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Hemp – Myths & Realities

Hemp – has there ever been a plant so misunderstood? Even today, if you mention the word around the wrong people, they’ll tell you to take your tie dye and your Grateful Dead records back to the 60’s where they belong. It’s true, there is some controversy surrounding this crop, but the truth is that hemp has the potential to be hugely beneficial to our planet, our economy, and our health. How did we come to believe such inaccurate things about one of the most useful plants in our arsenal?

The word ‘hemp’ had a very different meaning in the ever expanding landscape of medieval Europe. As their exploration efforts broadened, they labeled any fibrous plants they discovered as ‘hemp’, which is why we have so many different types of hemp today: Manila hemp (abacá, Musatextilis), sisal hemp (Agave sisalana), Mauritius hemp (Furcraeagigantea), New Zealand hemp (Phormium tenax), Sunn hemp (Crotalariajuncea), Indian hemp (jute, Corchorus capsularis),Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum), bow-string hemp (Sansevieriacylindrica).

A new layer of confusion was added to the word when the word hemp ‘marihuana’ (today, commonly spelled as ‘marijuana’) was coined and then adopted by the American Bureau of Narcotics in the 1930’s to describe all forms of hemp, regardless of their botanical distinctions. Luckily, in 1998 hemp was been legalized for industrial use in Canada, but the damage done to the public awareness and understanding still remains. So, lets talk about some of the myths surrounding hemp!

 

    1. Myth #1: Smoking hemp will get you high.
      Reality: Industrial hemp contains almost no THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound in Marijuana responsible for the psychoactive effects. In fact, hemp contains high levels of CBD (Cannabidiol), which counteracts the effects of THC in the body. So, you could say industrial hemp is like the anti-drug to Marijuana.
    2. Myth #2: Marijuana crops can be hidden in hemp fields.
      Reality: Industrial hemp and marijuana require very different environments and care in order to flourish. Hemp is grown outdoors, planted close together and grows tall and skinny. Marijuana is short and bushy, and grows best indoors with more space between plants (4-5 feet). Not only would it be extremely easy to spot Marijuana in a Hemp field, but because Hemp contains such high levels of CBD, cross pollination would have a negative effect on the THC levels in the marijuana plants.
    3. Myth #3: Hemp is not an economically viable crop.
      Reality: The market for industrial hemp is growing like a weed (pun intended) and it’s no surprise! Hemp is easy to grown in our cold Canadian climate, it absorbs more CO2 out of the air per acre than trees, and has over 50,000+ known uses. It can be used to make environmentally friendly fuel, textiles, paper, bioplastic, food, medicine, building materials, animal feed, beauty products, etc.

There is a lot of confusion and mythology surrounding hemp, but the benefits of embracing this crop are almost immeasurable. We believe that with some education and awareness, the solutions offered by industrial hemp products will be in high demand! Head to our website where you can read more about this super crop, check out some cool products, and even sign yourself up to get involved in the fast growing market of industrial hemp!

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10 Interesting Uses for Hemp

Humans the world over have used the hemp plant in many forms for thousands of years, and modern processing technologies have given it nearly unlimited applications. To date, over 50,000 applications have been found, and each one of them has the potential to shrink our carbon footprint. Also, since this plant can be easily grown in our unpredictable Alberta climate, it could give our local economy a much-needed boost. There are so many positives to embracing this super plant as part of our everyday lives.

Here’s 10 ways this crop is used today (some of them may surprise you)!

 

10. Pet Food

Whether it’s your 3 pound rabbit or that 500 pound bear you probably shouldn’t have domesticated, all mammals alike need their Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). Hemp oil is an excellent source for all your EFAs, and it is a natural way to improve your pet’s joint health, lower its risk of cancer, and improve their skin and coat. It can be used alongside any medications, and can reduce your pet’s anxiety levels!

 

9. Skin Care

Hemp seed oil’s EFA profile is very similar to our own human skin, making it a perfect moisturizer for any skin type (even sensitive skin). It conditions the skin naturally without clogging the pores, and the anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the appearance of redness and aging! It can be used to treat many skin conditions like dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, acne, and dermatitis. Try it in our popular beauty product line, or if you’re feeling crafty, you could try making your own skin care products!

 

8. Batteries

Traditional batteries use toxic chemicals that are dangerous to humans, wild life and our water sources. Luckily, researchers have demonstrated that hemp bast fibers have the ability to conduct electricity as efficiently as graphene. If you’re electrical engineering knowledge is rusty, think ultra-green and ultra-cheap batteries!

 

7. Wood Finish

Hemp oil can be used as a solvent-free wood finish. Traditional products are so toxic they require a well-ventilated space, whereas hemp oil is environmentally friendly, and smells like freshly crushed walnuts. It preserves the natural color of the wood, and it is safe for food preparation surfaces. Watch a quick video about it here!

