Hemp and flax are wonderful bast fibres, strong and environmentally friendly. This article examines the differences as well as their identical properties.
Cotton and synthetic fibers such as nylon and spandex are so readily available that many have forgotten about hemp and linen.
This material was used for thousands of years in the manufacture of clothing until the cotton plantations in the United States made it disappear. Advances in chemistry after World War II were the final nail in the coffin.
Recently, there has been something of a revival. Unusual uses of flax and hemp are being explored.
Although both have a long history and were popular long before the modern era, there are significant differences between them.
I make a comparison that covers every aspect thoroughly.
A brief history of flax and hemp
Linen is a wonderful textile material made from the flax plant.
Flax fibers are processed to provide the material for linen, which is used to make the luxurious and flexible white tablecloth and bed linen.
Linen suits were very popular in the early 20th century, but have lost popularity since the advent of polyester yarns.
do you know The earliest evidence of flax, found in southeastern Europe, dates back 30,000 years? It dates back to the Stone Age when Fred Flintstone lived!
Cannabis doesn’t have to be left out. Its history predates agriculture. Evidence of cannabis use has been found, in 5000 BC, in China.
It was also a very popular crop until it was replaced by cotton in the 20th century. Today, hemp is a raw material for making ropes and bags.
Hemp and flax are bark fibers
Bark fibers are obtained from the stem. More specifically, it is the bark or bark of the plant that provides the fiber.
On the other hand, cotton comes from the ball that grows around the seed of the cotton plant.
The fiber comes from the Cannabis sativa plant.
To be authentic, I must mention that cannabis is usually associated with the use of marijuana. However, what most people don’t realize is that it is a different type of cannabis plant.
Just as man’s best friend comes in all shapes and sizes (think dobermans and dachshunds), the cannabis plant can also contain varying amounts of THC – tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive substance that produces an altered mental state.
Industrial hemp contains a trace amount of THC and anyone would need to smoke a truckload to get high.
Its cultivation is legal in many countries, including the United States (which continued until the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill).
The material is made from the fibers of the Linum usitatissimum plant known as flax. Its seeds produce the oil under pressure known as linseed oil. The rod is used in the textile industry.
Linen is exceptionally strong and can absorb more liquid than its weight.
The word “linen” is generally used to refer not to materials but to textile products used in bedrooms and kitchens. The material has traditionally been used to make linens, towels and tablecloths.
A neatly folded linen handkerchief was once the standard part of any well-dressed gentleman’s attire.
What are the differences between flax and hemp?
- Differences in lab tests
Hemp and flax almost look alike. To the extent that It is difficult to tell them apart unless you look at them under a microscope.
A cross-sectional study reveals that while flax fibers have sharp ends, hemp fibers have dull ends. The lumens of the latter are wide and rarely circular.
- swelling tests
Although the fibers look alike, they have different cell structures. It is best to prove this with a swelling test.
When both are immersed in a dark blue solution of copper hydroxide in ammonia, the results are varied.
Linen swells quite quickly. The swelling is also uniform. Cannabinoids take longer to absorb the reagent solution.
- dyeing trials
Hemp contains a higher proportion of lignin and non-cellulosic materials. This part is the most receptive to dyes.
Adding cannabis to a phloroglucin solution gives it a dark pink color. When the experiment with cyanine is repeated, the color of the fibers changes to blue-green.
However, none of these dyes affect flax fibers. remain colorless.
- Torsion tests
The fibers spin in different directions when dried.
In this test, samples of both are soaked in distilled water for a few minutes. Then it is dried by placing it on a slightly warm plate.
When dry, flax turns to the right and hemp to the left.
- Differences in agriculture
Hemp is one of the easiest crops to grow. It is remarkably potent and the presence of THC means it is naturally resistant to most insects.
Hemp also has a higher yield per acre because the crop can be as dense as sugar cane. 5,000 pounds of hemp can be grown on one acre. Compared to that, 1,200 pounds of flax is pretty lean.
The roots of the cannabis plant are long and go deep into the ground. They are able to extract nutrients from deep within the soil.
As a result, topsoil is never depleted. This means hemp can be grown year after year. But flax can be grown for a maximum of five years before the soil is exhausted.
Flax cultivation is also not without its advantages. While hemp requires 160 pounds (80 kilograms) of nitrogen per hectare, flax needs half that.
It also needs half the amount of potassium and phosphorus.
Less expense for farmers makes it profitable.
- Biodiversity differences
a Study to find the friendliness of biodiversity of hemp turned out to be very high. The crop ranked fifth after alfalfa, lumber, oilseeds and hemp.
Flax did not perform well and placed ninth.
The study focused on several aspects by examining how culture affects natural justice.
Some of the factors that are easy to associate with everyday people are:
- monoculture control (millions of acres are used for wheat, rice and a few other things)
- If the culture preserves wildlife (jojoba is a great alternative to sperm whale oil)
- Water consumption (sugar cane and corn are very water-intensive crops)
- Use of pesticides (vines, apples and cherries are the worst culprits)
- Rooting effect (alfalfa and tomatoes have deep roots that maintain topsoil)
- Crops used to feed livestock (sorghum, oats, barley)
- Percentage of harvest used (a large proportion of vegetables are wasted during transport)
..and much more
Biodiversity is an important factor in maintaining the ecological balance. Without it, we are in danger.
Hemp and flax – fibers that have a lot in common
The lab shows how similar they are.
- Almost identical to 80% cellulose content.
- The fibers share the same density at around 1500 kg per cubic meter.
- They have the same flexibility.
- The same length of primary fibers (average from 5 to 55 mm). However, this may vary depending on the region in which they are grown.
- About the same moisture retention with hemp at 12% versus 13% with linen.
- Almost identical precision.
But even if we look outside the laboratory, they show quite similar characteristics.
- They can be used to create a soft and durable fabric.
- The material becomes softer with use. It can be folded and stacked easily.
- They breathe and get rid of sweat quickly.
- Being absorbent, it is easy to print using cheap technology.
- Both are biodegradable and compostable within a few years.
- They are excellent as clothing and keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Hemp edges outside linen
Both are equally good.
But there is first among equals, which is hemp.
Why am I saying this?
I’ve used a lot of hemp clothing over the years. Hemp jackets, T-shirts, shorts – you name it, I’ve worn them.
It’s much more comfortable.
The downside of linen is that it flakes easily. For anyone who travels a bit, it’s hard to find yourself in clothes that look like they’ve been through a paper shredder.
Since no one is bothered by the wrinkling of towels, linen fibers are the best for them. When it comes to clothing, hemp is clearly a more satisfying product.
For me, as a nature lover, the driving factor is reducing the use of cannabis-based insecticides.
Pesticides in food appear to be a critical factor in the development of cancer. We’ve had enough trouble without adding hazardous materials to our rivers.
The last point is that hemp can be used to make bioplastics. We are drowning in a sea of plastic.
Two million single-use plastic bags are used every minute (Discard after a few minutes).
Bioplastics are the future, and hemp is the best raw material for it. Hemp plastic is already used to make everything from bowls and pens to car parts.
The only thing holding him back is the complexity of the production process. In a few years, scientists are sure to solve this problem and make it readily available.
Linen is good but in my eyes hemp bases.
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