SOURCE:  Tyrell R. Towle, PhD, BT ingenuity

Hempcrete construction

Example of hempcrete used in construction

When it comes to hemp, much attention goes to the fiber that can be harvested and its many uses (including cordage and textiles).  However, the fiber constitutes only a small portion of the plant.  It covers the woody inner core in a thin, but tough, layer.  The woody inner core is known as the “hemp hurds”, and while it is useless for making materials that require long, strong fibers, it has many of its own applications.

You have likely heard of the material called “hempcrete”, touted for its strength and low environmental impact.  Hemp hurds can be used for the hemp portion of the recipe.  Since the outer fiber is so valuable as a textile, and about 70 % of a hemp plant is composed of the hurd, it makes sense to prefer to use hemp hurds for this application.

Hemp hurds can be used in other applications such as bioethanol production, mulching, and animal bedding.  Hemp hurds can even be used as an easy to grow and renewable source of residential heating by forming them into pellets that are currently made out of trees.  Far from being a useless by-product of hemp fiber production, hemp hurds are an important part of this emerging industry.