Hemp Oil: What is it?

by Alfred van der Heide
Hemp Oil: What is it? 1

The 1-Minute rundown:

Hemp Oil is an oil derived from the processing of the hemp plant. Hemp Oil mainly comes from two sources; Either the stem of the Hemp plant or from the seeds of the hemp plant (Hemp Seed Oil). Hemp Oil is gaining popularity in recent years due to their rediscovered healing abilities, as well as nutritional benefits. Additionally, societies attitude towards the Cannabis plant has become more tolerant leading to the recent gain in popularity, this can furthermore be seen with the recent legalization of Marijuana in Canada (2018), as well as the sweeping wave of legalization throughout the United States. Although Hemp and weed (which is used recreationally as a drug) both originate from the same species, they are different. That is to say, you would not smoke hemp for its psychoactive effects due to its inconsiderable amounts of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) chemical.

Hemp’s Historical Background

The hemp fibre has been utilized by civilization for thousands of years and is possibly one of the oldest materials that have been cultivated by humanity. Archaeologists have found evidence of hemp use in Japan dating back as far as 8,000 years ago. Not to mention, clear evidence of hemp’s everyday use throughout China’s Neolithic age (6,500 – 1,500 BC), Ancient Greece, as well as the rest of Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Romania, Ukraine). The hemp fibre was perfect for ropes, clothes, shoes, bags as well as paper, due to its strong and flexbile composition.

Hemp’s Historical Significance in the United States

The US used to be at the forefront of Hemp processing. George Washington himself was a fan of the plant and pressured the people around him to cultivate the practical plant. President Washington was also known for growing the plant himself. It is believed that George Washington not only bred the plant for the fibres, but even sampled some of his strains in an attempt to find a solution to his toothache. Thomas Jefferson was not to mention also a proponent of the hemp plant.

The hemp plant could be utilized for many reason’s, making it be a very lucrious cash crop. Slaves would often find themselves working on hemp fields. Kentucky’s economy in particular was very tied to the production of hemp.

Hemp Oil: What is it? 2
A stamp signifying the Marihuana tax act of 1937

1937 marked the decline of hemp production in the United States, as the Marihuana Tax Act was passed which lead to a tax being levied on anyone doing business in hemp. The 1937 Marihuana Tax Act is credited for destroying the hemp industry and is believed to be propelled solely for the rise of similar adjacent industries in an attempt at greater profits. Despite this, hemp played a large lasting role throughout World War II, ensuring that US soldiers were always well equipped with proper uniforms. Largely thanks to Kentucky’s large hemp fields.

Industrial hemp cultivation in Northern America has been non-existant for years thanks to the public’s disdain for the Marijuana drug.

Hemp Oil: What is it? 3
Anti-Marijuana poster used to convince the public of marijuana’s harm.

Even though hemp played a significant role throughout US history as a source of revenue and materials, in addition to its support of the troops it has been misconstrued and distorted by authorative entities as a dangerous drug leading to its unjust eradication as a useful material.

What is Hemp:

Hemp is a strain of cannabis, namely the cannabis sativa species. Hemp is cultivated for its natural fibres mainly but also for its nutritional benefits and its healthy oils. Hemp compared to other cannabis plants has a very low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), often at least below 0.3%, whereas other strains of cannabis can have concentrations of THC of over 20.0%. The cannabis plant as a family might look very similar to each other, but chemically the different strains plant’s compositions can vary enormously, all depending on it’s intended use.

What is Hemp Oil, and how is it Created?

As previously mentioned Hemp oil is obtained either from breaking down the stem of the hemp plant, or from cold pressing the hemp plants seed.

To create hemp seed oil the first thing that needs to happen is that the hemp seeds are masticated (cold-pressed). This ensures that the seeds break apart and certifies the seperation of the shell fibres from the cells, allowing the oils to be extracted without the destruction of nutrients or enzymes. As you would expect, cold pressing does not require any heat. By not using any heat it safeguards the enzymes and the nutrients from being damaged.

After the hemp seeds have been cold pressed the oil still needs to be refined. Unrefined hemp seed oil is characterised by its light nutty flavour and its green tint. The darker the green tint the more that the oil will taste like grass.

Through filtration the hemp seed becomes refined. One can expect to obtain about 50% of the weight of a hemp seed as an oil during the refinery. Once the oil is refined it will usually lose its green tint and become transparent or slightly yellow.

Hemp seed oil is used primarily throughout health and dietary products, such as lotions, soaps, detergents, and oils. *Caution: Do not use hemp oil to fry with, it’s low smoking point of 166 °C (330 °F) makes it unsuitable.

It is not uncommon for hemp seed oil to be utilized as a lubricant, fuel ( bio-diesel), or paint, however.

Hemp Seed Quick Nutritional Rundown

  • 7.0% Saturated Fatty Acids
  • 9.0% Monounsaturated Fatty Acids/ Oleic Acids
  • 82.0% Total Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids – (Of which 22.0% linolenic Acid, 54.0% Linoleic Acid)
  • 76% as essential fatty acids
  • 3:1 of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Is Hemp Legal?

Legality of Hemp Oil

Hemp seed oil is in general legal worldwide, but its legality varies heavily between each country. 

Governments are only interested in the THC content of the hemp plant, through a good refining process up to 99.9% of THC can be removed from the oil. THC quantity in hemp oil is measured in ‘parts per million’ or PPM. (Denoted as μg).

  • Most European countries allow up to 5 PPM, but some have no upper limit.
  • Canada allows up to 10 PPM.
  • Hemp seed oil is most likely legal, as it does not make you ‘high’ or ‘stoned’ but it is best to research your local area.

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2 comments

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no credit check loans anderson sc January 1, 2019 - 4:39 am

Can I link your post on Facebook? It’s very imformative!

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Alfred van der Heide
Alfred van der Heide January 1, 2019 - 11:09 am

Of course!

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