Industrial Hemp Building Material, Hemp-crete, an Effective Insulator

Industrial Hemp Building Material, Hemp-crete, an Effective Insulator

    The application of Industrial Hemp in construction materials and processes predates many engineering and architectural materials and processes utilized today. In fact, medieval timber frame buildings in France utilized the first versions of a material now known as “Hemp-crete”. This Hemp-crete created a layer of extremely effective thermal insulation. However, these materials and processes remain far from out-dated or ineffective. Industrial Hemp based manufacturing materials provide an alternative to environmentally harmful materials currently being utilized. This crop exhibits the versaitility necessary to create not only Hemp-crete for insulation, but also Hemp Fiber “wood”, and Oil Based Wood Stains/Finishes. 

Thermally Effective Hemp-crete Makes a Return

The popularity of Hemp-based building materials exhibited over thousands of years provides insight into construction processes of the past. Workers on a 6th century bridge abutment in France recently found it to contain hemp-filled mortar. More recently, French restorationists developed a hemp-lime mixture to replace wattle and daub when restoring medieval timber-framed buildings. The mixture created an excellent replacement for Portland cement, which caused the timber to accumulate moisture.

Manufacturers create Hempcrete from hemp hurds mixed with a lime-based binder and water. Hemp hurds have an unusually high silica content for organic material, allowing it to bind to the lime with the same kind of calcium silicate hydrate bonds found in hydrated Portland cement. One differentiating factor of Hemp-crete from actual concrete concerns the density. The binding portion of Hemp-crete creates a bond between touching Hemp fibers, rather than filling all of the voids between these fibers. Consequently, Hemp-crete exhibits about fifteen percent of the density of concrete. In fact, cured Hemp-crete blocks float in water. Because of this density, Hemp-crete must be used with a frame that supports vertical load, like wooden stud framing.

Additionally, a significant portion of trapped air in Hemp-crete creates an effective insulation. This material remains relatively breathable, but a good insulator for both heat and noise. The material exhibits resistance to mold and fire. “We heat [our material] up to over 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and it barely has an impact,” says builder Mark Faber, of Canadian hempcrete company, Just BioFiber. “Very unlikely for this house to catch fire.” 

Additional Building Materials Produced from Industrial Hemp

    Hemp-crete is only one of the numerous construction materials created from Industrial Hemp. Hemp Wood has made an intriguing impact on the lumber scene. This material is versatile and applicable to projects that would regularly require timber or oak based wood materials. Hemp wood exhibits a stability similar to Brazilian Cherry making it ideal for a variety of cuts, sands and stains. The long fibers of hemp mean woods made of hemp for construction will be stronger and lighter than timber-based products. Not only does it hold nails better, particle board made of hemp can be twice as strong as wood. Moreover, just 1 acre of hemp produces cellulose fiber pulp equal to 4 acres of trees, so hemp could easily and efficiently replace most items made of wood.

    Additionally, the popularity of Hemp-based stains experienced an increase in recent years. These stains generally contain a Hemp Seed Oil base. Dramatic new data showing that properties found in hemp seed oil offers exceptional performance improvements when incorporated into wood finishes, providing long lasting preservation for indoor and outdoor woods.

Thinking Ahead with Industrial Hemp Construction Materials

    The global education of benefit of Industrial Hemp continues to increase as new materials are produced in an effort to provide alternatives to environmentally irresponsible materials once used. Hemp based Woods and Wood Stains introduce new possibilities for individuals aiming to build responsibly.