Hemp is conceivably best known for its Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids that make it an excellent addition to a healthy diet, or perhaps as a cotton substitute used in the manufacturing of ecologically-sound clothing. But it can also be manufactured into a vast array of resourceful, environmentally-sound building materials.
Hemp is typically categorized as a long or bast fiber crop with its stem consisting of an outer skin that contains long, strong fibers and a hollow wood-like core or nucleus. When the stems are processed it results in two different types of materials: hurds and fibers, both of which possess properties that make them extremely useful in building construction.
The hurds themselves are derived from the inner short fiber and are capable of being used in the manufacturing of numerous wood-like, earth-friendly, long-lasting building materials, such as fiberboard, roofing tiles, wallboard, paneling, insulation and bricks.
A material of stone-like strength that is commonly known as "hempcrete" is also produced using the hurds of the hemp stalk which is claimed to be up to seven times stronger than the traditionally used concrete, half as light and three times as elastic.
The added bonus of using the superior strength and flexibility of concrete manufactured with hemp hurds is that foundations which are constructed using these particular types of materials are resistant to stress-induced cracking and breaking, even in earthquake-prone areas such as the state of California.
The hemp-based building material is known for its self-insulating capabilities; also for the fact that it is resistant to rotting, rodents and insects; and extraordinarily fireproof, waterproof and extremely weather resistant.
You can also manufacture manmade hemp stones by merely wetting the stalk's cellulose, and forming it into a hard black rock, which can be cut, drilled, cast, carved or formed into any shape and used as an alternative to natural resources in applications such as landscaping. Maybe California residents should consider building a Freddie Flintstone style house that is constructed entirely with hemp-based concrete; just a thought.
When hemp hurds are mixed with a combination of lime products, they can produce a light weight insulating plaster, which can be cast around a timber frame or even sprayed against a wooden or stone form. In France, the use of hemp plaster is quite common, partly due to its high insulation properties, but also because it works very well in old stone buildings.
The hemp plant's bast fibers offer numerous manufacturing possibilities as well such as being used in textile production and in oriented hemp board panels, in making interior panels for automobiles, rope, paper and much more.
In order to produce textiles using hemp's bast fibers several successive procedures are involved, but may be combined in one mechanical process with the proper equipment.
Traditionally hemp was retted, or wet treated with microbes to loosen the lignin binding the fibers, then it was scutched to separate the dry fiber from the rest of the stalk, hackled to comb the fiber, which aligns and separates bundles of cellulose into strands, then drawn five passes to make a continuous strand, called a sliver. The sliver was then roved to twist it slightly before being spun, woven and dyed.
Back in 1919, a man by the name George W. Schlichten developed an all-in-one machine that combined all these procedures and produced a soft sliver from dry unretted stalks.
In difference to this high value processing procedure which Mr. Schlichten's machine-made possible and is essential to producing textiles, the use of hemp in building materials can actually utilize the plant's lower quality fiber such as that left behind from hemp seed grain production, and the amount of processing to reach the final product takes only a few stages.
Farm processed cellulose would run through a hammer mill or fluted rollers, much like gears, to mechanically decorticate the hemp, which separates the hurds from the long bast fibers and adding the farm-conducted procedure would offer the farmer an opportunity to reap further benefits from his final harvest. Ah, what a fantastic sight that would be, to witness United States farmers working fields of hemp once again.
The hemp plant's advantageous attributes to mankind appear to be endless with new discoveries continually being made worldwide. It offers an abundance of astounding building material possibilities, the capability of producing numerous earth-friendly textiles, a plethora of nutritious seed foodstuffs and the fact that it possess the potentially lifesaving molecule Cannabidiol, which may quite possibly be the hemp plant's most vital aspect of all.
Keep in mind that you are the only person keeping your voice from being heard, so become actively involved at a hemp roots level and help bring an end to this antediluvian war on a substance that could indeed have a profound impact on our society and economy.