Hemp versus Linen - Round 1
Hemp and linen are two natural fibers, both with long histories and a super wide variety of uses. How much do you really know about them? If it came down to choosing, would you know what to choose, depending on your needs and expectations? If you're answer is "mmm, quite" you're in the right place. Let's start with
Both come from plants that have been used for centuries to manufacture fabrics for clothing, bedding, and more. Each has significant benefits compared with synthetic fibers such as polyester.
Although there are many similarities between hemp and linen, there are some pretty significant differences, too. In our head-to-head comparison, we will look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of hemp and linen. We will analyze both in terms of cultivation, processing, and the end products of these two versatile plants.
So, if you are wondering whether to choose hemp or linen for your next fabric purchase, here’s what you need to know first.
Hemp fibers come from a specific variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, sometimes referred to as industrial hemp. Although it is closely related to marijuana, hemp has very low levels of the intoxicating cannabinoid THC. Therefore, unlike other varieties of the plant, hemp does not produce any psychoactive high.The historical evidence suggests that hemp has been used for as long as 10,000 years. People cultivated hemp for its strong fibers, which are ideal for making cloth, rope, fishing nets, and even paper. However, hemp cultivation in the United States ceased for the last few decades. This was partly due to the rise of synthetic textiles like polyester and nylon, as well as cotton.
On the other hand, linen has never faced such adversity. This fiber comes from the innocent flax plant (Linum usitatissimum), which is perhaps best known for its nutritious seeds. Like hemp, flax has been grown and used for thousands of years, and it has many similar uses. It was the primary fiber used during the Middle Ages and Renaissance and was even used to wrap mummies in ancient Egypt. Finer grades of linen can be woven into a smooth and comfortable fabric, while coarser grades are suitable for making canvas and twine. Like hemp, this is an adaptable plant with many different uses.
Similarities between Hemp and Linen
- Both are tough fabrics that soften with repeated use and washing
- Both hemp and linen are natural and breathable
- Both fabrics are highly absorbent
- Both hemp and linen have antibacterial properties
- Both have hollow fibers that make them effective insulators
- Both fabrics are biodegradable
In addition to this, both hemp and linen are extremely strong and durable. However, hemp is reported to be up to eight times stronger and has the longest shelf-life of any natural textile. It is resistant to mildew, mold, pests such as moths, and even ultraviolet light.
So when you buy a product made from hemp, it will last a long time!
Differences between Hemp and Linen
1. When looking at hemp and linen up close, you can see minute differences in the shape of the fibers and the way they behave. While hemp fibers have a polygon-shaped cross-section with rounded edges, linen fibers have five to seven peaks with sharp edges.
2.The fibers of the two plants are also different colors. Hemp ranges from yellow or gray to dark brown, while linen is much paler. However, due to the absorbency of both fibers, they can easily be dyed to any color a manufacturer should choose.
3. Another significant difference between hemp and linen is the length of the fibers. Hemp fibers range between four and seven feet in length (3m), whereas linen fibers are usually less than half as long (40 - 50cm).
4. Growing hemp improves the soil and clears weeds away, making it a favourite for crop rotation by farmers around the world. Even better, hemp doesn’t exhaust the soil, so it can be replanted on the same land for years. Now let’s compare that to linen. First, you should know that linen is derived from flax. Flax depletes the soil, so it can only be cultivated from the same land for about five years before needing to be rotated.
5. Unlike flax, hemp is a superstar at growing without the use of pesticides or herbicides because it’s naturally to those substances. It’s much harder to produce a high yield of flax without herbicides because weeds develop amongst flax crops.