The cannabis plant has been utilized in a myriad of ways throughout the past several centuries. From being consumed for medicinal and spiritual purposes to being applied to the skin, cannabis has been essential to just about every part of the body. Meanwhile, its sister plant hemp has been used for just about everything else.
Hemp use dates well into the B.C. years, where the plant was used to make clothing material. From China to Turkey to India to America, several communities have utilized hemp to their advantage over the years.
Today, hemp is fully legal in the U.S. and businesses are beginning to turn to the plant more and more for innovative production techniques, although restrictions are still incredibly tight. Here are 20 of the most interesting and unexpected ways hemp has been used throughout history:
Using hemp to make paper dates back to China’s Han Dynasty in 200 B.C. It was used throughout the years in important historical documents and literature–Mark Twain’s novels were printed on hemp paper. Russia’s banking industry also utilized hemp paper in the 1800s. It remained popular until around the 1930s, when paper was starting to be made from trees. However, businesses are slowly beginning to turn to hemp paper again.
From almond to cashew to macadamia to oat, there seems to be no shortage of things to make milk out of–but have you ever considered hemp? Hemp milk is high in protein, lactose-, soy-, and gluten-free, and super easy to make: all you have to do is combine hemp seeds, water, and a little vanilla and maple syrup for some sweetness.
If you work in construction and you’re looking for an alternative to concrete, hemp may be your new best friend for quick fixes. While concrete is heavy and difficult to lug around, hempcrete is lightweight. The only drawback is it can’t be used for structural purposes–it’s just used as an insulating infill.
The fashion industry also has plenty of room for innovative hemp use, although this isn’t as new as it may sound. Considered an environmental “super fiber,” people have used hemp to make clothing for several centuries. Using the fibers of the plant, more and more eco-friendly designers are turning to this method of production.
Another great use for the hemp plant is to make it into plastic material. We use plastic every day, and yet most of it is still made from polluting, non-biodegradable chemicals. More and more hemp plastic businesses have been popping up like SANA Packaging or Exhemplary Life.
This versatile plant can also be used to make batteries from hemp fibers. Scientists use the plant to make supercapacitors, a type of battery that doles out electricity in smaller increments.
While many cars are made with fiberglass materials, cars made from woven hemp are lighter and yet more dent-resistant. Henry Ford’s “cannabis car” was one of the first cars to be made using hemp materials in the U.S.
- Skin Products
If you have particularly dry skin, you may already be familiar with using oils on your face to help gain moisture. More and more skincare experts have been turning to hemp oil lately for their skincare needs. While oils are typically preferred for drier skin types, hemp oil actually works for most people. It helps to overall balance and regulate your skin’s hydration, no matter if your skin is dry, oily, or combination.
- Fish Oil
Fish oil has been used as a vitamin for several years, specifically geared towards women. Lush with the omega-3 fats that are vital for our bodies and brains, fish oil helps to prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, and ease menstrual and/or menopausal aches and pains. Coincidentally, hemp oil is also rich in the body’s necessary omega-3 fats, and many people take hemp oil as a replacement for fish.
- Solar Panels
While solar panels are already utilized to save energy and instead turn to the world’s natural resources, making panels out of hemp is an even more efficient way to work. Applied like paint, hemp solar panels produce energy when they are struck by heat.
Another innovative use for hemp oil is to leave your mark. This one’s for the writers and tattoo artists alike: hemp oil can be used as a base for non-toxic ink. This type of ink dries faster and requires minimal processing. To be used either on the body, or your latest ream of homemade hemp paper.
While hemp has been used to make clothing and other fabric materials throughout the centuries, it should come as no surprise that it’s also been used as a material to make carpets and rugs. Using the woody fibers of the hemp plant, textile workers create naturally durable, hard-to-wear-out pieces.
- Nail Polish
A hemp innovation within the beauty industry is being applied to nail polish. Nails INC has recently dropped a plant-fueled collection, offering CBD nail polish and hemp oil-infused nail polish.
Another great use for hemp is on your baby’s butt, as more and more companies are turning to the plant to produce diapers. Hemp is inherently antifungal, antimicrobial, non-allergenic, recyclable, and breathable. It’s the perfect material to keep your little ones clean and comfortable all day.
Hemp oil can be added as a valuable ingredient to your shampoo and/or conditioner. It provides tons of essential nutrients to promote a healthy head of hair, and its fatty acids appear to aid in increased hair growth.
Biodegradable and chemical-free, hemp paint is incredibly easy to use. Made from the oil from hemp seeds, is a great finish or wood stain.
- Animal Food
Perhaps one of the most obvious ways to utilize hemp is to simply consume it. We’ve been known to add hemp seeds and oils to smoothies or yogurt bowls, but did you know hemp can work as a valuable source of food for animals? Hemp can be used to feed all animals, providing them with protein, fats, and antibiotic properties that help protect from illness.
Hemp seeds or oil can be consumed on their own for nutrition, but the plant can also be used to make flour. Hemp flour has a nutty, earthy taste and can replace all-purpose flour in any recipe. It makes for especially great bread, pizza crust, and pancakes.
The use for hemp in fashion doesn’t stop at clothing–the plant can also be used to make shoes. Typically a blend of hemp fiber and cotton, hemp shoes are environmentally friendly, soft, and comfortable.
Last but absolutely not least, hemp can be used to produce everyone’s favorite sweet snack: chocolate! Hemp chocolate is not only delicious but great for soothing anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, and many aches and pains–all without the high that comes along with most cannabis-infused chocolates.