63 Hemp Paper Facts: Here's Everything You Wanted To Know

Akinwalere Olaleye
Jan 25, 2024 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Mar 31, 2022
Learn interesting hemp paper facts, here.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 11.5 Min

Paper made from the pulp of industrial quality hemp is better known as hemp paper.

This paper is most often used to make currency notes and cigarette paper. It is resistant to tearing and yellowing and is extremely strong.

Increased demand for paper and other wood-based products has led to increased deforestation. Using an alternative such as hemp paper can help to reduce this demand.

Growing awareness and concern about issues such as climate change and global warming that affect our planet has led people to look for items and products that are sustainable. Among these alternatives, hemp and hemp paper are products that are worth considering. Read on to learn more.

Environmental Advantages And Disadvantages

There are many environmental advantages associated with hemp. Hemp is a great alternative to forest-wood paper, in terms of environmental impact. It causes no substantial environmental damage in terms of deforestation or carbon emission.

A hemp seed requires little or no water to grow and most often rainfall is sufficient for it.

Hemp seeds do not significantly deplete the soil of nutrients and can be grown in the same area for a long period of time.

Hemp does not require the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals as it is not prone to insect or pest infestations.

Fertilizers are also not required to grow this plant.

Hemp has a cellulose level of more than three times that of wood pulp, making it an excellent raw material for paper.

The amount of toxic chemicals required to process hemp into paper is significantly less than for wood, making it a good option for the environment.

Making paper from wood can result in the formation of about 2,000 chlorinated organic compounds. These are not seen when the paper is produced from hemp.

Hydrogen peroxide can be used to bleach hemp when making paper, instead of chlorine, which is more environmentally friendly.

Hemp is made up of long fibers which allow paper made from it to be recycled up to seven times. Wood-based papers can be recycled three times.

Paper made from hemp is acid-free and can last for up to 1500 years. Wood paper lasts about 25-100 years.

Hemp plants grow fast and can be harvested about 120 days after hemp seeds are planted. While trees take many years to grow.

Hemp seeds let down long roots that go deep down into the soil. These roots can hold the soil tightly and prevent soil erosion.

The long roots of hemp can absorb and remove harmful toxins from the soil.

As hemp plants prevent soil erosion they also help to reduce water pollution caused due to soil run-off.

The hemp plant is very resilient and can be grown in a variety of environmental condition and in many places around the world.

To make paper, a substance known as lignin needs to be removed from the vegetative matter whether it is wood or hemp. However, wood has 35% of this substance whereas hemp has only 5-24%.

More hemp plants can be grown in an area as they are planted close together to increase the length of the hemp fibers.

Cutting trees to make paper destroys the homes and habitats of animals and birds that live in or around them. Using hemp to make paper is a more sustainable option.

Hemp toilet paper is a sustainable and environment-friendly alternative to regular toilet paper.

The bast fiber from the outside of the hemp stalks is used to make high-quality strong paper. Therefore, the rest of the hemp plant can be mixed with the soil as a type of fertilizer.

As paper has traditionally always been manufactured from wood, it is cheaper than hemp. However, with the demand for paper rising every day an alternative is fast becoming a necessity.

One of the challenges of making paper from hemp is that only the stalk or stem is used and the other parts are most often wasted.

History Of Hemp Paper

Here is a brief hemp history that helps to shed light on how this plant is fast becoming important for paper mills and the paper industry.

In the eighth century BCE, hemp paper was used for wrapping and padding in China.

Paper made from hemp dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE) in China has been found. This paper was made using water, hemp rags, and mulberry.

The technique of making paper from hemp was perfected by Cai Lun an official in the court during the Western Han Dynasty.

In the sixth century CE, Hemp paper production arrived in Korea.

In the 700s CE, the first paper mills that produced paper from hemp were set up in China and the Middle East.

In the 13th century, hemp paper arrived in Europe from the Middle East.

In the 14th century, hemp paper was used in Germany for the first time.

In the 16th century, hemp paper was used to make maps and logs because of its durability.

In 1774, the most common item that was used to produce paper before industrialization was recycled fibers. These were from textiles and were called rags. They were mostly of hemp and cotton. In 1774 Justus Claproth, a German jurist discovered the process of removing ink from used paper. This process came to be called deinking and paper started being recycled.

In 1776, The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were written on hemp paper. The first flag of America was also made on hemp.

In the 18th century, in the United States growing hemp was mandatory and a person could be jailed in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Connecticut for not growing Indian hemp.

In 1818 the Goznak paper mill which produced paper from hemp opened in Saint Petersburg, Russia. This paper was used to make stamped paper, postal stamps, watermarked paper, and banknotes.

In 1843, the process to make paper from wood pulp was discovered and it became the chief source of paper production.

In the 19th century, wood was used as an alternative to making paper as it was cheaper.

In the 1850s there were about 8400 hemp plantations in the United States.

In 1916, Jason L. Merrill and Lyster Hoxie Dewey, scientists with the United States Department of Agriculture made paper from hemp.

In 1937, the popularity of wood-based paper began to increase and with the Marihuana Tax Act, the cultivation of hemp became illegal in the US.

In 1994, Hemp grown in France was used to make currency and Indian hemp paper, a high-quality speciality paper that is used for making the Bible.

