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Hemp Q&A

Common questions about hemp

Our team gets interesting questions about hemp every day. We thought we would make a segment to answer your questions. 

What is hemp?

Hemp is often confused with the Cannabis plant that gets you "high". Hemp is from the same plant Genus but is a variation of the Cannabis Sativa plant. This variation has very little to no THC and is used for industrial and dietary purposes.

The plant соntаins all of thе еѕѕеntiаl аminо acids аnd mоѕt еѕѕеntiаl fatty acids nесеѕѕаrу to humаn bеingѕ fоr hеаlth. Thiѕ mеаnѕ that they are a rеliаblе рlаnt ѕоurсе оf соmрlеtе рrоtеin and unѕаturаtеd, hеаlthу fаtѕ. If you want to learn more  you should read our blog about the origin of hemp

Where do hemp seeds come from?

Hemp seeds are no different to normal plants. For a seed to form the flower of the plant must be pollinated. Did you know that the hemp plant is an inflorescence? This means it is a bundle of flowers. The bulk of the flowers are also called the head. In the cannabis plant this is the part that people trim, dry and use as medicine before pollination.

With Hemp plants since there is very little THC and CBD, they let the plant be pollinated so it forms seeds. Since the seed grows into a plant it requires a lot of energy. Inside the seed there is a portion called the cotyledon, this part of the inner seed has many nutrients and minerals (Dependent on the stage of development and soil nutrients). This is why hemp seeds are so good for you.  

When was hemp first used?

The first known use of hemp dates back 10,000 years used by the Chinese for its fibre. It is said that Yangshao pottery was found to have imprints of hemp which dates back to the 5th millennia.

Since hemp can grow fast it was known to be used as a textile before any other use. The Chinese first used hemp to make clothes, shoes, rope and paper from the pulp.

Can hemp get you high?

The industrial hemp plant must have a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content below 0.35 percent. This means you can smoke as much hemp as you want and you will get nothing more than a headache.

Funny enough cannabis is not the only plant with cannabinoid type compounds. Trace amounts of similar compounds can be found in sage, liverwort and recently discovered in flax seed. I guess the moral of the story is no, hemp cannot get you high 

When is hemp ready to harvest?

It takes 5-7 days for seedlings to first emerge from the soil. 7-10 days for the first leaves to show. For the next 10-25 days the second, third and fourth sets of leaves are formed. After this the hemp plant starts flowering between 25-30 days and the beginning of pollination happens 30-35 days later.

The peak time for the pollination is around 40-45 days from seedling. Around day 55 the first seeds will start to form. After 55-65 days pollination stops and a fragrant scent onset in between 50-60 days. At day 70-80, 30%-70% of the seeds start to mature. When it hits 90-100 days up to 80% of the seeds are now mature. Male flowers usually die at this stage as they have done the job of pollination and the seed-bearing female plants are now ready to be harvested. The whole process takes around 120 days.

Optimal growth with a high yield of seeds is during higher temperature seasons usually around summer, however numerous harvests can be achieved in a year. 

Why hemp is considered an eco-friendly crop?

Hemp can grow in many climates and can do so without much attention and care. Other crops may only be harvested once in a year where the hemp plant can be harvested many times in a year. This allows farmers to not use pesticides as they do not rely on one big harvest. Hemp is also considered eco-friendly due to the thousands of uses.

From Hemp clothing which is durable for a long time to the possibility of making hemp plastics. As hemp starts to replace items or substances that are toxic the more the plant becomes eco-friendly.

Some studies suggest that the hemp plant can also be used a remover of radioactive material in old dump sites. Other studies suggest that if you grow hemp plants in a plot it can be so good got the soil that you can harvest and plant other crops in that space and increase yield. The more research that is done on this plant the eco-friendly uses keep increasing 

What does hemp taste like?

Many varieties are available with slight difference in tastes. But hemp seed tastes like a cross between pine nuts and flax seeds. Some say it tastes like a planty green almond.

Ultimately 30% of the hemp seed is linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). The one food with the highest linolenic content is flax seed so you can image why most people associate the taste to that. 

What is hemp milk?

Hemp milk is a plant-based milk made from hemp seeds. The seeds can have the shell or be shelled and put in a blender. Water is then added to the seeds to be blended. This is then blended for a short amount of time to break the seeds and to let the insides mix with the water. You will then have a mixture of hemp seed solids, and milk.

The final steps of making the milk is then using a filter like a nut bag and the left-over seed matter is then separated from the liquid. As you filter and squeeze the cloth pure hemp seed milk will come out. The amount of water added in ratio to the seeds will then determine the creaminess of the milk. Once you have fully squeezed out all the liquid you will have pure 100% homemade hemp milk!

Are hemp seeds legal?

Hemp seeds were always legal in New Zealand however it must be non-viable seeds. This means you shouldn't be able to grow it. To have seeds that you can grow you must have a grower’s license which requires many checks and reasons to authorities. 

For non-viable seeds on the 12th of November 2018, the Ministry of primary industries published an article to confirm hemp seeds could be consumed by humans. You can now buy shelled hemp seeds to consume!

Are hemp seeds gluten free?

Gluten is primarily found in Wheat, Rye and Barley. Hemp does not contain gluten however Barley is commonly grown around hemp fields which give variety to a farm and the amount of crop a farmer can harvest. This, however, can easily contaminate the nearby hemp plants which then spreads the contamination over to the seeds during the harvesting process. 

