Hemp Science

“Is hemp organic?” – “Is water wet?”

There are no incentives or economic reasons to use insecticides, fungicides or herbicides to grow Industrial Hemp, official designation: “True Hemp”. The plant repels most insects, fungi and microbes. The 2-4 meter high stalks grow so densely that weeds cannot thrive. Therefore, if it is real hemp, it is organic per. definition – or rather by nature! Hemp is also a good alternating crop that helps regenerate the soil, which can be depleted after growing other crops such as corn, cotton and grain.

By the same reason, not all (organic) hemp producers are organically certified, e.g. GOTS. Some of our producers are, others are not. Most of them would probably ask if they should also have certified that their water was wet? – We trust all our producers, but first and foremost we trust in the natural properties of hemp –  a better guarantee than all manner of certificates.

Sustainable? Absolutely!

It only requires about 1/3 land and 0-5% water to grow industrial hemp, compared to cotton. Cotton requires an average of 10,000 liters of water per. kg of fiber (grown on 3.4 m2). The 5000 liters are handled by “Green” water, ie. precipitation Hemp requires only 2000 liters per kg, ie. far below average rainfall. Sources: UNESCO LINK and others. Figures are global averages.

Water-footprint, entire production chain

Hemp requires quite a lot of water for retting. Cotton does not. So to be fair on the water comparison, we need to look at the entire production chain. However, it does not really change the picture…

* Retting: Hemp stalks are soaked in water for 3-6 weeks to free the fibers. Research show that retting only costs 122 L/kg. All figures are global averages. Source Unesco-EHI.

Hemp – a fantastic CO2-absorber!

Both Hemp´s CO2 footprint and water footprint is much smaller than for other natural textile fibers.
Hemp absorbs 22-44 tons of CO2 per hectare per hectare. years (44 tons, at two harvests per season), far more than a mature forest and 4 times more than cotton. Documentation.

Cotton – also organic cotton – requires a lot of water

Cotton has a natural need for approx. 10,000 liters of water per. kg fiber. UNESCO figures, etc. shows that approx. half of this is covered by “Green Water” – ie precipitation. This means “Blue Water Consumption”  is 4-5000 liters per kg cotton fiber. Hemp’s total needs, on the other hand, are approx. 2000 liters pr. kg fiber, ie well below the “average” Green Water level.

In addition, just over 90% of the world’s cotton production is not organic. This means that pesticides are washed out into the groundwater, which further reduces the amount of clean, usable water. It goes without saying that, at 25 billion kg of cotton produced annually, much water and chemicals can be saved by increasing the share of hemp textile production.

If hemp is so sustainable, why is it expensive, then?

It can seem like a contradiction to call expensive products sustainable. Because expensive products usually require more resources = cost of production. The important thing here is that the production of hemp textile requires much less of the scarce resources: land and water, and more of the “abundant” resources: labor.

Large amounts of labour goes into the production of hemp. First, the 2-4 meter high stalks are cumbersome to harvest, and there is no ideal harvesting equipment. Then the stalks should be gathered in bundles and dried for a week. Next, the stalks must be “retted”. The stalks are placed in water for 3-6 weeks to free the fibers from the bark. Furthermore, the processing of the fibers and weaving can only be done with semi-optimal machinery.

Hemp is antibacterial – Really ?

Yes, Hemp fabric is antibacterial and hypoallergenic by nature.Cotton is not. Experience and scientific evidence have shown this. You may remember a hemp glove in the bathroom that never gets mouldy. But, there are also quite clear scientific research that show impressive antibacterial properties:

One reason is CBD 1), which scientists and dermatologists believe can help to “close” the skin, so that antioxidants are rejected so that the skin ages less and various irritations are reduced. Another very important reason is THC (the substance you can get high from if you smoke Marijuana-Hemp) in the fibers simply repels most animals, fungi and bacteria – and possibly also dust mites. Dust mites are proven to be associated with certain allergies, including asthma. Studies show that bacteria such as Staphylococci, Coli and Candida can disappear within a few hours (see above and Ref. 2). This does not apply to cotton, which can house bacteria and vermin for weeks (Ref. 2). 

What does all this mean for you as a consumer?

Initially, you can shop hemp textile with an unheard of pure conscience In addition, hemp’s fantastic product properties:

Hemp fabric is three times stronger than cotton and linen. The fibers run the entire length of the stem and are cut down to 8 cm for spinning. (Egyptian cotton has a maximum of 4 cm long fibers). Hemp fabric absorbs moisture 30% better than cotton. The “hollow” fibers also provide good insulation and provide good UV-protection.

As hemp is antibacterial, you do not need to wash it as often and you can wash at lower temperatures (30-40 ° C). Moreover, towels and dishcloths etc. do not get sour or mouldy.

The antibacterial properties mean, if you sleep in hemp bedding, dry yourself with hemp towels, etc., there is a good chance you will experience fewer rashes, allergies. You or your children may even be saved from asthma. 

.. and what does it mean for us all as responsible consumers?

Well, we need to get rid of all conventional cotton production. Besides using a lot of water, it uses a lot of chemicals. So, we need to stop buying conventional cotton products. However before you automatically switch to organic cotton, which still uses a lot of water and land, consider hemp.

– Or at least, consider a 50-50 blend of hemp and organic cotton. If everybody did that, that would take us somewhere!

See also our article on sustainability.

References: We can provide if needed.

Hemp – Further research:

We support the Danish project Hemp4Tex (LINK), which among other things aims to develop better harvesting machines as well as faster and cheaper reddening via environmentally friendly enzyme treatment.

We plan to set up a project where the main purpose is to investigate whether the antimicrobial qualities of hemp provide measurable improvements with regard to sleep, allergies and well-being over time. We hope to be able to deliver the first results in 1-2 years time.

Meanwhile, our own experiences after sleeping in hemp bedding during the year are quite promising. That the fabric is really antibacterial, however, is quite clear: neither own nor customers’ towels become sour or mouldy, no matter what they are exposed to.

We declare our product are produced of 100% hemp textile, unless otherwise stated. Other materials used can be organic cotton, used as backing for our terry towels or recycled polyester-fiber, used as fast-drying fillings in e.g. sleep bags and playing mats. Certificates of authenticity and production methods from our suppliers can be produced to relevant authorities. Dyes used, if any, are GOTS-certified.

The many virtues of hemp and hemp textile are documented and agreed upon by most industry and scientific authorities – as well as by many consumers by experience. However, we cannot in any way or form guarantee that babies, infants or adults will experience improved health, better sleep or fewer allergies as a result of using our products. Other factors can greatly influence both physical condition and quality of sleep. For a better life and better sleep you should always make sure you and your family exercise sufficiently and adhere to a healthy diet. You should always follow the advice of your physician/MD and other recognized authorities in these matters.