Putting aside the very well-known fact cannabis can really help lift the blues, it’s interesting to know that one of the most common varieties of this herb – hemp – has many uses beyond the usual ones.
Industrial hemp, a high-fibre cannabis type, is used in the production of a range of things – from clothes, fabric and paper to toothpaste, massage oil, makeup and even table sugar.
It’s important to remember these ‘end products’ made from hemp do not have any effect whatsoever on your state of mind, because they contain no more than 0.3% THC – which is negligible. You would actually need to consume anywhere from 2-20% THC in order to experience a euphoric high.
With that out of the way, here are 15 things you didn’t know were made from cannabis:
The Ancient Chinese were among one of the first civilizations to use hemp for producing fabric and clothing, which goes back to 8,000 BC. Interestingly, there has been a profound interest in hemp for clothing as of late – go to Amazon and you can easily find t-shirts made from hemp, a raw material which particularly used for producing clothes that have a somewhat abrasive texture, such as sports clothing.
Hemp fibre has been used for quite some time for making ropes, because it’s texture and durability are both robust in nature, making it perfect for ropes that may be required on boats and ships or even modern gyms – think battle ropes.
The tensile strength hemp has works very well for making cords. Ambitious sailors, in fact, would use it to make sail canvas nearly a century ago. Not only that, but merchant sailors of old had been sailing the seven seas using hemp sails. Without question, it is one of the most robust and durable materials available today.
The first ever paper made from hemp dates back to nearly 2,000 years ago. Today, hemp has become a highly popular, quickly renewable and sustainable source of pulp for producing paper. Unfortunately, wood still remains the primary source as hemp carries a high processing and manufacturing cost, in contrast. With that said, hemp still is a much better option because both the long and short bast fibre (pulp) of the hemp plant can be utilised for making paper. With wood chopped from trees, on the other hand, roughly 70% of the material must be discarded because only 30% of it can be used as cellulose for producing paper.
Interesting to note is the fact that about 75-90% of the world’s paper was made with hemp as the main source until 1883. From something as simple to tea bags to select items like business stationary, hemp was used for many paper-based products.
Plastic can easily be manufactured from cannabis. Hemp-based plastics, for instance, can be quite easily recycled because they degrade a lot faster than traditional plastics. Hemp can be used for making practically anything that involves the use of plastic – CD/DVD cases, soda cans, furniture, shower curtain liners, car parts – you name it.
Furthermore, hemp plastic is 5x more rigid and 2.5x stronger than regular (polypropylene) plastic. Hemp plastic also does not pose health and safety risks to people and the environment the way conventional plastic materials (glass fibres, for example) do. The hemp plant is highly diverse, which is why there are quite a few varieties of hemp plastic – from 100% biodegradable plastic to infused plastic.
Did you know that batteries made with hemp as the raw material can be manufactured at 1/1000 the cost of current energy systems? In fact, hemp-based batteries can even outlast the current energy storing systems we have in use today. Battery manufacturers everywhere can benefit tremendously from hemp as it is an environmentally friendly, safer and non-hazardous alternative to traditional battery units.
Surfboard manufacturers are turning to hemp fibres for building their products because when hemp is combined with other natural materials, the end product is entirely bio-derived. Plus, the fact that hemp fibres are ultra-resilient and UV-resistant make them a perfect choice for something like surfboards or even skateboards.
In the US alone, an estimated 18 billion diapers are thrown away each year. Now that’s a huge number so one can imagine the cost of disposing every single one in an environment-friendly manner. However, diaper producers can very easily continue to make high-quality products by using hemp because they are still durable, and not as bulky. The anti-microbial, breathable and absorbent qualities of hemp fibre not only provide a very comfortable wear for babies but are also a very eco-friendly alternative.
Hemp being arguably one of strongest, most resilient fibres that exist today, bags made from this cannabis plant are incredibly robust and built to last. But that’s not all – hemp is many times stronger than cotton and also better for the environment. The latter is very resource intensive and generally ‘hard’ on the environment.
One visit to Etsy or eBay and you’ll find a complete assortment of backpacks and school bags made from hemp that could potentially last you a lifetime, no matter how you use them.
Most shampoos today deprive hair of essential oils which are necessary for keeping it healthy and nourished, causing undue irritation, dryness and a host of other scapular skin conditions.
Shampoos made from hemp oil seed, however, are rich in Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, both of which have been shown to have positive effects when it comes to hair nourishment. Hemp oil also contains a good dose of Vitamin E which can curb hair loss by stimulating better blood flow at the hair follicle level.
In fact, hemp oil can stimulate new follicle growth and even moisturise the skin. Cannabis shampoo is a hair care trend that’s worth trying because you’ll never find any of the harsh chemicals that are typically present in traditional shampoos and conditioners.
10. Paint and Varnish
Hemp seed oil can really come handy when it comes to painting porous surfaces such as raw wood. It’s perfect for creating a durable finish since it can be quickly be absorbed by surfaces. In addition, it dries just as quickly, making it a great varnish material.
This may be surprising to know but hemp can easily be used as an alternative to fuel the world, instead of the regular fossil fuel we call gasoline. Hemp happens to be a very environment-friendly and cost-effective fuel crop. Depending on the processing method used, it can produce two unique kinds of fuel: hemp ethanol and hemp biodiesel.
A quick revisit to the Mad Max movies and you might be able to figure out why the term ‘hempoline’ was used to refer to fuel – it’s not just a term the film producers had in the script ‘by accident’ because it refers to biodiesel fuel made from hemp.
12. Purifier for Soil and Water
Industrial hemp extracted from the cannabis plant can also be used to get rid of the impurities from wastewater. This includes excessively high levels of phosphorus from chicken litter, sewage effluent or other undesirable chemicals.
Did you know that hemp is currently being used to get rid of the contaminants at one of the most toxic and radioactive places on Earth, the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster?
Even though far too dense to be used as a standalone baking flour, hemp flour when used along with other flours in a 1:4 ratio can be a very nutritious way to enjoy your favourite baked goodies. Since the flour is derived from hemp seeds, you’re getting a good dose of essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. Hemp flour is also a great choice for those who are gluten intolerant or suffering from celiac disease.
Hemp seeds, when soaked and ground in water, can be used to produce hemp milk. Hemp milk forms a creamy texture and contains no dairy – making for a very refreshing and tasty treat for the lactose intolerant.
Just a single 8-ounce glass supplies the body with folic acid, iron, vitamins A, B12, E, D and more. Flavoured and non-flavoured varieties can be found at many convenient stores today.
15. Animal Food
Hemp-based animal meals can provide livestock with a good dose of the essential proteins they require in order to stay healthy. Hemp contains the globular variety of proteins – edistin and albumin – which means livestock can easily digest them.
Even though corn is the primary livestock feed today, cows are unable to digest it without antibiotic intervention. Hemp, however, poses none of these issues so cows will generally be healthier, live longer and be able to produce much better quality milk – and make for more satisfying steak, of course!
It’s probably fair to say that industrial hemp can turn around our planet for the better. With amazing potential to save the environment and even transform the economy, it is the key to a brighter, more prosperous future.