Hempcrete: The Billion Dollar Building Material

Hempcrete: The Billion Dollar Building Material

It could revolutionize home building and construction. If only people could get past the fact that it’s made from hemp.

Hemp is a nuisance. It has this way of growing into a wide variety of uses, from clothing, to paper, to medicine and yes, building materials. Suffice to say, the million-dollar corporations that run the paper industry, the textile industry and others aren’t a fan.

Some would even argue that it is hemp’s fault that cannabis ever became illegal in the first place, because it was stepping on the toes of the cotton and paper industries in the early 1900s. But nevertheless, we’ve entered a new age of hemp legalization, and the opportunities are vast.

While there is a very heavy focus in the hemp industry on CBD products, and hemp biomass for extracting that CBD, another hemp-derived product has been gaining traction. Hempcrete has been a word seldom tossed around among construction and home building circles since the mid-2000s, but it’s finally getting a little bit of the limelight (surprisingly, pun unintended).

What is Hempcrete?

What do you get when you add hemp and concrete together? Hempcrete. It isn’t quite that simple of course, as it’s not really concrete at all. It’s actually hemp and lime mixed together, and that’s really about it.

Hempcrete is made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant and a lime-based binder. It is the hemp’s higher silica value that allows it to bind well with lime. This creates a strong, lightweight product that has been used an effective and durable building material for centuries.

What makes hempcrete unique isn’t merely the fact that it contains hemp, but its potential applications in construction.

Hempcrete Applications

While there are hempcrete buildings dating back to the 6th Century that are still standing today, more modern usage has seen hempcrete utilized as insulation. Due to its light weight, it is not a standalone building material, and must be assisted with wooden beams or other types of support.

Modern day building materials are either mined from the earth or harvested from centuries old forests. Hemp can be harvested annually in perpetuity. One acre of hemp provides as much paper as 4.1 acres of trees. Considering trees take decades to grow and hemp takes about 4 months in comparison, the advantages are obvious.

Some companies have developed hempcrete bricks that account for its light weight and help it to stand on its own without added support, which is going to advance the applications of hempcrete as a building material even more.

Why Does Hempcrete Matter?

If you haven’t noticed as of late, housing isn’t getting any cheaper. This is in part due to the fact that construction costs are also increasing. Concrete needs to be made from scratch with a variety of raw materials that can become difficult to source, especially with so much demand for concrete.

With Hempcrete however,  just the pure scale of its applications and potential replacements of other materials in construction will make a huge difference in the future of the housing market. Just think about the costs (and potential health risks) of insulation and how Hempcrete can completely revolutionize how we keep our homes insulated.

The passing of the Farm Bill at the end of 2018 has opened up the national hemp industry across the U.S. with untapped potential in Hempcrete. While many businesses are focused on the hemp plant or its derivatives like CBD, not too many people are capitalizing on the plant’s material applications.

There’s a lot of money to be made in the legal hemp industry, if you start working now. If you want a less saturated competitive space with the potential for widespread expansion, Hempcrete and other hemp materials could be your new avenue.

Learn more about the many applications hemp can have in a new legal industry on The Real Dirt Podcast.

Check out some of our Hempisodes here.

The Best Hemp Products for Growing

The Best Hemp Products for Growing

You can plant a seed in the ground, give it water and hope for the best. Or you can get the best hemp products for growing and blow away the competition.

Growing hemp indoors will produce higher quality results than that of hemp grown outdoors on a large scale. Not to any fault of the grower, but due to the conditions of growing outdoors, the plants just have to endure more, including changing weather. Indoors, all of this can be avoided to grow hemp that looks and smells great.

However if you are growing industrial hemp on a large scale, there are still some hemp products in this list that you can utilize to increase productivity.

Hemp Products for Propagation

Whether you’re starting from seed or clone, you’ll need to start them in a controlled environment indoors. Whatever option you choose, you are best off putting those seeds or clones into some root plugs. There’s rockwool, coco, peat and other options you can try to hold your young plants, but you’ll need somewhere to put all of them once your seed and cuttings are put into the plugs.

Cheap and easy, all you need is a 50-cell plastic tray, or a 72-cell tray to house your root plugs. You’ll also need a bottom tray to hold your cells. This will make it much easier to move your plants around once they start to bulk up plus you can get them with holes for extra aeration and drainage.

Best Lights for Growing Hemp

When you are still in the propagation stage, T5 lights are one of the most common and effective options. They are also easy to find compared to other specialty lights.

The great thing about T5 lights is that you can easily increase their effective range. You can have two bulbs in one fixture to cover a smaller area, or if you have a larger propagation area pick up a 4×8 T5 ballast to cover twice as much area with one fixture.

Another great light option for propagation is LED light fixtures. LEDs can be expensive, but they are extremely cost effective and efficient in the grow. You can get just a single bulb, up to entire strips and fixtures depending on the area you need to cover. The best option by far though, is the 315 LEC (Light Emitting Ceramic) bulb.

Also known as a CMH (Ceramic Metal Halide), a 315 LEC bulb packs a lot of light power into one bulb. It is great for bulking up your plants during the vegetation stage, and is powerful enough to continually provide the light they need all the way through flower, resulting in healthier, more consistent yields.

You Need Rolling Benches

Hemp can be a vivacious plant that grows tall and wide if not trained and trimmed consistently. The bigger your plants get, the heavier they will become and the more space they will take up. If you just throw your pots on the ground or on a roller for each individual pot, you’ll be spending a lot of time moving plants back and forth just to get through your grow.

With rolling benches, all that extra work is gone. You can get benches as small or large as you need, and it allows you keep your plants in the same place, while still being able to move them easily. Benches are essential for optimizing the space in your grow.

You can push them together when you need more space, and you can push them apart to easily create walkable aisles. Without rolling benches, you’ll be spending way more time just trying to squeeze between plants without breaking branches.

To really succeed in growing the best hemp, there is more you’ll need to add to this list. Irrigation, humidity and other environmental controllers, the nutrients you use and more can all be a game changer if you aren’t putting as much focus into them right now.

Get some of the best tips for which products you should use, whether to grow form seed or clones and more on The Real Dirt Podcast.

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