Hemp fabric is not vulnerable to shrinkage but highly resistant to pilling. Hemp fabric is very soft, but it is also highly durable; while a typical cotton T-shirt lasts 10 years at the most, a hemp T-shirt may last double or triple that time. Some estimates suggest that hemp fabric is three times stronger than cotton fabric. In addition, hemp is a lightweight fabric, which means that it is highly breathable, and it also effectively facilitates the passage of moisture from the skin to the atmosphere, so it is ideal for hot climates. It is easy to dye this type of fabric, and it is highly resistant to mold, mildew, and potentially harmful microbes.
The Hemp fiber or industrial hemp is obtained from the outer layer or the bast of the Cannabis sativa plant, more popularly known as that meant for producing marijuana or hashish. The narcotic content is because of tetra-hydro-cannabinol content (THC) that is much as 20 % and causes the high when smoked. Industrial h emp contains 1 per cent THC only.
This fiber has some very incredible properties. It conducts heat, dyes well, resists mildew, blocks ultraviolet light and has natural anti-bacterial properties. It is used in many industries including paper, biodegradable plastic, construction, health food, chemical clean-ups and fuel. Automobile companies like BMW use hemp fiber to reinforce their door panels for better safety standards.
Cannabis sativa has been bred for two distinct purposes. On the one hand, many generations of cultivators of this plant have selectively bred it to be high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other psychoactive chemical constituents called cannabinoids. On the other hand, other cultivators have consistently bred Cannabis sativa to produce stronger and better fibers and have purposefully reduced the levels of psychoactive cannabinoids produced by their crops. However, female Cannabis sativa plants that have been bred for textile purposes are very low in THC, and they do not generally have pronounced, sticky buds.
The Making of Hemp Fiber-The stages
- Retting (To moisten or soak in order to soften and separate the fibers by partial rotting)
- Scutching (a step in the processing or dressing that separates the impurities from the raw material of a fiber in preparation for spinning)
- Hackling (Passing a comb through fibers to clean and straighten the fibers)
- Roving (Natural fiber yarns that have been drawn out and slightly twisted in preparation for spinning)
The stalks of the hemp plant consist of two layers: The outer layer is formed from rope-like bast fibers, and the inner layer consists of woody pith. Only the outer layer of the Cannabis sativa stalk is used for textile purposes; the inner, woody layer is commonly used for fuel, building materials, and animal bedding. Once the outer layer of bast fibers is stripped from the hemp plant, it can be processed and made into rope or yarn. Hemp rope is so strong that it was once the premier choice for rigging and sails on maritime vessels, and it remains renowned as an excellent material for clothing that surpasses cotton and synthetic textiles by most metrics.
However, since much legislation around the world doesn’t make a distinction between THC-rich marijuana and hemp, which has practically no THC, the global economy doesn’t take advantage of the benefits of hemp to the degree that it could. Instead, people who don’t understand what hemp is stigmatize it as a drug. However, more and more countries are embracing the mainstream cultivation of industrial hemp, which indicates that the modern renaissance of hemp textile is nearing its zenith. Once it is processed into textile, hemp it has a similar texture to cotton, but it also feels somewhat like canvas.
Hemp fabric softens with each washing, and its fibers don’t degrade even after dozens of washings. Since it’s also relatively easy to produce organic hemp fabric sustainably, this textile is practically ideal for clothing. While some hemp textile purists may choose to use textile products that are made with 100 percent hemp, it is also common to mix this type of fabric with other textiles. For instance, blends of cotton and hemp are popular, and it’s also common to find this textile blended with silk. Blending hemp with other fabrics can make this textile softer while remaining durable.
Hemp uses about 5% the amount of water it takes to grow cotton and can often be rain-fed. Hemp can grow in almost all soil conditions, and unlike cotton (which depletes the soil of nutrients) hemp’s deep-reaching roots preserve the topsoil and subsoil. Hemp grows densely as well, leaving no room for weeds and competing plants and is less vulnerable to insects, which means little to no use of pesticides. Lastly, hemp grows extremely fast, only needing 120-days to be ready for harvest.
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