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Hemp vs Cotton – The Pros and Cons

Historically, hemp has proven to be a versatile and durable substance and therein lies the contradiction. For nearly a century now, Hemp has been overlooked and under-appreciated as a viable alternative to cotton, possibly as a result of its connotative association with marijuana. To clarify, hemp has no psychoactive properties.

PROS: Hemp fibre is surprisingly useful as a cotton, paper, cellulosic or polymer substitute when it is treated correctly. As a crop, it is low-maintenance and resilient, and requires none of the weeding and heavy use of pesticides usually required in farming.  Hemp is particularly effective as a source for textiles. The fibres drawn from the hemp plant are the strongest and longest in nature. Fabrics, twines, yarns and cords made from hemp are durable and versatile. It can be combed into any gauge or quality of fibre. As a substitute for such diverse substances as cotton, trees, or petroleum, hemp proves to be more environmentally sound than all of its alternatives (requiring about 10% of the water needed to produce cotton) and its versatility and resilience make it economically sound as well.

CONS: Hemp fibre is characterised by undesirable susceptibility to moisture and rot due to moulds and mildews and the like. It is also characterized by a strong, naturally-occurring odour which makes it unacceptable as a substitute for other odourless fibres. Moreover, hemp fibre in its natural spun state is susceptible to fraying and has a rough hand and feel. A need therefore remains for a hemp product which is suitably strong, soft, flexible, moisture-resistant and rot-resistant and generally suitable for substitution in applications previously focused on the cotton, paper and petroleum-fibre industries.

Hempflax are the leaders in this field in Europe and are based in Holland.

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