The versatility of hemp is outstanding. Not only does it work great as clothing, food, and medicine, but it is also excellent building material. Best-known for its long fibers and woody stalk, the base materials of the hemp plant have plenty of outstanding properties.
Hempconcrete, an industrial hemp building product, is sustainable and resistant to fire, water and sound. Overall, an excellent substitute for concrete. Do you need proof this new hemp product can help build the future of construction? Then, read on to learn everything you need to know about hempcrete.
Hempcrete’s Unique Promise and Properties
Many people don´t know that the construction industry takes up almost half of the energy consumption in the world. Does that sound like a lot? Because it is! However, believe it or not, there is a product that could change that forever, and it’s called: hempcrete. This product is a much better option than other materials in terms of sustainability.
On the other hand, we have to consider that hemp is not an exact alternative to concrete. It has some great uses, but it can’t replace concrete outright. It helps improve structures and eliminates the use of other unneeded construction materials. Besides, it offers some properties concrete lacks.
How Hempcrete is Made
Let´s cut straight to the point. What is hempcrete, and how is it made? This fantastic product is produced using the core of industrial hemp. The core has a consistency similar to wood. This part of the plant, called the “hurd,” is mixed with a binding material made out of lime. This core can bind with lime, thanks to the high amount of silica content it has. The result? Our lightweight cementitious material. Hempcrete weighs much less than concrete, and it has such a low density that it floats in water!
The hemp stalk is the essential component of the plant to make hempcrete. It is usually forgotten. Instead, parts like the seeds keep increasing in demand. Manufacturers of hemp products tend to use what they need and discard the rest. This means that the amount of usable hemp stalks keeps increasing while costs go down.
How Hempcrete is Used
Nowadays, hempcrete is developing a niche following as a construction material. This is the case, especially for walls. Even though hempcrete is weaker than traditional concrete, it works excellent for infilling or coating the walls. In short, most commonly, builders use hempcrete in two different ways. They either form it into blocks and then use it or place forms out of it to dry.
How Hempcrete is Valuable
Hey, ready to be convinced of the value of this hemp building material? Below, you can find the many properties that make hempcrete unique. Read on to, like many builders, begin the journey towards loving this product.
The National Fire Protection Association reported that between 2014-2018, on average, 353,100 home structure fires occurred per year. This resulted in 2,620 deaths, 11,030 injuries, and $7.2billion in direct property damage per year. The damage and emotional harm fires have caused are unfathomable.
Luckily, using hempcrete, many fires could be prevented, as it is fireproof. Yes, you heard it right; hempcrete doesn´t burn. Hempcrete aced the ASTM E 84, the standard test used to assess the burning characteristics. Hempcrete’s score was a 0 on an index called the Flame spread. The scale used for this index goes from 0 to 450, which is a lot. Having that low of a score is great!
- Insulation Qualities
Probably one of hempcrete´s most exciting qualities is that it can act as an insulating material. Let me tell you how this works. Hempcrete’s U-value is .40. The idea is that the closer a material is to 0, the more insulating material is. In this case, hemp is far better than materials like wool or cotton.
This material is highly breathable to the extent that it releases and absorbs water vapor well. Hempcrete’s vapor permeability results in an ability to stabilize the temperature of a building. These principles of evaporation and condensation are applied to this wonderful material make it highly efficient.
- Water Proof
Hempcrete succeeds where others fail. Being waterproof and root resistant, this material is perfect for water exposure. Its blend with lime, its high acidity, which causes antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
- Waste Control/CO2 Sequestration
Do you want to reduce drywall and fiberglass insulation? Then use hempcrete! Moreover, this product helps in dealing with vast amounts of CO2. Hempcrete is as “green” as they come. The hemp plant absorbs carbon dioxide! This is done during its growth cycle, but it doesn´t end there! Hempcrete continues to absorb CO2 also! Moreover, this product´s breathability only intensifies its quality.
- Sound Proof
Are you tired of hearing your neighbor’s arguing, maybe even their baby crying? Do you hate the loud music that won´t allow you to get any sleep? Hempcrete is perfect for you! It can act as a noise-canceling material and save you the time and money to take additional measures.
- Structural Advantages
A wall infilled with hempcrete will be stronger than any other wall with insulation and drywall. Even though hempcrete alone cannot be used as a pure structural material, this could change soon. Hempcrete, in its current forms, is used to fill walls and strengthen structural elements. Besides, hempcrete is three times more malleable than concrete. This makes it an excellent material to face earthquakes. Studies have found how useful hempcrete’s bricks are at reinforcing the structural skeleton of already existing buildings.
The Bottom Line
As a building material, hempcrete has plenty of advantages in comparison to other materials. For one, it is more environmentally friendly. Besides, no wolf will be able to blow your house down. Moreover, while you enjoy the perfect temperature of your house, you won´t even notice the wolf. At night, you will be able to rest without worrying about the wolf burning down your house. If the three pigs had had a house made of industrial hemp, they would have lived happily ever after.
Walter was not an engineer even from the first day he stepped at the University of California in Los Angeles. He only had to fulfill his Father's wish to pursue civil engineering. He graduated in 2015, and he started practicing as a writer. His passion was thriving in the hemp industry following the controversies and myths about the plant. Walter E. Russo later embarks on a full-time job in a hemp website, and he now delivers informative content on everything you should know about hemp. His in-depth research and elaborate skills have earned him a reputation as a trusted writer. He enjoys watching football during his leisure hours.