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Hemp Uses: 7 Ways to Use This Versatile Plant

Hemp uses are vast with such a versatile plant having over 50,000 different modern applications and exploding into the market as more countries legalize the sale of hemp and cannabis...

Hemp uses are vast with such a versatile plant having over 50,000 different modern applications and exploding into the market as more countries legalize the sale of hemp and cannabis products.

In this article we’ll cover a brief introduction on what hemp is followed by the many hemp uses hemp can be found in such as apparel, housing, paint and cosmetics.

Hemp Uses from The Plant

hemp uses nz in new zealand

Hemp uses start with the cannabis sativa plant. Cannabis is a species of plant that traditionally grows in the northern hemisphere, but grows very well in New Zealand’s climate.

Cannabis is a species of plant that has had a bad wrap over the past hundred years since it’s ban in 1930. Cannabis was lumped in with marijuana as drug laws were passed prohibiting its use.

The trouble is, cannabis is a species of plant, and as such, isn’t “bad” on its own. You see, there are varieties of cannabis such as hemp and marijuana. Just like there are varieties of apples like macintosh and granny smith. Both are apples, they just taste and look different. The same can be said for hemp vs marijuana.

Hemp contains a fractionable allowable limit of THC (0.3%), whereas marijuana typically contains 10-20% THC (because the cannabis plant is bred that way). This is where much of the confusion around hemp and marijuana began, because the original 1930 laws threw all varieties of cannabis under the same illegal status.

Since the ban on growing hemp in NZ lifted in 2018, we’ve seen kiwi farmers begin to produce great yields from this nutritious easy to grow crop. Farmers in New Zealand are required to discard any parts of the hemp plant that are not from the seed, when it comes to human consumption.

Hemp Uses & Products

hemp uses industrial new zealand

Hemp has had many uses over millennia with some of the earliest records dating hemp uses back as far as 10,000 years ago. The ancient egyptians used hemp as did the mayans and many other advanced early cultures.

Hemp uses range from textiles, rope, timber-replacements like paper and building materials, to apparel, furnishings, paint, animal bedding, food, cosmetics and medicine. If there was one plant made to “rule them all” hemp would be it.

Hemp products in New Zealand made from human consumption are currently limited to the seed-only with legislation preventing any other parts of the plant from being used. In time, we hope that hemp uses will increase in New Zealand as growing hemp in NZ becomes more popular. 

But we’ll need the laws to change before we can improve our economy with this great plant. For now, sit back and enjoy a cuppa while we cover hemp uses starting with apparel.


hemp uses in apparel

Hemp has been traced back to Indonesia having been spun into a usable material for clothing over 10,000 years ago. This is because hemp fiber is both light in weight and absorbs very well. It is also significantly stronger than cotton, with over three times the tensile density.

Once spun, hemp fiber can be used to make rope, jackets, t-shirts, shorts, shoes, jeans, dresses, hats, bags and much more. Anything you can make with cotton, you can make with hemp. Except with hemp, the clothing will last a lot longer due to its longer fibers, producing a stronger product.

Hemp can be blended with other fibers such as silk, cotton and elastin to further improve comfort and wearability, pending the garment. Hemp apparel is excellent for outdoor use as it is both UV and mold resistant. Hemp uses in apparel are incredible.

Growing hemp in NZ makes it less expensive to farm than cotton with it’s small land area needed and producing 5-10 tons of cellulose fiber pulp per acre in four months.

hemp uses for clothing

Before the ban on hemp in 1930, hemp clothing was the main fabric of choice worn by western people. If the garment wasn’t 100% hemp, it still retained around 80% hemp fabric.

Hemp clothing is very soft, but over time it actually gets softer and more comfortable. Compared to bamboo, which is similar in fiber strength, hemp wins for softness and comfort.

Growing hemp in NZ is better for the environment, too, needing half the water of cotton and no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, which is great.

As we mentioned previously, hemp grows quickly, with harvesting at four months and the entire plant can be used in some countries that allow the entire hemp plant to be used.

Animal bedding and litter

hemp uses animal litter

Hemp animal bedding and litter can be used for many creatures including cats, chickens and horses. Another feature for us environmentally folks, is that hemp bedding composts twice as fast as other forms of bedding and animal litter.

Hemp litter and animal bedding is the most absorbable out of any other forms on the market. These products are produced from the soft core of the hemp plant stem. Hemp bedding absorbs up to six times its own weight, making it incredibly absorbable. 

You can save money switching to hemp bedding and litter as it doesn’t need to be mucked out as often. Much more efficient than wood shavings or straw, especially for larger animals such as horses. Hemp uses with animals is second to none.

Because hemp bedding and litter requires no chemicals, bleaching or pesticides, animals are much safer. It also has a very low palatability along with low dust. Animals just aren’t interested in eating hemp bedding.

Hemp is extremely insulating during winter months and low odor. As it breaks down in just eight weeks before its ready to be used for for compost and fertilizer. 

Hemp Uses for Paint

hemp uses for paint

Hemp paint is made from hempseed oil and can be made into the same variety of colors you’ll find with more traditional paint options including metallic looking shades. Hemp paint, like many hemp products, is safe and ethical along with being naturally water resistant.

