Hemp VS Cotton: an Alternative Sustainable Material
As we near the end of a decade, more effort is being made than ever to take care of our planet in order to reduce the amount of pollution that we produce, including toxic residues which can be incredibly harmful for the planets’ ecosystem and biodiversity. We’re pushing harder than ever to find ecofriendly alternatives for obtaining fibers, oils and other materials used in construction; that’s why today we’re going to talk about Hemp VS Cotton.
It seems that right now we’re reliving a similar process to what happened at the start of the 20th century; the hemp industry was beginning to boom but was suddenly put to a stop by large cotton manufacturers and companies; hemp was thrown into the same category as cannabis and made illegal. What’s happening today is slightly different, although cotton is still one of the most important natural fibers economically speaking in many different countries, which means that hemp still has a way to go.
More motivation is needed to incentivize industrial hemp cultivation, unless we want large cotton manufacturers to keep overshadowing the amazing benefits of natural hemp. We’ve decided to compare how cotton and hemp are grown, alongside the various benefits and uses that each material has, and we managed to get some surprising results.
Hemps VS Cotton | COTTON
Everyone knows what cotton is and we’re willing to bet that almost everyone has various items of cotton clothing, or clothing with cotton blends. However, not many people know that cotton also has dietary benefits and can be used medicinally, as well as in cosmetics, plastics and car wheels – which is just a sample of a very long list.
However, cotton picking has an incredibly dark history. Even now, underage kids are put to work in Africa, where they are usually taken out of school to work in the fields. Small villages are put to work, usually by the hand of the field owner, who is generally a wealthy and powerful person.
Hemp VS Cotton | HEMP
Hemp has been grown and used for many different things for over 5000 years now, and only now is it coming back into the limelight. Its amazing properties make it absolutely ideal for making various different ecofriendly products. Hemp, its seeds and its fiber have been used for thousands of years until the start of the 20thcentury, when cannabis was made illegal in the United States – this new law did not distinguish between psychoactive cannabis and hemp.
However, recently hemp cultivation has been growing around the world at a slow, steady pace that’s still nowhere near cotton.
Cotton has plenty of properties that make it great for making a myriad of different products and materials. This is due to the high quality and soft texture of cotton flowers, which makes it easy to work with. Cotton is also highly insulating, which makes it perfect for textile production. On the other hand, it’s also an incredibly strong material, which means that cotton fibers can easily be treated chemically without damaging their structure. This allows cotton to be dyed and/or whitened.
It’s an incredibly strong material that’s easy to handle and manipulate, and it doesn’t need any sort of extra treatment to increase durability or softness. These are just some of the reasons why this natural fiber is one of the most-grown on the planet.
Although it’s the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind, cotton isn’t used just for the textile industry; many different products can be used using cotton and elements that can be extracted from it:
- Pharmaceutical products
- Air filters
- Money paper
Hemp fibers have been used for centuries now for obvious reasons; this is an incredibly strong material, as well as light and flexible – it was used extensively in making Christopher Columbus’ fleet, which can give you an idea of exactly how strong it is. Plus, it’s capable of stabilizing body heat during the winter and allows the skin to breathe during the summer, making it one of the best materials around for making durable clothing.
Another impressive quality is that it’s incredibly good at filtering out UV rays without deteriorating over long amounts of time. One drawback when compared to cotton is that it isn’t that soft after being processed for textile production, although hemp fabric can be treated to give them a similar texture to cotton.
Hemp was first used for creating fabric and ropes/rigging, although its flowers and roots were also used in different spiritual rituals for health problems. Since then, however, we have discovered many other uses:
- One of the most nutritional oils on the planet
- Hemp seeds are highly nutritional
- Construction material
- Medicinal CBD products
- Insulating materials
- Car parts
- Can clean and remove pollution from land and soil
This list may look short but it could go on for days if we wanted; hemp as a never-ending list of uses and benefits, which is why it’s so hard to believe that it isn’t being taken advantage of on a larger scale, especially regarding the ongoing debate between hemp VS cotton.
Hemps VS Cotton | Main Cotton Manufacturers
There are over one hundred countries that dedicate a large amount of their crop space to growing cotton, which is mostly due to the grants awarded for growing cotton. However, there are four countries that are currently leading the cotton race.
Cotton cultivation is still growing all around the world, and the US is even attempting to increase their cotton production by 5% yearly. This also implements new jobs regarding picking it and then manipulating it, alongside the previously mentioned negative side effects, which is slightly counteractive. It’s thought that international cotton commercialization is set to increase quite a lot over the next few years.
Hemps VS Cotton | Main Hemp Manufacturers
The hemp industry is growing, albeit incredibly slowly but sturdy, with demands increasing and even doubling when compared to previous years. However, grants are not given for hemp cultivation and it still doesn’t have a very clear legislation in every country which means that larger companies are hesitant to invest in hemp. The four main hemp-producing countries are:
Cotton isn’t actually that easy to grow, as it doesn’t do too well with extreme temperatures and climates, which can make it much easier for insects and fungi to infest the plan. This requires potent, toxic insecticides to remedy. In order to fix this, they have created different types of genetically modified cotton which proved to be worse than expected.