 

6. Textiles

Hemp has been used to make clothing for millennia, in fact materials made from hemp were found in tombs dating back to 8,000 BC! It is one of the most durable natural fibers on the planet, and products made from it are long lasting, stretch resistant, mold resistant, antibacterial, light and breathable. It can be ethically produced right here in Canada, so we can sleep well knowing we are making positive consumer choices when we choose hemp. Yay, us!

 

5. Biodegradable Plastic

You can’t shake a stick on the internet without hitting a video of a sad turtle with too much plastic in its diet. Our addiction to plastic disposables is one of the biggest threats to our water and land. If only there were some kind of plant based plastic that is biodegradable, recyclable, durable, carbon neutral and versatile. Oh wait, there is! Hemp plastic and other bio-plastics are rising in popularity in North America. It is lighter, stronger, safer, less expensive and can be molded into any shape imaginable! The possibilities are limitless!

 

4. Hempcrete

Hempcrete (Hemp + Concrete) is an exciting new building material made from a mixture of hemp hurds and lime. This is concrete that literally acts like a living tree; breathing in Carbon CO2 and breathing out fresh, tasty Oxygen. It is also mold resistant, pest resistant, fire resistant and is an excellent insulator!

 

3. Bio-Fuel

As if this plant weren’t already amazing, it is also an environmentally friendly source of biofuel. Hemp biodiesel is a cost effective, environmentally safe and renewable fuel source. When used, it can extend the lifespan of the vehicle because it is more lubricating than petroleum diesel fuel. This application has massive potential for our economy and our environment!

 

2. Motor Vehicles

The world’s most eco-friendly car runs on, and is made of…you guessed it! Hemp! Vehicles made of hemp are 10 times stronger than steel, yet are ultra-light, making them impact resistant AND fuel efficient. Researchers believe that with the rise in environmental concerns, hemp fibers are likely to become a major component of cars around the world.

 

1. Nuclear Disaster Clean Up

For over a decade, industrial hemp has been planted at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. Why? Hemp crop literally cleans and enriches the soil it is planted in by breaking down pollutants and stabilizing metal contaminants. The crop is then used to make biofuel so that none of this plant goes to waste. Hemp is now being sought to help clean up environmental disasters around the world, including Fukushima!

 

It’s plain to see that hemp should not be underestimated. The nearly endless applications of this super plant will mean exciting and positive things for our environment, our economy and our future. Discover the benefits of hemp today!

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Breaking Down the Hemp Crop ~ Part 2 ~ Hurd

Have you hurd the news? Hemp crops yield abundant eco-friendly uses and heal the Earth during the growth cycle.

At the core of the hemp stalk is the hurd, a wood like material also referred to as shives.  It is surrounded by the hemp fibre or bast which you might have read about in our last blog post.

Hurd History

The uses of this part of the crop are astonishing.  From construction materials to paper products, the benefits are just starting to be enjoyed once again in the North American market.

While its roots go back milleniums, due to different laws and regulations, not all countries have been able to enjoy this resilient, eco-friendly raw material at liberty in the last century.

Luckily, with public awareness and evolving regulations surrounding hemp, it is only a matter of time before production gears up and positive impacts are realized yet again.

Saving Forests

Since hemp can be used to make paper, it relieves stress on forests as an alternative to clear cutting trees for consumer products. The cellulose rich centre of the crop combined with the strong hemp fibres create a long lasting, chemical free option in the paper industry.

Sustainable Building

Hempcrete is a wonderful option as a carbon neutral construction material.  When hemp hurd is mixed with water and lime, great things happen.  Canadian company Just BioFiber highlights details on the carbon sequestration features of their building block in this article.    

Making the Most of our Miracle Crop

The hemp stalk, made up of hurd and fibre, is already being commercialized in Canada, however we are nowhere near full capacity.  Entrepreneurs are coming together with innovative solutions, and amazing products are being created.

HempE founder, Cyndal Johnston, visited with Dan Madlung of BioComposites Group in Alberta who shed a little light on the end products derived from the hemp stalk.

Biomass Fuels

As if the above mentioned uses weren’t enough, the stalk can also be converted into hemp biomass as a fuel source.  In fact, Henry Ford reaped the reward of hemp as a fuel source near 100 years ago.  

You might be wondering, why didn’t the idea stick?  That’s a bit complicated and goes back to issues of legality and economics.  

The Future is Green

The more we learn about hemp, the more we fall in love with this miracle crop.  From its many uses to its carbon sequestration and soil cleaning capabilities, demand is inevitably going to grow.

Though its commercialization still faces constraints in some parts of the world, once those barriers are broken, we’ll be growing our way to a cleaner, greener future.

How do you support the hemp industry? Join the conversation on our Facebook Page – HempE Health & Beauty.

About the Author ~ Leah Feor
Leah is a strategic advisor and content creator for Simply Sustainable™. Balancing a triple bottom line for organizations and individuals is her utmost goal. She’s a big picture thinker with an eye for detail. Her passion for the environment and social impact bring her business background to life. Outdoor adventures, healthy living, and continuous learning are just a few of her favourite things. simplysustainableblog.com