Hemp paint can be used on walls, wood, leather and metal. Hemp paint manufacturers allow you to choose your finish, and then they mix the color for you making hemp paint highly versatile just like the plant itself. Hemp uses for paint run into many colorful varieties.

Hemp paint is biodegradable, free of chemicals, non-toxic, lead-free, is green for those of us who care about the environment and sustainable with the hemp plant being ripe to produce the product in just four months.

Traditional paint fumes can make it a dangerous product to work with. But hemp paint is virtually odor-free and free from VOC so they won’t leave behind a smelly odor after you've used them. Hemp uses reach into paints, without invading your nostrils.

All of this makes hemp uses as a paint great for art and crafts and for use around the whole family. If you’re playing ‘renovations’ and you want to apply a fresh coat to furniture, no problem, with hemp paint you can leave a glossy or matte finish.

Hemp Plastic

hemp usage nz plastic

Hemp uses reach into plastic, too, with the door panels of some european cars being made from hemp plastic. One of our favorite things about hemp plastic, is that it’s biodegradable, unlike most other plastics out there.

Hemp plastic is made from the stems of the plant, which once removed, leaves 77% of cellulose. Cellulose is what makes up the building blocks of plants and trees. Cellulose derived plastic sources are biodegradable and lightweight, allowing it to replace other plastics; most of these are made from petrochemicals (which are not kind to our environment).

hemp uses plastic

Hemp plastics and hemp products assist us in the battle against global warming by sponging up CO2 and “locking in” the carbon. Hemp plastics can be produced with zero emissions and the resulting products are biodegradable making them the ideal alternative.

Hemp plastic can be created to withstand tremendous impact, demonstrated with Henry Ford’s composite hemp car made back in 1941 where he showed onlookers just how strong the composite was by beating the car with a club which left no dents in the bodywork.

hemp uses plastic 2

Henry Ford had this to say about hemp uses, "why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?"

In 1942 not long after Henry Ford’s car design, a plea was put forth to farmers to grow hemp for the war effort in a film called “Hemp For Victory” which you can watch below.

Hemp Uses in Cosmetics

Hemp oil skincare has been of great interest to the cosmetic industry since oil made from hempseeds was discovered to contain omega 3, 6 and 9 along with many other highly beneficial compounds.

We recently wrote this article on hemp oil for skin and now that hemp has been legalized around most parts of the world, we’re seeing a fast rise in the desire for hemp skin care products. In New Zealand it is legal to purchase skin care made from certain parts of the hemp plant.

hemp usage in cosmetics

When it comes to hemp oil skin care, there’s several hemp products you can purchase depending on which country you reside in. The hemp products vary based on what is legal in your country, but what is important to note is that hemp cosmetics are either or a combination of cold-pressed hemp seed oil, CBD oil, full spectrum, or broad spectrum.

All these names can be confusing so we recommend you click on the names of those products if you want to learn more about hemp uses as a powerful agent of change for the body.

Some hemp skincare and cosmetic items that are available world-wide range from hemp balm, hemp salves and creams, lotions, lip balms, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, shaving products and massage oils.

Hemp Food Uses

hemp usage in food

Hemp as a food has a long history especially when it comes to hemp hearts and hemp seeds due to their rich profile of essential fatty acids, complete proteins and healthy fibre content.

Some hemp food products include hemp milk, hemp oil, hemp protein powder, hemp cheese, hemp burgers, hemp snack bars, the list goes on.

Hemp milk is often used as a substitute for anything cow’s milk or other plant-based milks are used for such as in cereals, baking, tea or coffee.

Hemp uses as an oil range from cooking, baking and use in salads. Hemp oil has a mild, nutty flavor and goes well in many dishes and recipes, full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, you can’t go wrong.

Hemp protein powder is popular among fitness enthusiasts looking to supplement the amount of the protein they’re receiving from their diet. Hemp protein is a complete protein making it an excellent substitute for vegetarians, vegans or anyone looking for a high quality protein source that is plant-based.

Hemp cheese is a great dairy-free alternative to cheese made with cow’s milk. In fact, most animal products can be made into plant-based hemp alternatives that taste great, like hemp burgers and snack bars.

Hemp Uses in Homes

hemp usage in homes

Hemp can be used to build homes made of hempcrete. Which is a product made from three simple ingredients that are safe on the environment, they are water, lime-binder and hemp-aggregate.

Homes built with hemp have no equal. Hemp is a superior building material with homes built by hemp sequestering carbon for the life of the home. Hempcrete is highly insulating with strong thermal properties, but it also buffers temperature and humidity, which prevents mould growth in the home and that damp feeling, making it a solution for those wishing to live in a healthy environment.

hemp uses house hempcrete

In New Zealand there are homes made of hemp-crete completed in New Plymouth and Taranaki. Hempcrete is seven times the strength of traditional concrete and this material is also waterproof and fireproof. In learning that, why wouldn’t you build your next kiwi home with hempcrete? You can read the full article on Stuff NZ.

So there you have it. Seven hemp uses you probably didn’t know about the hemp plant until you read this article. If you jump on over to our blog you’ll find the latest research on all things hemp, cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system.

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