 Can hemp oil lower cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat in your blood. Most cholesterol is made by your body, but eating fatty foods can lead to high cholesterol levels. Hemp oil and other hemp products are quite low in saturated fats which contribute to the bad type of cholesterol. Hemp oil consists of 90% good fats and around 10% of the bad fats. Consuming hemp seeds oil on a daily basis can help you lower your low-density lipoprotein while increasing your high-density lipoprotein.

So, what does this mean? Excessive amounts of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood can lead to narrowing of blood vessels and arteries. This a common factor contributing to heart disease and why low-density lipoproteins are considered harmful and said to be bad fats.

In comparison, high density lipoproteins (HDL) are known to capture the LDL and take it back to the liver to break down. This is why HDL or unsaturated fats are regarded as good fats. With a good diet and regular exercise daily intake of hemp seed oil like flax seed oil or avocado oil can help you reduce chances of heart disease. 

How hemp oil is made?

The first step is to harvest the plant and remove the seeds. Once the plant matter is separated from the seeds it is collected and put through a cold press. What’s a cold press? Well literally it’s a contraption that compacts and presses the seeds under cold conditions.

The seeds are squeezed and oil is extracted to give a dark green to light green oil full of nutrients. The oil is then bottled in amber or dark coloured vessel and stored in cool temperatures. It is important to extract the oil in room temperature or less to make sure all the nutrients are retained in the oil.

Once the oil is exposed to heat or sunlight for a prolonged amount of time the oils nutrients start to break down and also the nutty flavour starts to turn rancid.

 Are hemp seeds good for you?

Hemp seed nutrition is are extremely underrated. Packed with good fats like Omega 3 and Omega 6. Mineral rich like potassium, magnesium, iron and many more that help your body stay balanced. You can sprinkle hemp seeds on any food being salads, breakfast, smoothies or even your desserts it works with everything. It gives an extra boost to any foods nutritional content and highly recommend to be a part of your diet. 

Can hemp replace plastic?

It can replace plastics in the future however there are some barriers that we have to cross as a global economy. But let’s talk about how it can be done. Hemp is a plant that has around 65%-75% cellulose. Cellulose is the stuff cello tape is made from. Cellulose is found in the cell wall of plants which helps connects cells to make tissues.

A simple way to make this is when the plant is pulped and heated in water at a temperature of 50°C-90°C. This separates the components of cellulose. This then can be further treated to make different forms of cellulose which effects the structure and feel of the product. 

If it’s such an easy way to make plastic why hasn't it been done yet? Well compared to the amount of petroleum oil-based plastics compared to hemp or plant-based plastics it proves to be cost effective. But with a more conscious society that care about the future of sustainable living it might not be too far away.

Lego are plastic giants and they are looking into making the LEGO blocks with a hemp composite. So, things are slowly changing and when there is a cost-effective way to produce hemp plastics it will take over the industry like a storm.  

How hemp fabric is made? 

After harvest the stalks are put through a retting process. This process is leaving the stalks on the fields and turning them over after a couple of days for weeks. This eventually separates the fibres from the bark. There are many methods large processors accomplish this with, some include: enzymes, chemicals or machinery. The purpose of this is to allow natural micro-organisms and chemical processes to take place and break down the stalk.

The stalks then further processed with the breaking stage. This is where the stalks go through rollers crushing the stalks. The broken stalks are then beaten to release the desired fibres separating the bark. The fibres are then combed further removing bark and then twisted to give extra strength. Finally the fibre material which is now called the "silver" is  spun in a machine like cotton or wool. From there the thread is no workable to be woven into fabric!

How hemp paper is made?

Hemp fibres must be firstly beaten to break down the strong structure. It is firstly put into a pot of water for more than 24 hours. This allows the fibres to soften ready for paper making. Sodium carbonate is then added to aid in the breakdown process.

The hemp fibre mixture is then put on a stove to simmer for around 4 hours. Once the fibres are softened water is strained out and the fibres are washed with clean water. This fibrous pulp is ten pulled apart and pulverized to make a pulp. This pulp is then mixed with clean water and then put on a deckle. A deckle looks like a wooden frame which is filled and compressed with the hemp pulp. The frame is then covered by cotton fabric and pressed with wooden boards and bricks on top.

After two days the pulp would of dried and there you go, some natural made hemp paper.  

Can hemp oil regrow hair?

Hemp oil can't magically regrow hair from damaged follicles unfortunately. What hemp oil can do is help protect your hair and scalp. Hair can fall from using synthetic hair products and also from washing your hair with warm water. What happens is the natural oils are stripped from your hair and it dehydrates your scalp. This then causes hair to turn brittle and have weak follicles which leads to hair breakage.

Hemp oil helps coat your hair and scalp with essential fatty acids and nutrients preventing loss of moisture and ensuring your hair does not turn brittle or your scalp turn dry. After routine use most people will think that hemp oil is helping their hair grow but in fact its preventing hair loss and retaining natural hair oils giving a fuller and healthier feeling to hair. 

Hemp vs weed?

This is the most common question that many people have difficulty in getting answers to. Hemp is from the same plant as "weed" however it contains hardly any psychoactive substances which gives you a high. Hemp is generally used for its fibre used in clothing, construction, fabric, rope etc. Hemp seeds can be used as a food sourced and processed to make oil and milk from.

Weed is another name for medicinal or recreational forms of cannabis. This variation of the cannabis plant contains THC and CBD. Even though there are many positive uses of these compounds they remain illegal in New Zealand. Hemp is the variation that is used for industrial and food purposes which are now legal to use for these reasons.