In this topic,
Can Hemp Replace Cotton? Although cotton has long been touted as the fabric of the Clothing industry and our daily life, hemp fibres are superior. Both Hemp vs Cotton have a long history with humans. Hemp has been used for many years. It grew worldwide, and ancient civilizations quickly recognized its myriad benefits. Hemp is a robust, resilient plant.
Its solid and fibrous stalks make it suitable for use in construction. Hemp seeds are popular with modern people who follow the paleo diet and other nutritional regimens since they are also very nutritious. It was the material we most frequently used to create fibres, garments, ropes, bedding, fishing nets, etc. Cannabis plant fibres were utilized for making paper, and its seeds are a valuable food source.
Cotton and hemp are closely related. Humans have used both for many years and can be used to make textiles. However, hemp use is at an all-time low due to the marijuana prohibition. Cotton production may be traced back to about 6,000 B.C. It was created from the seeds of a plant that belonged to the mallow family. Worldwide, many millions of tonnes of cotton are produced each year.
As it’s crucial to view things holistically, we’ll need to concentrate on many factors that must be considered when comparing the two to decide which is better for us and our environment. Hemp, however, is superior to cotton for several apparent reasons.
How is Hemp Fabric Made
Manufacturers have created many processes to convert bast fibres into hemp cloth over time. These are listed below:
Step 1: Cutting and Retting
Although it is technically possible to cut the plants with a sickle, this is rarely how commercial crops are grown on a big scale. The harvester for hemp is a device made especially for this plant. Running the cutter bars four to five feet above the ground is crucial.
The Hemp stalks are then chopped, baled, and allowed to rest for roughly five weeks in the field. Stocks can be simultaneously cut and baled by machinery. Retting, however, is a crucial step in the fibre separation process.
Retting breaks down the pectin and separates the fibre from the non-fibre stem portions. The most organic retting method is to leave the stalks in the field, where dew, natural bacteria, and fungi will do the job. For resting, some farmers soak the stems in water. Some people use chemicals like enzymes to speed up the retting process. Whatever the method, it’s critical to ensure the stalks are completely dry before moving on to the next step.
Step 2: Breaking
Simply separating the dried hemp fibres from the hurds or shives—the wooden stem core—is known as breaking. Previously, this process required severe physical labour, but the decorticator machine has dramatically simplified it. Decorticating removes the top layer, and a decorticator is a device for separating other plant fibres.
Step 3: Scrunching
After breaking the fibres, the stems are beaten to remove the rest of the woody cores from the strands. The goal of this phase is to remove any remaining undesired elements from the separation process. Naturally, hemp hurds has been used on their own. But they are an impurity that needs to be eliminated during the fibre extraction procedure.
Step 4: Hackling
The stems are combed to remove contaminants. The line and two fibres are separated by the hackling (or heckling comb). The fibres of the line are made straight and tidy by hackling combs. The two threads are baled and used to make staffing, pulp, and coarse yarn. Then, linen fibres are spun to create beautiful textiles for the clothing industry.
Step 5: Roving and Spinning
Roving is the final process before hemp fibres are wound into spinning bobbins. Next, the line fibres are further twisted and drawn out to strengthen hemp fibre. Hemp fibres can be turned in two different ways: wet and dry.
Wet spinning makes finer yarns appropriate for a range of apparel using water. Tow fibres and remaining line fibres are typically the only fibres used in dry spinning to create coarser yarns. Coarser yarns are utilized to make carpets, purses, shoes, and other items. Clothing designed from finer yarns has a linen-like feel to it. Because hemp textiles are so breathable, they make for incredibly comfortable summer clothing.
How is Cotton Fabric Made
Bolls, the fibrous, protective covering that encloses cotton seeds, are used by cotton fabric manufacturers to create this cloth. Although cotton seeds are pretty small, the bolls surrounding them can be as big as the tip of your thumb. Therefore, producers must remove the cotton seed from the boll before using it to make cotton cloth.
Modern cotton gins can be mechanized, which makes the procedure much more straightforward for workers. Machines may harvest cotton bolls from agricultural fields, and other appliances can subsequently separate the seeds from the bolls.
When cotton seeds are planted during springtime, cotton production gets underway. Most of the time, automated machines concurrently plant cotton seeds in 10 or more rows. Within seven days or so, seedlings develop, and mature cotton bolls appear between 55 and 80 days later.
Cotton is delivered to a textile manufacturing plant after being cleaned until it is made entirely of pure cotton fibres, free of seeds or garbage. The raw cotton is carded at this factory, which is the process of separating cotton fibres into lengthy strands. These strands are then spun to produce yarn.
The foundational material for cotton fabrics is finished at this point. The cotton yarn can subsequently undergo various chemical processes, including dyeing. After then, it is woven into a specific kind of textile, like a bedsheet, a T-shirt, or a pair of blue jeans.
Properties of Hemp Fabric
- Breathable: Clothing made of hemp is breathable and doesn’t retain moisture or develop odours because it doesn’t support the growth of bacteria and mould.
