Compared to its wood pulp counterpart, paper from hemp fibers resists decomposition and does not yellow or brown with age.
It is also one of the strongest natural fibers in the world, one of the reasons for its longevity and durability.
Hemp paper can be recycled up to 8 times, compared to just 3 times for paper made from wood pulp – not that recycling paper from hemp pulp would be necessary considering its veritable sustainability.
Hemp has a much faster crop yield – it takes about 4 months for hemp stalks to reach maturity, while trees can take between 20 to 80 years. Not only does it grow at a faster rate, but hemp also contains a lot more cellulose This quick return means that paper can be produced at a faster rate if hemp were used instead of trees.
Hemp pulp does not require bleaching or as many chemicals as wood-pulp. Using hemp instead of trees could dramatically decrease the number of toxins and chemicals polluting the earths water supply.
Hemp paper means paper varieties consisting exclusively or to a large extent from pulp obtained from fibers of industrial hemp. The products are mainly specialty papers such as cigarette paper, banknotes and technical filter papers. Compared to wood pulp, hemp pulp offers a four to five times longer fibre, a significantly lower lignin fraction as well as a higher tear resistance and tensile strength. Because the paper industry's processes have been optimized for wood as the feedstock, production costs currently are much higher than for paper from wood.
The first identified coarse paper, made from hemp, dates to the early Western Han Dynasty, 200 years before the nominal invention of papermaking by Cai Lun, who improved and standardized paper production using a range of inexpensive materials, including hemp ends, around 2000 years ago. Recycled hemp clothing, rags, and fishing nets were used as inputs for paper production. By the sixth century AD, the papermaking process spread to Korea, where cannabis had been used previously for thousands of years, and Japan, where cannabis had been used for 10,000 years.
Early Western use
Hemp paper only reached Europe in the 13th century via the Middle East. In Germany it was used for the first time in the 14th century. It was not until the 19th century that methods were established for the production of paper from wood pulp, which were cheaper than the hemp paper production and, above all, repressed in the area of writing and printing papers. Notably, the first copies of the Bible were made of hemp paper.
The Saint Petersburg, Russia, paper mill of Goznak opened in 1818. It used hemp as its main input material. Paper from the mill was used in the printing of "bank notes, stamped paper, credit bills, postal stamps, bonds, stocks, and other watermarked paper
In 1916, U.S. Department of Agriculture chief scientists Lyster Hoxie Dewey and Jason L. Merrill created paper made from hemp pulp and concluded that paper from hemp hurds was "favorable in comparison with those used with pulp wood. The chemical composition of hemp hurds is similar to that of wood, making hemp a good choice as a raw material for manufacturing paper. A later book about hemp and other fibers by the same L.H. Dewey(1943) has no words about hemp as a raw material for the production of paper. Dried hemp has about 57% cellulose (the principal ingredient in paper), compared to about 40-50% in wood. Hemp also has the advantage of a lower lignin content: hemp contains only 5-24% lignin against the 20-35% found in wood. This lignin must be removed chemically and wood requires more use of chemicals in the process. The actual production of hemp fiber in the U.S continued to decline until 1933 to around 500 tons/year. Between 1934 and 1935, the cultivation of hemp began to increase, but still at a very low level and with no significant increase of paper from hemp.
After the Second World War, industrial hemp was only grown on micro-plots. Although the industrial hemp bred in the 1950s and 1960s is harmless because of the almost complete absence of THC, cultivation has been banned in many countries in recent decades. In Germany, growing hemp was completely prohibited between 1982 and 1995 by the Betäubungsmittelgesetz (Narcotics Act, the national controlled-substances law) in order to prevent the illegal use of cannabis as a narcotic. Especially in France, the varieties of hemp used for the manufacture of cigarette paper were still in use and grown. As of 1994, most of the French hemp crop was used to make rolling paper, currency, and high quality paper for Bibles
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