During my research of topics to write about I have noticed many people discussing Hemp House Construction over conventional construction techniques. Many homesteaders obviously want something unique in where they live and what they want to live in. The question typically is this. How can I build my own little place to live in that’s more affordable, stable enough to be safe, and provide enough insulating value that i can handle the summer heat or the cold in the winter? They also want something that they can build with their own hands and use natural products from the earth instead of chemically treated lumber, Fiberglass insulation, and other products.
Let’s start by understanding what Hemp is and it’s many uses. Wikipedia has a great explanation of what is it and the many uses other than construction.
Hemp, or industrial hemp explanation can be found HERE
Hemp or Industrial Hemp has many uses such as foods, textiles, Plastics composites, paper, jewelry, shoes, ropes, animal beddings, weed control, water purification, and biofuels. While the hemp plant stems are used for fiber, the seeds are used for medicinal and food uses. Below is an example image of the Hemp stem fibers from the plant.
Using Hemp in Construction:
Hempcrete is a natural building material. It is breathable and has excellent thermal qualities in construction.
This is a Hempcrete fill used in the construction process.
Photo Credit: Alex Sparrow
Hempcrete or Hemplime is bio-composite material, a mixture of hemp hurds (shives) and lime (possibly including natural hydraulic lime sand, pozzolans) used as a material for construction and insulation. It is marketed under names like Hempcrete, Canobiote, Canosmose, and Isochanvre. Hempcrete is easier to work with than traditional lime mixes and acts as an insulator and moisture regulator. It lacks the brittleness of concrete and consequently does not need expansion joints.
Hempcrete has been used in France
since the early 1990’s to construct non-weight bearing insulating
infill walls, as hempcrete does not have the requisite strength for
constructing foundation and is instead supported by the frame. France continues to be an avid user of hempcrete; it is growing in popularity annually.
Like other plant products, hemp absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows, retaining the carbon and releasing the oxygen. Theoretically 165 kg of carbon (or 363 pounds) can be absorbed and locked up by 1 m3(or 264 Pounds) of hempcrete wall during manufacture. Keep in mind, like most things related to heating and air and insulation, it’s in BTU’s or British Thermal Units.
The typical compressive strength is around 1 MPa (or around 145 Pounds per square inch), around 1/20 that of residential grade concrete.
It is a low density material and resistant to crack under movement thus
making it highly suitable for use in earthquake-prone areas. Hempcrete
walls must be used together with a frame of another material that
supports the vertical load in building construction, as hempcrete’s density is 15% that of traditional concrete.
While it may be the desired choice over concrete products here in the United States, in many places permits are needed to purchase Hemp based products or bi products. Many of the plants grown in the United States under permit have a relatively low THC concentration and have no adverse side effects on humans. Hempcrete construction however can be a very hands on process in mixing and applying the mixture in your construction projects.
HERE is a video about Hemp and its many uses.
The Benefits of Hemp and Hempcrete Construction
1. Hemp stops the Carbon Emissions in your Home
Hemp is the only building
material that can actually remove carbon from the air. Other methods of
insulation, like fiberglass, have a significant carbon footprint. Hemp
in your home can actually help to reduce the carbon emissions made from
our daily lives.
We spend so much time and money building and
rebuilding our homes, so why not include a resource that protects our
planet? Imagine your home being able to clean the air for you!
2. It’s Safer for Those With Environmental Allergies or Sensitivities
The products used in and around homes make a massive impact on our health and our lives, so its important to make sure they are safe to be around. Hemp is a very clean and non-toxic plant, due to the fact that it requires little to no pesticides or herbicides to grow. Hemp can also be harvested and processed in a safe manner without the use of harsh chemicals. Using Hemp in your home can protect you and your loved ones from environmental issues and illness that result from other building materials.
3. Hempcrete Breathes Well
due to the plant’s porosity, can soak up water from the air and release
it when the moisture level decreases. Like we mentioned earlier,
hempcrete can sequester carbon, but it can also absorb a substantial
amount of heat and humidity when things get hot. And we think that’s
4. It’s a Bonus!
Hemp is typically
grown for it’s seed or fiber, with the hurd being left behind. This means
that while a large agricultural hemp grow can be turned into clothing,
rope, or even hemp seed oil, the remnants can also be utilized to make
hempcrete. While other plants and their processes create detrimental
waste, almost every part of the hemp plant can be used for something
5. Hempcrete is Super Strong
though hempcrete is not generally used for structural framing, it can
be added around the building structure to reap the benefits. When
hempcrete is used around studs, it can prevent them from buckling and
bending under significant loads. Hemp can truly be the backbone of a
structurally sound home!
The vast uses of hemp are pretty amazing,
and we certainly look forward to the future of hemp-centric home
building. Not only can you stay comfortable in your house, but you can
rest easy knowing your family is safe, while you’re reducing your carbon
Would you incorporate hempcrete into your future home? We would love to hear from you on this…