- Durable: Clothing made from hemp is three times more durable than cotton, and its fibres can bend and mend six times more than steel. Durable
- No Pests: Cannabis sativa is naturally hardy and resistant. Therefore neither pesticides nor herbicides are required.
- Grows Fast: Hemp overgrows.
- Good for Soil: Hemp is good for the soil since it returns a significant amount of nutrients to the growing environment.
- Less Water: Cotton, which needs around 50% more water each season than hemp, uses less water overall than hemp.
- Less Space: It occupies a modest amount of space on the land, leaving tiny footprints.
- Most Organic: Hemp fabric can degrade organically in as little as two weeks, unlike synthetic materials, which will remain in landfills for hundreds of years.
Properties of Cotton Fabric
- Softness: Because of how fluffy and delicate the cotton plant is, the cloth it produces frequently has a similar soft feel.
- Robustness: Because of the robust cellular structure of the cotton plant, the fabric is durable and resistant to wear and tear.
- Solubility: Cotton fabric is exceptionally absorbent.
- Retains Colour well: Cotton may be transformed into a wide range of colours due to its easy dye absorption.
- Breathability: Cotton is more breathable than synthetic fabrics due to its fibre structure.
- No static cling: Static is not a problem with cotton because it does not conduct electricity.
Hemp Vs Cotton: Which is Better for the Environment
Hemp requires less space to grow because of its density. Hemp can yield 1500 pounds of fibre per acre, three times more than cotton in the same room. Because hemp is a bio-accumulator and uses little to no pesticides to grow, it can also minimize soil pollution, in contrast to cotton production, which employs more than 16% of the world’s insecticides.
Hemp can grow with less irrigation, whereas cotton requires roughly 50% more water every season.
Hemp is a robust, dependable plant that develops swiftly. Additionally, hemp generates between 200% and 250% more fibre on an equivalent quantity of land compared to cotton.
Pesticides and other chemicals can substantially harm human health. Additionally, cotton is frequently grown in dry regions of the world.
Hemp Vs Cotton: Sustainability
Because of its unique qualities, hemp is one of the most environmentally friendly materials. Hemp cloth is frequently regarded as the future of slow fashion due to its natural fibres and low water consumption. Additionally, as humans have been farming it for thousands of years, we know that it has no adverse ecological effects; rather, as we have already seen, it aids in soil regeneration.
It doesn’t necessarily follow that all businesses won’t want to use herbicides and insecticides, though, just because they aren’t strictly necessary. Additionally, even though hemp is a sustainable plant, unethical working conditions are not necessarily avoided. Because of this, it’s still crucial to purchase hemp clothes from businesses that are open about their supply chain and production processes.
So is Hemp More Sustainable than Cotton?
Yes, we agree that hemp is superior to cotton from a sustainability standpoint. However, due to issues including its high water consumption and extensive use of pesticides and chemicals, traditionally cultivated cotton leaves a negative environmental impact. Additionally, hemp can yield up to three times as much fibre per hectare as cotton.
Hemp Vs Cotton: Versatility of Use
Hemp can already be used in over 20,000 distinct ways, according to estimates. Making papers, meals, body care products, clothes, textiles, ropes, fuels, and construction materials are some of the most typical uses for hemp. Hemp can be an excellent substitute for plastic because it takes about 80 to 90 days to decay biologically fully. In addition, hemp is a superior building material since it is light, fireproof, waterproof, self-insulating, and pest-resistant.
We all know that cotton is used to make T-shirts, jeans, socks, fishing nets, coffee filters, and other items. Aside from clothing, cotton is also used to make curtains, bandages, swabs, banknotes, cotton buds, and x-rays.
Cotton has served us well during the last few decades since industrial hemp cultivation was prohibited in our nation. This is not to say that cotton, primarily when grown organically, is a lousy material; it’s just that hemp outperforms cotton in almost every way.
Hemp has gained popularity in India’s startup scene. With good reason, it is increasingly becoming the face of sustainability in India. The only direction for the Indian hemp industry is forward with its widening array of various goods. Hemp offers several advantages over cotton, particularly regarding the environment.
Why is Hemp Better than Cotton
- Grows in two months.
- Environmentally Sustainable.
- It has minimal to no need for artificial fertilizers to grow.
- 1 kg of fibre requires 2,300 gallons of water.
- Both industrial and medical uses are possible for it.
- Except for Antarctica, it can be grown on every continent.
- Completely Degradable.
- Excellent food sources are high in protein, amino acids, and fat.
- It can stop the destruction of forests.
- Weeds are naturally eliminated.
- Extensive Historical use.
- It needs about five months to complete Fibre Production.
- It doesn’t respect the environment.
- Chemically bred animals (pesticides, herbicides, etc.)
- Has a significant water irrigation need.
- Due to exposure to chemicals, cotton production significantly negatively influences human health.
- High production costs.
- It requires a lot of space to develop and decomposes after extended use.
Hemp is more versatile than cotton, environmentally friendly, long-lasting, sustainable, and sustainable. In addition, it can replace many other materials that harm the environment. Hemp may not be pleasant, but it will inevitably get there over time and do much for the environment.