What is Hemp Fabric? Traditionally, Hemp fabric was used for industrial purposes such as the production of sails and ropes. It is best known for being one of the most durable and versatile types of fabric available. Hemp fabric is also widely used in the household as it is highly absorbent and pest resistant. In addition, hemp fabric is sustainable and is relatively environmentally friendly. So if you’re looking for a versatile and sustainable fabric that can be used in various situations, then you may want to know what hemp fabric is and how you can make the most of it. To elaborate, here is everything to know about what is hemp fabric:
What is Hemp Fabric?
Hemp fabric is made out of hemp fibers, which belong to the Cannabis Sativa plant family. The hemp fibers are 8 times stronger than other natural fibers, so it is commonly used at home. Hemp is incredibly durable and tensile as well. However, it has been a challenge for farmers to mass-produce this crop due to its psychoactive qualities.
For thousands of years, the Cannabis Sativa has been cultivated for two main purposes. For some, it has been cultivated to have lower levels of psychoactive cannabinoids to produce strong fibers. In contrast, others are intentionally bred to have high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol together with other cannabinoids. Because of this, two types of Cannabis Sativa strains have made a name in the industry – hemp and TCH-rich marijuana.
A hemp plant’s stalk has two layers. The outer layer consists of fibers that look similar to ropes, commonly used for textiles. The inner layer is woody and is often used for animal beddings, fuel, and industrial purposes. Once hemp is processed for hemp fabric production, it obtains a cotton-like texture, making it soft and at the same time highly durable, not prone to shrinkage, and pilling resistant.
Furthermore, hemp fabric for apparel increases its lifespan as hemp fibers do not degrade after every wash, unlike other fabrics. For instance, a regular shirt would usually last up to 10 years maximum, but shirts made of hemp fabric could go up to 20 to 30 years with the same quality. Hemp fabric is also breathable, making it suitable for warm weather and climates.
What is hemp fabric and its benefits? Here is a quick list of all the benefits of using hemp fabric:
- Keeps away unwanted pests with its pest-resistant nature
- Long lasting, durable, and versatile
- A lot more durable as compared to other natural fibers
- Renewable, sustainable, and eco-friendly
- Mold and shrinkage-resistant
As for the disadvantages of hemp fabric, natural products tend to be on the pricier end and tend to wrinkle in some areas. However, if you think about it, this is a small price to pay with the benefits that it can give you. The only downside to this is that some people still invalidate its benefits because of hemp’s affiliation with marijuana. However, do remember that hemp is different from marijuana and is completely legal and viable.
What is Hemp Fabric – Types
What is hemp fabric and what are its types? Hemp fabric has only one major type. Usually, hemp fabric should be softer than a canvas, long-lasting, and stronger than cotton. However, hemp fabric’s feel, quality, sustainability, and texture may differ from one manufacturer to another despite the same production process. This is caused by hemp fabric being produced less sustainably due to the rising demand for this type of fabric.
What is Hemp Fabric – How it is Made
What is hemp fabric-making process? As compared to cotton production, hemp fabric production is a lot simpler and efficient. To produce hemp fabric, manufacturers only follow five consecutive steps:
The harvesting season for Cannabis Sativa crops happens around mid-August in North America and at this time, these crops are harvested using a special machine.
After the harvest, the crops are retted in the field for around four to six weeks. This is so pectin is naturally removed from the plants through element exposure.
Bast Fiber Carding
After retting, the stalks are then turned into hay-like bales and the outer and inner layers are separated using a hammermill or breakers. This is then followed by the carding of fibers into strands and the cleaning process.
Pulping, Steam Explosion or Matting
After cleansing and carding, these fibers can undergo any of the following processes – pulping, steam explosion, and matting. Pulping is used to turn these fibers into paper products, steam explosion creates weavable fiber from raw hemp, and matting produces fleeces and mats.
For hemp fabric, the raw fibers undergo steam explosion, and afterward, the hemp can now be spun and woven into hemp textile. The yarn produced from this is then made available for the public to use for many different purposes.
What is Hemp Fabric – Uses
What is hemp fabric uses? Hemp fabric is popularly used in the apparel industry because of its long list of qualities such as breathability, soft texture, and durability. In the contemporary era, this fabric is highly recognized as a novelty item for those interested in cannabis. However, as the years passed by, hemp fabric gained immense popularity not only because of its relation to marijuana but also because of its benefits.
Hemp fabric can be used to make all types of clothing imaginable-- jackets, shirts, clothing for children, jeans, skirts, and everything else. However, it is most widely used to create shirts because of its wear and tear resistance, allowing it to retain its quality even after decades.
Aside from clothing, hemp fabric is also widely used in the textile industry, and using hemp fabric for tablecloths, towels, and upholstery has become normalized. This is because hemp fabric is highly absorbent and durable, making it suitable for the job. Hemp fabric can also be used as bed sheets; however, it may not be as comfortable to sleep in due to its high thread counts. Regardless, this does not deny the fact that these are great to use with duvets and blankets.
Some people prefer hemp fabrics that are 100% hemp, but it is also common for hemp to be combined with other fabrics such as cotton and silk. Practicing blending hemp fabric with others allows manufacturers to produce a softer yet durable textile.
Here is a list of items commonly made with hemp fabric:
- Kitchen towels
- Bed sheets
- Baby bibs
What is Hemp Fabric – Production, Cost, and Environmental Impact
What is hemp fabric’s top producer? Approximately 70% of hemp production is done by China. However, its sustainability and non-toxicity are unclear due to its lax environmental regulations and labor laws. Moreover, hemp is commonly made into industrial products, paper, and fuel instead of fabric. Hence, the title of the largest hemp fabric producer may actually best fit France followed by Austria, Chile, and the United Kingdom.
The production of hemp fabric usually costs as much as cotton production. Logically, it should be priced lower as its production is far more efficient and simpler than cotton. However, many factors have caused the prices to rise. One reason is that cotton is produced at a larger scale than hemp fabric, making it cheaper if sold by the volume. Another thing is that hemp fabric is treated like a novelty item especially by marijuana enthusiasts, so there may be some retailers who charge insanely high.
Hemp fabric is relatively environmentally friendly and sustainable, and this is one of the top benefits of this type of fabric. For thousands of years of usage, hemp fabric has not caused any large ecological calamities. This is great news, especially with the current issue of global warming. However, there is a current threat of hemp fabric being produced in a way that’s faster but less sustainable due to the rising demand.
What is Hemp Fabric – In Conclusion
With that, you have gone over everything there is to know about what is hemp fabric, and overall, one can infer that it is one of the best fabrics to use due to its long list of good qualities. Unlike other fabrics, it is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Hemp can be used for a variety of purposes, most especially in the clothing industry. Furthermore, its benefits are not limited to the production of clothing, but also it can produce fuel, paper, and other industrial materials. For the longest time, hemp has been stigmatized due to its relationship with marijuana, and it is about time that the public becomes aware that there’s more to it than meets the eye.
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