- Cotton can grow between one to three meters, depending on the strain grown.
- The entire process takes 150 to 180 days.
- It’s a delicate plant that needs a lot of care.
- Its seeds have quite a low germination rate.
- In order to produce one kilogram of cotton, you need to use 5000-10,000L of water.
- It’s vulnerable to insects.
- Growing cotton pollutes the land.
Hemp, on the other hand, is incredibly easy to grow, especially if you match the right strain to the climate that it’s going to be grown in. Some of the best things about growing hemp are the fact that it does incredibly when it comes to insect infestations, it stops weeds from growing and it also improves the land in which it’s grown thanks to the way that its roots grow. It also needs a lot less water than cotton to produce the same amounts of fiber. Plus, hemp fields are capable of eliminating incredibly large amounts of Co2 from the atmosphere. Thanks to the fact that it’s much more resistant to insect infestations, a lot less insecticides and pesticides are needed, which reduces contamination considerably.
- Hemp can grow between one and five meters, depending on the strain grown.
- The entire process takes 120 to 180 days.
- These plants are super sturdy and can deal with lots of issues that cotton simply can’t.
- Hemp doesn’t need excessive care.
- Hemp seeds have a high germination rate.
- You can grow a full hemp crop 10 times using the same soil
- No weeds means that you can save money you’d have spent getting rid of them.
- It grows quite fast.
- It can grow in pretty much any climate.
- Hemp can deal with short periods of drought.
- It needs to be fed a certain amount to offer good results.
- The leaves that fall off the plants actually re-establishes part of the potassium taken from the soil.
- It needs to be watered between 1,500 and 3,000 m3/h every 15 days.
Hemps VS Cotton | Cottonseed oil medicinal properties
Regardless of the negative details regarding growing cotton, it also has a certain amount of medicinal properties when oil is made from the seeds. However, other types of oils are recommended way before oil from cottonseeds.
- Can treat headaches
- May reduce fever
- Can treat diarrhea
- Can treat excessive gas
- Calms hemorrhoids
- Can help cure cuts
- Increases breast milk production
- Can be used against hepatitis
Cottonseed oil dietary properties
Oil quality is generally measured by the amount of nutrients that each individual essential oil contains, although there are other important factors such as lipids, which producer certain effects in the human body that are worth nothing. In this case, we’re going to analyze the amount of saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and monounsaturated fatty acids that can be found in cottonseed oil. (SFA, PUFA & MUFA)
- Saturated fats: 27%
- Monounsaturated fats: 18%
- Polyunsaturated fats: 55%
Fatty acids in cottonseed oil
- Palmitic acid
- Myristic acid
- Palmitoleic acid
- Stearic acid
- Oleic acid
- Linoleic acid
Cottonseed oil contains the right properties for human ingestion thanks to its large amount of unsaturated fats as well as Vitamin E and its super low cholesterol percentage. However, it’s been found that cotton seeds develop an ingredient called gossypol, which is thought to be bad for human health, which is why this type of oil is not recommended for human consumption until its toxicity can be defined.
Hemps VS Cotton | Hemp seed oil medicinal properties
Hemp seed oil comes from a plant that contains an incredibly large amount of fatty acids, as well as a an ideal amount of Omega 3 and 6 – this means that it is great for human consumption, plus it can be used for many medicinal things such as healing damaged skin, preventing heart disease, and controlling cholesterol. It is known as one of the best oils for preventing cardiovascular illnesses and for keeping cholesterol under control, which are two of the main takeaways when talking about Hemp VS Cotton.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Can help prevent cancer
- Hydrating properties
- Detoxing properties
- Can calm skin irritations
- Improve nail appearance
- Improves the immune system
- Can protect from UV rays
- Speeds up cut healing
- Prevents stretch marks
Hemp seed oil dietary properties
Like we mentioned previously when talking about cottonseed, the three most important percentages that you need to know are SFA, PUFA & MUFA – this allows us to know if this product can be ingested or not. You can easily see that cottonseed oil produces more saturated fats than hemp oil – the less saturated fats, the more likely that it can be consumed by humans in a healthy manner.
- Saturated fats: 5.5%
- Monounsaturated fats: 12%
- Polyunsaturated fats: 82%
Fatty acids in hemp seed oil:
- Palmitic acid
- Stearic acid
- Stearidonic acid
- Arachidic acid
- Palmitoleic acid
- Oleic acid
- Linoleic acid
- Alpha linoleic acid
- Gamma linoleic acid
Keep in mind that saturated fats are bad because they increase bad cholesterol, whereas polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. For any type of oil to be suitable and healthy for consumption, you want it to have high amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as hempseed oil.
Hemp VS Cotton | Results
If you just read this entire post, you’ll probably be aware that we don’t really need to spoon feed you the results, right? Both of these plants have some decent properties, although one of them is very clearly better for society, humanity and people in general. It’s pretty clear that hemp has certain advantages over cotton. In fact, we’re quite astonished that there is still such a large disparity when it comes to Hemp VS Cotton.
If every last cotton field was replaced with hemp, we’re pretty sure that Mother Earth would be incredibly happy with us and so would the future generations down the road that are going to have to deal with the results of our ambition and ignorance as a human race.