Homes Australia’ also does a lot of work with it! Learn more about hempcrete here.

 

Fact #9 – Hemp Can Save The Bees!

Over the years, there has been a rapid decline in honey bee population. This could be terrible for the world’s food supply. Though hemp relies on winds for pollination, it has been found that bees particularly love its pollen.

As bees populations continue to decline, industrial hemp seems like a great option to solve this problem. Hemp is a pest resistant, annual plant so bees can use their pollen and nectar when other crops are not in season.

There’s a lot more to why bees love hemp!

Want to hear what the buzz is about? Read more on our blog post here.

 

Did you enjoy this read?  If so, please share it on your social media to spread the word.  We’d also love to hear any feedback or comments you might have.  Subscribe to our mailing list for more on hemp every week!

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!

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Guys, this is a great read, and so very important to our future.

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