Industrial hemp has gotten a lot of attention recently due to its environmental benefits and diverse applications. The more research that manufacturers and scientists put into learning about hemp, the more uses they uncover for this incredible plant.
A major drive in the industry is to develop uses for the different types of fibers found in the stalks of industrial hemp. With the impetus of creating environmentally-friendly building materials and agricultural supplies, hemp hurd has gained a good deal of traction recently.
With hurd fiber, manufacturers are taking parts from the hemp plant previously considered waste and making them into usable products. To help our readers get more clarity on the topic of hemp hurd, we put together this brief exploration.
Industrial Hemp Fibers
People have been cultivating hemp for its fibers for thousands of years. Whether it be ancient China or medieval Europe, hemp has played a critical role in human history as a source of both textiles and paper. Today, advancements in science have led to the development of new uses for hemp in building materials.
According to the study Properties Characterization of Chemically Modified Hemp Hurds, “Composites derived from natural and fast renewable resources, especially cellulosic materials, are increasing in importance due to their numerous advantageous properties for application in sustainable building constructions.” Importantly, hemp falls nicely into this newfound focus on renewable resources.
Industrial hemp stalks contain two key types of fibers: bast and hurd. Bast fibers are long and string-like and found on the outer portions of hemp stalks. Conversely, hurd fibers resemble wood chips in their structure and are found in the interior of hemp stalks.
What is Hemp Hurd?
While bast fibers have been the primary focus for traditional hemp farming, hurd fibers have long been considered a waste byproduct. As manufacturers are coming to discover new uses for hurd, they are literally building an industry out of nothing.
Due to their woodchip-like consistency, hemp hurd is sometimes referred to as “hemp shives.”. While many hurd products resemble woodchip products, others are further processed into building materials.
One of the most amazing things about hurds is the fact they make up around 70% of the usable fibers found in industrial hemp. As such, hemp hurd product manufacturing not only allows producers to commoditize byproducts, but also lessens the amount of agricultural waste coming from hemp farms. As such, the environmental benefits of hurd production are multi-faceted.
How to Make Hemp Hurd
Concerning cultivation, harvest, and initial processing, hemp hurd is made the same way as hemp bast. These early steps of hurd processing are dedicated to separating usable fibers from excess plant materials in hemp stalks.
Harvest: Harvest is the first step in making hemp hurd. Industrial hemp plants are best harvested right after the flowering period, as this is when fibers are at their strongest.
Retting: Retting is a critical process in hurd manufacturing. With retting, hemp farmers allow the stalks to break down and rot so they are easier to process. Hemp farmers utilize two primary types of retting: field retting and wet retting. However, field retting is by far the most affordable and popular choice for hemp farmers.
Breaking: After stems have softened through retting, they are then further broken down. During the breaking phase, bast and hurd are loosened in preparation for separation from other plant materials.
Decortication: Decortication is the step where hurd fibers are separated from bast fibers. Once separated, each type of fiber travels a different path in the industrial hemp product supply chain. While bast will be made into clothing and textiles, hurd will be made into building materials and agricultural supplies.
Final Processing: After the hurd is separated from the bast, it undergoes more processing as it is manufactured into different products. As such, all hemp hurd production is identical up to a point, where it then differs when it comes to making different products. To illustrate, hemp hurd panels will undergo several more manufacturing steps than mulch made from hemp hurd.
Hemp Hurd Uses
One of the primary motivations behind hemp cultivation today is the environmental movement. Not only is hemp easy to grow, but it is far more renewable than other resources such as timber, petroleum, and minerals.
Because hemp hurd has very unique properties, it can be manufactured into a number of products. Importantly, the “thermal, mechanical, acoustic and aseptic” properties of hemp hurd make it an incredible “organic filler in composite[s].” Due to these diverse properties, hemp hurd uses are far-reaching.
Hemp Hurd Bedding: Animal bedding is one of the most traditional uses for hemp hurd. Not only is hemp hurd bedding highly absorptive, but it does not cause allergic reactions in people and animals as often seen with straw and wood shavings.
Hempcrete: As the name implies, hempcrete is used as a substitute for concrete. Hempcrete is lightweight, fire-resistant, and has amazing insulation properties. Hemp hurd for hempcrete is most commonly formed into bricks, blocks, and panels. These products are then used for a variety of non-load bearing applications in construction.
Insulation: Insulation made from hemp hurd offers an eco-friendly alternative to fiberglass insulation. Hemp insulation is 100% biodegradable and doesn’t irritate the eyes and skin. Even more, hemp insulation performs just as well as traditional insulation.
Wood Pellets: Wood pellet stoves are a popular method for heating people’s homes. These stoves are fueled by wood pellets made from sawdust and woodchips. Manufacturers have recently begun making pellets for wood stoves out of hemp hurd.
Mulch: Mulch is also a popular use for hemp hurd. Because hemp plants grow far quicker than trees, mulch made from hemp-hurd is considered more eco-friendly than that made from wood sources.
Contact High Grade Hemp Seed
We are thrilled to see the new advancements in hemp hurd product manufacturing. As the industry progresses, there is no doubt we will only see more advancements with hemp hurd. Please contact us with questions you may have about hemp hurd.