This underrated crop has the potential to transform the way we live.
Hemp’s popularity has exploded in recent years, especially for hemp-derived CBD products. But did you know there are tons of incredible uses for hemp? From biofuel to bricks, let’s take a look at some of the more unusual uses for hemp.
5. Hemp Fuel
One of the most fascinating uses for hemp is biofuel, sometimes called “Hempoline.” Biofuel is made from living matter, like corn but also hemp, and can be used to power machinery like cars. There are actually two types of possible hemp fuel: hemp diesel and “hempoline.”
Hemp diesel is made from hemp seed oil. After the oil is extracted from the seeds, it can be processed much the same way as petroleum. Even Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine, designed it to be powered by vegetable oils—which could very well include hemp. In fact, Diesel even presented his invention, running completely on peanut oil, at the 1900 World’s Fair.
“Hempoline,” on the other hand, is made using the plant’s biomass. The uses for hemp are so extensive because the plant, especially the stalk, is a great source of cellulose. This cellulose can be extracted and converted into fuel, hence “hempoline.”
Hemp fuel could not only decrease our need for fossil fuels, but it’s also better for the environment. For instance, when hemp is grown, it takes CO2 from the air. Then, when it’s burned, like for use in a car, it releases an equal amount of CO2 back into the environment. This balanced system is superior to burning petroleum-based fuel, which only releases CO2 into the air. Because of the stabilizing effect hemp has on CO2 levels, it could potentially help reverse the greenhouse effect.
4. Hemp Cardboard and Plastic
We live in such a disposable culture that many of us don’t give the massive amounts of cardboard and plastic we use much thought. But both cardboard and plastic are detrimental to our environment. However, the good news is that’s another one of the powerful uses for hemp.
Hemp fiber is not only good for making paper, fabric, and rope, it can also be used to make cardboard. Using hemp to make cardboard has some serious advantages. For instance, most cardboard is made from wood from trees, but hemp grows much quicker than trees. Thus, using hemp to make cardboard could help cut down on deforestation. Another benefit of using hemp to make cardboard is that hemp is naturally acid-free. Therefore, the cardboard won’t become yellow or brittle. Plus, you can recycle hemp up to seven times; compared to the measly three times wood pulp can be recycled. It seems like a no-brainer.
We all know plastic is bad for the environment, from the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” to the 93 percent of Americans who have BPA in their urine, according to the CDC. But that’s another way the many uses for hemp can help. Hemp plastic is non-toxic and biodegradable, making it safer for the environment. Check out our full coverage of hemp plastic here.
3. Hemp Beauty Products
There are thousands of different beauty products that use hemp. From lotions to mascaras to anti-wrinkle cream, your choices are endless. When it comes to hemp-based beauty products, you have two different routes to explore: products derived from hemp seed oil or those derived from the hemp stalk.
While products derived from the stalk will likely contain CBD, hemp seed oil products also have tons of benefits. That’s because while hemp seed oil doesn’t contain any cannabinoids, it does have tons of vitamins and minerals that are great for the skin. For instance, check out our list of the best hemp soaps, great for sensitive skin or for those with skin conditions, like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Clearly, CBD is also beneficial to have in beauty products and is found in hemp stalk-derived products. CBD is becoming popular for skin care treatment because of its anti-inflammatory effects, making it one of my personal favorite uses for hemp.
2. Hemp Milk
One of the most delicious and nutritious uses for hemp is hemp milk. Made from hemp seeds, sometimes known as hemp hearts, it’s packed full of highly-digestible plant proteins, amino acids and essential fatty acids as well as tons of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, many are taking advantage of this super food by either buying hemp milk or making their own by blending hemp seeds with water. Hemp milk is an amazing dairy-alternative that tastes slightly nutty like almond milk and even has half your daily allotted amount of calcium. Read our full hemp milk coverage here and I swear you’ll be putting it in your morning coffee in no time.
Did you know you can build a house out of hemp? That brings us to one of the most amazing uses for hemp: hempcretes. Essentially hemp bricks, these building materials are made by combining the inner core of the hemp plant with a lime binder and water. Hempcretes have tons of benefits that make many wonder why we don’t all live in hemp homes. For instance, hempcretes are basically fireproof and resistant to pests like mice and cockroaches. Not to mention, they’re “earthquake resistant” because their low-density makes them less likely to crack if moved.
Plus, hempcretes have incredible insulation. These hemp bricks allow walls to breathe, meaning homes stay cooler in the summer and retain more heat during the winter. Therefore, hempcretes can even help reduce a home’s energy costs.
So why aren’t all of our buildings made of hemp? It comes down to two major things: hempcretes are not cheap and so, for now, are only available to the most wealthy, environmentally conscious among us. Plus, hemp farms are still very limited in the U.S. While the 2014 Farm Bill opened the door to hemp farmers across the U.S., they still need to be approved by state-sponsored programs, which are limited and not available in every state.
However, it does look like hemp is the way of the future. Before prohibition, hemp was an extremely popular and versatile crop in the U.S. and, hopefully, if more people can see all the incredible potential uses for hemp, we’ll come back around full circle.