In my search for info on hemp, I've spoken to many interesting people. The most helpful was Chris Conrad, author of Hemp - Lifeline to the Future. The more I learn about hemp, the more hopeful I become of the potential of this wondrous plant. Cannabis Sativa, regarded as a divine plant by the Celts, is a gift the answer to many of our environmental and economic problems.
The newest and best product to be created from Cannabis Sativa Hemp, Isochanvre (TM), comes from France. Hemp, or 'Chanvre', is cultivated by French farmers under government contracts, as is tobacco. French hemp manufacturers also make ropes, bags, textiles, paints, heating and lubricating oils, pharmaceutical products, animal food and abrasives from the sap, which is rich in silica. Isochanvre is produced by Chenevotte Habitat, in René, France. It is sold as two different products: Isochanvre Insulation and Isochanvre Construction.
Isochanvre Construction is a product that thrills me. It is made from Chenevotte (hurds) cellulose obtained by removing the fibres mechanically without the use of water. The material, formerly considered a waste product, is now used in Isochanvre Construction. The best way to describe this product is to call it a non-toxic replacement for cement, lumber, sheetrock, plaster, insulation and acoustic tiles. Isochanvre uses natural lime and water for binding agents. It can be used as cement and poured directly onto soil. Unlike cement, it is very flexible and doesn't crack. The metal wire netting that is used to give cement suppleness is too rigid for Isochanvre and would cause it to crack. Cement is toxic, hard and breakable. Isochanvre worked with lime is supple, water-resistant, and seven times lighter than concrete. It can be poured directly onto an existing floor to raise the level, repair and insulate.
Moulded walls can be poured in framing. For a rough finish, wood forms can be used. For a finer surface, smooth or plastic casings should be used. After the forms are removed, the surface can be smoothed with a roller and a lime wash. The colour of Isochanvre is a creamy ochre (the colour of hemp). After it's completely dry, it can be painted, textured or wallpapered - but this will interfere with its acoustic qualities. It can be trowelled on in thicknesses less than 10cm. It seems to me that it would be an excellent product to finish straw-bale construction. Because of its strength and flexibility, Isochanvre is an ideal construction material for areas susceptible to earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. Isochanvre petrifies itself, the hemp fibres, bound with lime, become mineral over time, making your building stronger and more valuable with age. The product is non-flammable, fungicidal, antibacterial, waterproof and inedible by rodents and termites. Due to the high silica content of hemp and the ability of Isochanvre to retain the plant's qualities, it has the ability to store warmth and give it back after a while, making for very energy-efficient buildings.
So, here it is, a totally sustainable, non-toxic buidling alternative to wood and concrete. Unfortunately, in typical fashion, Hemp is dismissed as 'a hippie thing'. While our countries snooze, other nations are busily constructing hemp economies and enjoying high profits and improved environments. WAKE UP!
Please educate yourselves, your friends, and government officials. Remember, in order to enjoy the environmental and economic benefits of hemp, we need a legal distinction between hemp fibre and marijuana. Any cannabis sativa with less than 0.3% THC should be classified as hemp fibre and immediately legalized. Let's rid this country of its 'reefer madness' mentality.
"The best way to describe this product is to call it a non-toxic replacement for cement, lumber, sheetrock, plaster, insulation and acoustic tiles." "Because of its strength and flexibility, Isochanvre is an ideal construction material for areas susceptible to earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes."
"Isochanvre is non-flammable, fungicidal, antibacterial, waterproof and inedible by rodents and termites. Due to the high silica content of hemp and the ability of Isochanvre to retain the plant's qualities, it has the ability to store warmth and give it back after a while, making for very energy-efficient buildings."
* See Hemp Organisations, Building Materials, Hemp and Books, Hemp in the Alternative Directory. See also Hemp in the listing of Non-Timber Building Materials.