Hemp paper is paper made wholly or primarily from the fibres of the hemp plant.
Hemp, often known as industrial hemp, is the non-narcotic cousin of the drug cannabis or marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are both members of the Cannabis Sativa L plant species.
Because the process has changed over the decades, it is impossible to comprehend how hemp paper is created unless you understand its history.
Because of this botanical link, hemp was prohibited throughout much of the world in the twentieth century. Many countries, thankfully, have since rectified this human error. Hemp has been decriminalized since it has no psychoactive effects.
Historians believe that the Chinese invented paper over 2,200 years ago, around 150 BCE, using hemp fibres. It began in China and expanded to the Middle East, then to the rest of the world. Until 1883, all paper in the world was hemp paper.
Hemp paper was used to create the first printed Bible, known as the Gutenberg Bible or the 42-line Bible. The books of Mark Twain were also printed on hemp paper. Thomas Paine utilized hemp paper to create the flyers that promoted the concept of American independence.
Hemp paper was used to write the first two draughts of the American Declaration of Independence. The original draught of the United States Constitution was likewise written on hemp paper.
The contemporary use of hemp paper, on the other hand, is largely limited to specialty paper.
What’s the process behind manufacturing Hemp papers today?
Hemp stalk fibres are among the strongest plant fibres in terms of tensile strength. Long bast fibres and short hemp hurds or pulp fibres are produced by hemp stalks. Longer bast fibres come from the hemp stem’s outer layer, whereas hemp hurds relate to the woody inner core.
It is feasible to make hemp paper using both types of fibres. Paper created from long bast fibres is brittle, thin, and gritty in texture. Hemp hurds or pulp paper is thicker and softer. The manufacturing of paper from hemp pulp is also simplified.
Hemp paper, like regular paper, requires the fibres to be pulped into a slurry. Using hemp hurds makes this easier.
Some additives are used in the slurry in industrial papermaking. The next step is to eliminate the slurry’s surplus water. The slurry is spread over a movable continuous screen by the paper machine, and the water is drained by gravity or vacuum.
The moist paper is then dried by pressing it. The result is a roll of paper. Cutting the rolls into different paper sizes using automated cutters is frequently a distinct business that paper mills do not engage in.
The edges are one of the most noticeable distinctions between handmade and manufactured paper. The edges of the machine-cut paper are smooth. Deckles, which are wooden frames, are used to cut handmade paper into various sizes.
As a result, the edges are slightly uneven. They are known as deckle-edges, and they show that the paper was handcrafted.
It is not enough to understand how hemp paper is created. You must be aware of the advantages.
For the last 2000 years, hemp was the dominant source of papermaking until wood pulp replaced it in the twentieth century. The increasing interest in utilising hemp for papermaking stems from a growing awareness of the environmental risks associated with using forest paper.
Hemp is nature’s answer to all of the issues connected with the usage of wood paper. As a source of paper, hemp has a far higher renewability than forests. The amount of paper produced by one acre of hemp is equivalent to what four to ten acres of trees can produce over a 20-year period.
Because approximately 70% of wood is non-cellulose, the usage of chemicals to remove the non-cellulose components is much higher in the case of wood. Trees can take 20 to 80 years to develop. Hemp, on the other hand, is ready to use in four months.
Hemp paper is also far more durable than paper made from wood pulp. It will not be yellow and will not shatter as quickly as wood paper.
Hemp paper has a long history, as evidenced by ancient remains. Hemp paper is a natural replacement for acid-free paper, which is used to preserve vital documents.
An Aid to Mother Nature
If Mother Nature had a choice, she would choose hemp paper to wood paper. Hemp paper is significantly more eco-friendly than tree paper. Deforestation is a prime example. Between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 502,000 square miles (1.3 million square kilometers) of forest cover.
Using hemp instead of trees to make paper is one environmentally beneficial solution to the problem of deforestation. Hemp not only reduces the need for tree felling but also regenerates the soil.
Paper firms planting eucalyptus after removing all the trees in a region pales in comparison to hemp.
Another advantage of hemp paper is that it does not require bleaching. As a result, the manufacture of hemp paper reduces the possibility of polluting water with dioxin or chlorine, as paper mills do. The chemicals used to separate hemp fibres from lignin are considerably less hazardous.
‘Kenaf’ is the only plant that is more suitable for papermaking than hemp. Kenaf, on the other hand, does not grow as quickly as hemp and does not generate as much fibre as hemp. Hemp can satisfy all of our paper requirements, but kenaf does not.