The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill has opened up a whole new world of legal hemp cultivation in the U.S. While it has been decidedly illegal to cultivate for almost a century, hemp has a history that dates back some 10,000 years, with many contending that it’s the world’s oldest cultivated crop. In 1977, Carl Sagan even suggested that cannabis could be what led to the development of civilization as we know it.
While this might seem a bit extreme, hemp has been used longer than pretty much any plant that exists and CBD oil is only one of its many uses. These days most people associate hemp with CBD. Who could blame them? CBD is everywhere, and hemp has made a huge comeback because of it.
Yes, CBD is awesome. But it’s not all that can be harnessed from the hemp plant. Whether you’re interested in learning how to grow hemp once cultivation regulations are established, starting a CBD business of your own or are just curious to see how much potential hemp holds, we invite you to explore the other uses for hemp besides CBD.
5 Other Uses for Hemp Besides CBD
When it comes to versatility, hemp could be the most multipurpose plant that exists. According to some, there are an estimated 25,000 products that can be made from hemp. While we won’t go into every single one here, we will cover some of the most prevalent uses of hemp aside from the most popular (which of course is CBD).
Hemp fiber has been used for thousands of years and is speculated to be one of the earliest plants cultivated for this purpose. Archaeologists, for example, found a scrap of hemp fabric from ancient Mesopotamia (Iran and Iraq) that dates all the way back to 8000 BC. During the period of the Sung dynasty around 500 AD, there is evidence that Emperor Shen Nung trained his people to cultivate hemp to create cloth.
Hemp fabric has come a long way since it was first made in early civilizations. Once considered the poor man’s pick of textiles (because of how rough it was), today hemp is made just as soft as cotton. It’s also a lot safer.
Were you aware that cotton is one of the most chemically intensive crops that exists? Non-organic cotton production is responsible for using a large percentage of insecticides worldwide, not to mention the host of synthetic chemicals required for processing. Here’s something else. Hemp uses 50% less water than industrial cotton.
Gone are the days when hemp fabric was reserved for barefoot hippy fashionistas donned in tie-dye. Today, hemp fiber is spun into fabric used by some of the highest end fashion designers in the world. Ralph Lauren. Hermes. Versace. Donna Karan. Calvin Klein.
With new hemp cultivation legislation on the distant horizon, hemp clothing could soon make a bigger comeback than anyone might’ve ever expected.
Don’t believe us? It’s already being made into clothing, shoes, sunglasses, ski and snowboard goggles, belts, backpacks, purses and more. Once it’s legal to grow in the U.S., we imagine the market for hemp-based clothing and other textiles will expand even more so.
Hemp seeds just so happen to be one of the most nutritional foods you can find. Researcher and biochemist R. Lee Hamilton of UCLA once honored the “life-giving values” contained in hemp and proposed it could be the end to world hunger.
Just how nutritious are hemp seeds? According to the USDA, one tablespoon of hemp seeds that weighs 30 grams contains the following:
- 166 calories
- 14.62 grams fat
- 9.47 grams protein
- 2.6 grams carbohydrates (1.2 grams fiber/.45 grams sugar)
- 21 milligrams calcium
- 210 milligrams magnesium
- 2.38 milligrams iron
- 495 milligrams phosphorus
- 360 milligrams potassium
- 2.97 milligrams zinc
- 33 micrograms folate
Hemp seeds also contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate. Hemp seeds are also abundant in the essential fatty acids the body needs for optimal levels of health and wellness.
It’s no wonder many consider hemp seeds a superfood.
Sure, hemp seeds can be eaten raw (and are amazing sprinkled over a salad or added to superfood smoothies), but they’re also used to make countless food and drink products. Hemp milk, hemp ice cream, hemp butter, hemp protein powder, hemp flour, hemp burgers and more are all popular hemp food products available on the market.
Hemp beer is something else becoming more popular. Will legalized hemp in the U.S. lead to more craft beer created from hemp? It’s certainly a big possibility.
Did you know that U.S. paper producers use one billion trees annually? Not only has this led to significant deforestation (only 5% of virgin forests remain in the U.S.), but the paper-making process is one of the largest environmental polluters that exists.
Aside from deforestation, traditional paper production is associated with serious emissions to the environment, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides. Carbon dioxide is associated with climate change, while nitrogen and sulfur dioxides are direct causes of acid rain.