Did you know George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both hemp farmers? Benjamin Franklin also owned a hemp paper mill.

Did you know the popular novels of Mark Twain were printed on hemp paper? Also, early school books in the United States were printed on hemp paper.

Hemp is commonly used to make rope.

The Future Of Hemp Paper

With so many environmental advantages, an awareness of paper and other products made from hemp is necessary. Here are a few interesting facts about the future of hemp paper.

Currently, the cost of producing paper from hemp is four times that of paper from wood.

However, once initial investments to develop production are made, hemp paper production would be cheaper.

Due to the current cost of production, hemp paper is not used in mass applications such as for writing or printing.

Harvesting hemp and processing it are all done by hand, this can help to create jobs.

The United States has the perfect climate for growing hemp.

Hemp is among one of the strongest natural fibers.

Hemp can be used to make all types of paper including tissue paper, toilet paper, and cardboard.

A type of tissue paper that can be made from hemp hurds or fibers is toilet paper. The first hemp toilet paper was invented in 1857 by Joseph Gayetty.

According to a report published by Big Think in March 2020, a person would flush about 384 trees as toilet paper. Hemp toilet paper could be a much more sustainable solution to this.

The fibers in the stem of the hemp plant are more flexible and finer than wood, therefore, they do not need to be processed as much and can be easily converted to tissue or toilet paper.

Hemp toilet paper is very absorbent and the plant has many antibacterial properties that make it very useful in the production of this type of paper.

Also, hemp toilet paper is stronger and softer than other products.

Hemp can help to meet the demand in packaging materials such as cardboard.

The most important product made from hemp in Europe is paper, even though it is used to make other items such as textiles.

Hemp is widely used to make paper for cigarettes in Europe, especially in Spain and the United Kingdom.

Hemp production would help to reduce deforestation and preserve biodiversity. This is especially important now with the issues of biodiversity loss and climate change.

Paper made from hemp pulp is naturally acid-free and does not yellow with age. It can also be folded many times without tearing. Did you know that most of the old and ancient documents you see in museums are written on hemp paper?

In addition to the hemp stalks being used to make paper, all parts of this incredible plant can be used to manufacture and produce various other items.

Hemp seeds are extremely nutritious and can be consumed. The hemp seed can also be pressed to produce hemp oil.

Hemp can be used to make a number of items including parachutes.

Did you know in 1941, a car was made using hemp plastic which ran on hemp oil. The car was developed by Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company?


What are the benefits of hemp paper?

Some of the benefits of hemp paper are that it does not become yellow or discolored with age and is resistant to tearing. Tissue and toilet paper made from hemp are very absorbent.

Is hemp paper better?

Hemp can be used to make many different types of paper. Cardboard made from hemp will be as strong and durable as that made from wood and can be used for packaging. Toilet paper and tissues made from hemp are very absorbent and are also bio-degradable.

Is hemp paper better for the environment?

Yes, paper made from hemp is better for the environment as it reduces the cutting of trees which causes deforestation. It can help to ensure that the natural habitat of animals is not destroyed. To make paper from hemp, toxic and harmful chemicals such as pesticides, bleach and chlorine are not required. This helps to prevent water pollution. Hemp paper can also be recycled seven times more than paper made from wood.

How hard is it to make paper out of hemp?

Currently, it is quite difficult to make paper out of hemp as the infrastructure and the machinery required are not available in paper mills. However, with an initial investment to purchase the right equipment paper can be easily made from hemp.

What are some of the characteristics of hemp fiber paper?

A few of the characteristics of hemp paper are that it does not decompose or change color with age, is strong and resistant to tearing, and can therefore be folded numerous times. Paper made from hemp can also be recycled more times than wood-based paper which makes it good for the environment.

How to grow hemp for paper?

To grow hemp for paper, warm weather and well-drained soil are important. Although these plants are quite hardy and can grow in most climatic and soil conditions, extreme weather such as desert-like conditions and mountainous regions are not suitable. This plant does not need much water to grow, however, the seedlings or young plants would need to be watered for the first six weeks. Also, transplanting is generally not required for these plants and the seeds can be sown directly into the soil where required.

What is the process to make hemp paper?

Here are a few simple and easy steps to make hemp paper at home. Put the hemp fibers in a large pot and cover it with water. Let the fibers soak overnight. The next day add soda ash to the pot and mix till the ash is well blended. By following the instructions on the container you will know how much soda ash to add. Heat this mixture for four hours.

After it has cooled, strain the mix to remove the ash and rinse the hemp with clean water. Then use a beater to beat the fiber into a pulp. This should take about two hours. Take a large container and half fill it with water. Add the pulp to make a slurry. Then on a large wood board place wet blotting paper and then felt. You can use a deckle or a removable frame to hold it all together. Dip the board into the container with the pulp slurry and lift it out.

Tilt the board slowly and carefully from side to side to remove the excess water. Dry the pulp by removing it from the deckle and mold. Put a cotton interfacing, followed by a wet fabric sheet, and then the wood board on the wet pulp. Press this for eight to nine minutes. Do the same thing on the other side of the pulp. You can do this for all the pulp and for as much paper you want to make. Then place bricks on top for 1-2 days and allow it to dry. After that separate the layers and your paper is ready. This paper can be used for journals, invitation cards, and more.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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