Uses of hemp

Hemp can be used to make over 25,000 different products.  These include things like clothing, shoes, diapers, rope, canvas, cellophane, paints, biodegradable plastics, paper, fiberboard, building materials (hempcrete), food (milk, protein powder, hemp juice and hemp oil), cosmetics, carpets, insulation, cars, batteries and biofuel.

Hemp Clothing and Shoes:

Hemp is a good source of fabric. Hemp fabric is anti-microbial, has a high tensile strength, breathes better than cotton, and gets softer with age. Hemp has also been shown to be environmentally friendly. One cotton T-shirt requires 720 gallons of water to produce. Hemp requires half as much water. Hemp is also a carbon sink. It can store up to 9.82 tons of carbon dioxide per acre, which greatly offsets the carbon impact of producing hemp fabrics.

Hemp shoes are sustainable as the material is renewable and recyclable. Leather is a highly polluting industry requiring massive amounts of energy and dangerous chemicals, including mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes, some of them cyanide-based. Hemp is a far more eco-friendly option than leather, synthetics, rubber or cotton.

Hemp Paper:

  • Hemp yields three to four times more usable fibre per hectare than forests.  35% of all trees on the planet are cut down for paper. Using hemp for paper instead of wood would mean a huge reduction in deforestation, increased biodiversity and reduced carbon emissions.
  • It takes about 3-4 months for hemp stalks to reach maturity, while trees can take 20 to 80 years to mature.
  • Using hemp instead of wood for paper would end the practice of poisoning Earth’s waterways with chlorine or dioxins from wood paper manufacturing.
  • Hemp paper can be recycled up to 8 times, compared to just 3 times for paper made from wood pulp.

The hemp industry in Ireland

The Hemp industry in Ireland is currently in its infancy but is growing. For more information see the following links:

In 2017 17 licences were issued to grow 76.45 hectares (188.9 acres) of hemp.   In 2018 24 licences were issued to grow 229.83 hectares (567 acres) of hemp.  

Irish companies producing CBD Oil from hemp:

More videos:

Environmental Benefits:

  • Hemp thrives in adverse soil conditions.
  • Its deep roots help to prevent soil erosion.
  • Hemp is the perfect carbon sink. It absorbs more CO2 per hectare annually than commercial forestry.  One hectare of industrial hemp can absorb approximately 15 tonnes of CO2.
  • Hemp helps heal the land and was used to clean up the nuclear spill in Chernobyl, Russia.
  • Hemp can be grown organically. Fibres are hand stripped from the stem – thereby avoiding big factories with smoke stacks and hazardous chemicals.
  • Building materials made from hemp can be used as a substitute for wood. Using hemp-based building materials could reduce building costs and save millions of trees.  The hemp based products are also stronger than their wood-based counterparts.

History of hemp growing in Ireland

Hemp was grown extensively throughout Ireland to make rope, sail canvas, fabric and textiles.   It has a texture similar to linen and was used along with flax to make fabric.  At the height of the linen industry spinning mills were located across Ireland.   In Ulster the linen industry was still thriving until recent times.  In 1866 a pamphlet was produced by George Sigerson which argued that hemp had the ability to revolutionise the Irish economy.

Ideal soil and climate conditions for hemp

  • Soil: Industrial hemp can be grown on a wide variety of soil types.  A deep, well-aerated soil with a pH of 6 or greater is preferred, along with good moisture and nutrient holding capacity.  Poorly drained soils are not recommended.  Hemp is sensitive to flooding and soil compaction.
  • Climate: Hemp prefers a mild climate, humid atmosphere, and a rainfall of at least 25-30 inches per year. Good soil moisture is required for seed germination and until the young plants are well established.
  • Weeds and Fertilizers: Due to its dense canopy of leaves weeds are almost eradicated, thereby eradicating the need for pesticides or agricultural chemicals.
  • Growth: Hemp grows to between 1.8 and 4.5 metres tall in four to five months.  It is a hardy, tolerant, annual plant, and consistently produces high yields.