Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hemp Building Materials

Hemp based building materials are often stronger than petroleum based products. Building materials made with hemp core fiber include plastics, fiberboard, wallboard, roofing tiles, insulation, paneling and even bricks.

The bast (or outer) hemp fibers then can be mixed with mud or adobe to construct strong durable walls for buildings. One of the advantages of using hemp in wall construction is the anti-mildew and antimicrobial properties that help reduce mold and dampness.

Hemp can also be used in building foundations by combining the inner short hemp fibers, lime, sand, plaster and stone cement along with enough water to dampen the materials. It sets in a day and dries in a week. This hemp plaster/concrete (or “hempcrete” as we like to call it) is said to be half as light, seven times stronger, and three times more pliable than other concrete foundations. 

This means that foundations are less likely to crack from the earth shifting beneath or because of dryness. Also the hemp based foundation weighs half as much. Using hemp fiber to reinforce concrete also reduces the amount of concrete needed.

Today, we see homes being made nearly 100% out of hemp materials. Pipes are made of hemp based plastic, walls can be made of hemp wallboard, insulation can be made from hemp fiber, and much more. In addition, we now have hemp plaster, paint made with hemp oil, hemp carpet, hemp bricks, and even hemp roofing material.

At this time, building homes out of hemp still costs more than traditional building materials, since hemp is still not legal to be grown in America. However in the end, the outcome will be well worth the effort. Hemp building materials are better for you because they filter out mold and mildew, they withstand the test of time the same, if not better than, their non-renewable counterparts, and are much more environmentally friendly.

Hemp Plastics

Plastics made from hemp and other organics are non-toxic and biodegradable. Henry Ford used hemp-and-sisal cellulose plastic to build car doors and fenders in 1941. On video, Henry Ford demonstrated that his hemp cars were more resistant to blows from a sledgehammer than steel- bodied cars were.

The basic building block of plastic is cellulose derived from toxic petroleum based compositions. But plastics can be made from plant cellulose. Since hemp is the greatest cellulose producer on earth (hemp hurds can be 85% cellulose), it only makes sense to make non-toxic, biodegradable plastic from hemp and other organics, instead of letting our dumps fill up with petroleum based garbage. Hemp hurds can also be processed into cellophane packing material, common until the 1930’s, or they may be manufactured into a low-cost, replacement for Styrofoam.

Recently Hemp Plastics (in Australia) has used advanced research and technology to develop a new plastic material made from hemp. Hemp plastics can be five times stiffer and two and a half times stronger than polypropylene. It will not cause wear and tear to screws and the molds like glass fibers do and, unlike glass fibers, it does not pose any safety and health risks. All these features make it suitable for the production of durable products.

Hemp is already being used in compressed door panels and dashboards. Car makers such as Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, Honda, and Mercedes are currently using hemp composite door panels, trunks, head liners, etc. Zelfo Technology (Austrian) created a hemp-plastic resin called Hempstone, for use in musical instruments, speakers, and furniture.

Hemp composites are less expensive than dangerous fiberglass counterparts. Hemp fiberglass, used to replace actual carbon and glass fibers, would be much more cost effective to use and weigh significantly less.

The reason why virtually all European car makers are switching to hemp based door panels, columns, seat backs, boot linings, floor consoles, instrument panels, and other external components is because the hemp based products are lighter, safer in accidents, recyclable, and more durable.

The possibilities are endless with hemp plastics, resins, and bio-composites. Virtually anything can be made from bio-composite plastics. Hemp plastics are already on the rise; it is only a matter of time before we will see the need to grow hemp out-weigh the reasons why it is still illegal in America.