Hemp is one of the earliest domesticated plants known. It dates back thousands of years and has numerous uses including fuel, construction, textiles, medicine, and paper. Its ability to mature in 103 – 120 days and thrive in many different climates conditions raises many questions one of which is; why are we not tapping on its potential and using it for nearly everything that we do? A question to be answered in one of our subsequent articles. For today, we would like to focus on some of the most interesting facts about hemp in no particular order.
- Until the introduction of cotton in the 1820s, about 80% of all linen, clothes, textile, fabrics, and drapes were made of hemp. Also, all schoolbooks were manufactured using either hemp or flax until the 1880s.
- From 1631 to the early 1800s, it was legal to pay taxes with hemp in America. In fact, hemp was such a valued commodity that refusing to dedicate a portion of your land for growing hemp was considered against the law. Jail time was guaranteed for residents of Virginia who refused to grow hemp from 1763 to 1769.
- Going back thousands of years, around 90% of all ship’s ropes and sails were made using hemp. Consequently, when Christopher Columbus set out to explore the world, he chose ropes and sails made of hemp due to their ability to withstand continuous exposure to saltwater. So, we can loosely say that without hemp, he would not have discovered America.
- Hemp has been part and parcel of the American culture ever since the founding days of the country. In fact, Betsy Ross used the hemp material in making of the first ever American flag. Most recently in 2013, the Growing Warrior’s Project who employ veterans to make flags out of hemp and are behind the legalization of the crop managed to get one of their hemp flags flying over the Capitol building as part of a veterans day celebration. Now that’s something that would make Betsy very proud.
- The first Model-T made by Henry Ford was constructed from hemp and ran on hemp gasoline. Its hemp plastic panels had ten times the strength impact of a car made of steel. Also, every Mercedes C-class has hemp of about 20kgs. Other car brands like Audi and BMW are known for using hemp to make some of their machinery.
- The plant is also being used in bioremediation properties. Bioremediation is the process of removing toxins from soil, water, and air. It can be used to rehabilitate soil after nuclear disasters as it can pull radioactive isotopes from the soil. For example, after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, hemp was planted to clear the site of the harmful products like radioisotopes.
- When you think of some of the most renowned painters of all time, people like Van Gogh, Gainsborough, and Rembrandt. But what, what do these three individuals have in common? They all painted on hemp! This is because one of the main qualities of hemp is that it remains undamaged by light. Any oil painting done on hemp canvas can stay for hundreds of years in good condition.