Hemp Building Materials

Today many people still think narrowly about the uses of hemp. Still associating it as a source for the popular drug known as marijuana. However, the plant itself has many other uses in many industries and human activities.

One of the most recent and modern applications is in building. It is quite similar to concrete but with a tremendously lower carbon footprint. It incorporates the hurds or shiv of this cannabis plant, which are the inside material from the hemp stalks, left over after removing the fibrous outer layer. They are mixed with other materials, usually water and a lime based binder.


Similar to when an alloy is made, iron itself is strong, but prone to oxidation, corrosion and is much weaker than steel. However, if you add some carbon to the molten iron, it becomes much stronger and durable and becomes steel.

Something similar is done with the hemp shiv (hurd), when mixed with water and lime, you get a new and improved and much more durable building material, known as Hempcrete. Unlike concrete, this construction material when used with the lime binder is naturally self-healing. That means when rainwater leaks into any cracks in this material it will  partially dissolve the calcium carbonate which will then fill in the crack.


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These fibers provide certain added benefits; they have exceptional insulating properties and water shedding characteristics and are very breathable. In practical terms, this means that the hempcrete is excellent at regulating the structures internal climate and also provides the resident with cleaner air within they’re home or building. Also using this building material results in a mold, termite and dry rot free structure.

Hempcrete also has a very low density; it is approximately 85% less dense than concrete, so it can be added to the structure, and it will not affect the final weight drastically. And it is also not prone to slumping like concrete. So in turn you can use lighter weight forms when building. It also creates a negative carbon footprint especially when used in conjunction with lime even after the structure is built it will still keep sucking carbon out of the environment.  Until the building is completely petrified.


There are some additional factors someone using hempcrete to build with must take into account. First of all, this mixture will not be rigid enough to support the entire structure, so, it must be used together in conjunction with a frame. An internal structure made of some other building material, to help support it. Such a frame is usually composed of wood or metal beams (wood is commonly used if the structure in question is a house or smallish building).


by with 1 comment.


  • Scotty, Scotts Contracting says:

    When Hempcrete is used in conjunction with Pole Barn construction the building costs go down! I’m attempting to get the Post Frame Advantage organization involved in this type of construction that has already been proven by HT in EU. This new building technique is only new to the USA. We have a lot of catching up to do!

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