Water pollution due to paper production is another serious issue. For instance, there are three million tons of chlorine that make their way into the water system each year. This is a huge source of dioxins, which are known to be some of the most toxic compounds that exist and are known to cause liver failure, birth defects and genetic damage. It’s said that every woman now has traces of dioxins in her breast milk.
If water isn’t reused or recirculated, a paper production plant can also use up to 35-45 gallons of water per pound of paper.
In steps hemp. Were you aware that just one acre of hemp can produce as much paper as four acres of trees? It can also be grown many times over on the same plot of land. Considering it takes 20-500 years for a tree to grow suitably enough to make paper and hemp can be cultivated in as little as 100 days to do the same thing, growing hemp to make paper seems to make a lot more sense.
Hemp paper also doesn’t require the use of chlorine bleach, lasts hundreds of years longer than paper made from wood pulp and uses significantly less water to cultivate than trees.
Here’s something else. Hemp paper can also be recycled 7-8 times, compared with paper made from trees that can only be recycled a maximum of three.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), there were 142.86 billion gallons of gasoline used in 2018. This is roughly 391.40 million gallons of gas a day. Both regular gasoline and diesel are made from fossil fuels, which are quickly running out.
At the end of 2013, it was estimated there were 1687.9 billion barrels of oil left, which would satisfy 53.3 more years of global oil production. This means that if we don’t take population growth into consideration, there’s enough oil to last until 2052.
Here’s the thing. Hemp production in the U.S. could play an integral role in helping reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. As it turns out, hemp can be converted into two types of fuel: biodiesel and ethanol.
When it’s properly processed, hemp can be converted to biodiesel that can be used in any diesel engine. Hemp can also be converted into ethanol through different methods of fermentation. While corn and wheat are typically converted into ethanol fuel, hemp offers a much more sustainable option for this type of alternative.
Biodiesel made from hemp can be stored and transported just like regular diesel fuel. It is safer to handle and transport, reduces the exhaust odor of conventional diesel to that of the odor of hemp and can extend the life of diesel engines (it’s more lubricating than traditional diesel).
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and others, biodiesel is an excellent low-cost alternative for fuel that satisfies the requirements set out by the Energy Policy Act.
Could hemp offer what we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels? Absolutely. While it won’t solve the energy crisis completely, it does offer an excellent source of renewable energy that is desperately needed.
5. Building Material
Something else that consumes an exorbitant amount of fossil fuels? Building materials. Did you know that hemp can be used instead of petroleum-based, synthetic building materials?
Hemp is already used to make building materials for construction. Hempcrete, insulation and hemp oil wood stain and deck finish are all products that are currently produced for the purpose of building material.
Hempcrete is made by mixing the woody inner core of the hemp plant with a lime-based binder. This creates a firm, unyielding material that can be molded into walls and/or around or between support structures.
Hemp insulation is made by bonding hemp fiber into sheets that can then be cut and fashioned between framing as a renewable substitute for fiberglass and other types of insulation material. It also contains greater insulation properties than traditional insulation.
Hemp oil wood stain and deck finish is made from hemp seed oil. Seeds are pressed to create a non-toxic oil that surpasses other similar stains and finishes as far as weathering is concerned. It also contains extremely low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause liver, kidney and central nervous damage.
According to the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), development of hemp-derived building materials in the U.S. is increasing. We’re bound to see more and more hemp-based building materials that are not only better for the environment but also for our health.
Hemp’s Role in America’s Future
The legalization of growing hemp really has opened up a whole new world. Not only will it help to regulate the rapidly growing CBD industry, but it’s also a plant that could help significantly reduce our environmental impact and lead to the production of countless sustainable products.
There are thousands of uses for hemp other than CBD. What we’ve covered here are but a few ways that hemp could shape the future—not only of the U.S. but also on a global scale.
It’s no secret that we’re wild about CBD. We’re also thrilled about hemp and the seemingly limitless potential it provides. With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, it’s only a matter of time before we begin to tap into this potential and step into a more sustainable world.
Do you have any comments or questions about other uses for hemp besides CBD? We’d love to hear from you!
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Todd Smith is Joy Organics Chief Partnerships Officer and Co-founder. Before Joy Organics, he worked in the wellness and nutritional industry for over three decades and helped generate over 1 billion dollars in supplement sales. He has applied that knowledge and experience to empower over 1000 businesses through Joy Organics’ partnership programs. Todd is also the author of a book, podcast, and blog titled Little Things Matter.