Hemp Q & A
Write to us via our contact-form, if you have a question not covered here.
– How do we know that hemp fabric is antibacterial – and odourless?
First, scientific tests show that hemp textile can reduce the amount of various bacteria and fungi in a matter of hours.
Second, our hands-on experience over several years shows that our hemp towels and dishcloths are virtually impossible to get to smell ugly. This is the strongest evidence. – You may also remember that for centuries, hemp has been used for ropes and sails on ships and Grandmother’s hemp glove, which has always hung in the shower without rotting.
Conversely, one of the most common consumer questions is “Why do my towels smell?” They do, because they are not made of hemp…
– Why is hemp “always” organic?
The hemp plant repels most vermin and fungi. (For the same reason, hemp textile is antibacterial). So, there are no incentives to use insecticides or herbicides to increase the yield. In addition, hemp, as opposed to e.g. flax is cut, not torn up. This leaves the roots and provides a nutrient-rich soil, so the need for fertiliser is minimal or zero. This “solid soil” holds water well, so hemp needs zero to very little irrigation. (Cotton needs 5000 L/Kg fibre). Therefore, Hemp is “always” organic.
Other natural fibers, eg cotton, are more easily infected and require extra land, water, crop rotation, etc. to be grown organically. These difficulties means there are incentives to use chemistry to increase yield. Today, still, the amount of organic cotton relative to conventional is estimated at about 10%. Therefore, organic certifications are especially important for cotton, if you want to be reasonably sure that your textiles are, in fact, organic.
– Why is hemp super-sustainable?
Organic cultivation is one element in the concept of “Sustainability”. Buying Organic is not enough, if you you want to act sustainably. Resource consumption and CO2-balance must be included in the calculation.
The raw, official figures say that Hemp only requires approx. 1 m2 of land per kg of fibre, cotton approx. 3. Hemp requires an average of 0 L irrigation, cotton 5000 L. A hemp field absorbs approx. 22 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere per. ha, cotton approx. 5 tons.
Only the fast-growing bamboo surpasses hemp in CO2 reduction (65 tons / ha). On the other hand, bamboo cannot be characterized as natural textile. An often environmentally damaging chemical process transforms the fibers into a cellulosic pulp that is forced out through small holes to form artificial threads. This process leads to “Viscose”, also called Rayon. Therefore, in the United States, bamboo textiles may only be called “Rayon of Bamboo”.
Finally, hemp lasts approx. 3 x longer than cotton and 4-5 times longer than bamboo, which further increases sustainability.
Cotton requires 3x as much land and hemp lasts 3x as long. In a simplified calculation, one can say that hemp is 9x as sustainable as organic cotton. Organic cotton is of course far better and more sustainable than conventional cotton, which uses 25-50% of the world’s production of pesticides.
See comparative figures, sustainability of hemp vs. other textiles here.
– How long does hemp textile last?
Hemp textile lasts approx. 3x longer than cotton and 4-5x longer than bamboo. Hemp can also be washed at lower temperatures (30 ° C), as it usually does not need to be disinfected because it is antibacterial. By the way, through it’s long life, hemp textile only gets more beautiful and softer.
– How should hemp be washed?
Wash: max 30-40 ° C – Can withstand up to 80 ° C to remove grease stains etc.
For stains, use a stain remover.
Always wash with the same colours
Wash separately at first. In particular, hemp towels fluff until they have settled (3-4 washes)
Spin at low speed.
Dry on line, after which ironing is recommended.
Or tumble-dry (towels separately), low heat, only till semi-dry – hemp does not like to be completely dried out.
– If hemp is so fantastic, why have we not heard more about it?
That’s right, hemp is not very common today. It is estimated that hemp textile production currently is less than 1% of world total natural textile production, the majority of which is cotton. The explanation is primarily that hemp cultivation was banned in the United States in the 1930s, officially because one could not distinguish between “recreational hemp” (with a minimum of 3% of the active substance, THC) and industrial hemp (max. 0.3% THC).
Before the ban, hemp was considered a very important crop, supported by governments, including the US government. The U.S. Constitution, or a draft by Benjamin Franklin, is reportedly written on hemp paper, and everyone was encouraged to grow hemp in their backyards. The first Levi Strauss jeans (Levi’s) were made from used hemp sails and became known for their superior durability…
Following the American ban in the last century, came Western European restrictions. However, the old East Bloc countries were more or less unaffected. Today, we get most of our textiles from Transylvania, Romania.
Today one can verify hemp by type. Industrial hemp is expected to be approved in most of the world, shortly. Hemp, both for textiles, dietary supplements and other purposes is p.t. approved in nearly 50% of U.S. states. – There is a great come-back ahead for hemp textile!
– What are the prices of hemp, relative to other textiles?
Hemp textiles are quite costly but should also be considered as a pure luxury. The wholesale price of our “raw material”, hemp fabric, is typically 4-5 times higher than organic-cotton fabric. So, our prices on finished products are higher than most cotton products. Yet, our prices are roughly the same as the prices of e.g. Egyptian-cotton products and other luxury items.
However, comparing hemp with expensive cotton products is like comparing green, juicy apples to something completely different. Hemp textiles last 3 times longer and always smell good, the other thing does not…
– If hemp textile is so costly, how can it be sustainable and save resources?
Good question. Hemp saves a lot of scarce resources in the form of land and water. It also absorbs a lot of CO2. Hemp is therefore, in the raw numbers, the most sustainable natural textile available. However, hemp so far requires quite a bit of the “abundant resources”: labor.
The 2-4 meter high hemp stalks are difficult to harvest, as you do not have ideal harvesting machines. In addition, a lot of labor is required to “retting” the stems. These must be soaked in water for 3-6 weeks for the textile fibers to be separated from the bark. This retting-process must, of course, be monitored and corrected at regular intervals.
All this is laborious and expensive. Several projects are in progress in order to make the harvest more efficient with new machines and to reduce the retting time by using sustainable enzyme- or steam-technologies. One project, we support, is Hemp4Tex carried out by the Danish Technical University and others.