Hemp Paper-Pulp

Every acre of hemp grown for paper or particle board saves four acres of trees. Hemp paper is more recyclable than tree paper, and its production does not require chlorine bleach or cause dioxin pollution.

The Hemp Paper Room is about much more than I ever expected. From the first discovery of writing or drawing, people have looked for materials on which to write or draw. Walls of caves, bones, bamboo strips, silk, clay tablets, wood, metals, and papyrus (laminated grass material) were written on for thousands of years prior to the invention of papermaking. True paper involves the use of pulped material in the manufacture of products.

Green Field Paper Company – Handmade Paper

FirstMusePaperWhen I first learned about hemp for paper, I didn’t really know what pulped material looked like so my first attempt was much more like felt than paper. In fact, hemp felts nicely.

HpaperArrayHemp Museum samples of hemp paper: A framed early sheet of paper by the curator, a pack of hemp envelopes, a vacuum cleaner bag from China, front, a sample of felted hemp.
Photo: Bill Bridges

HboxesCuratorSome of the first boxes made by the Curator.
Photo: Bill Bridges


HanMadHpaperI went to a Fiber Fair at the Mateel Center in Garberville and sat in on a class in papermaking with John Stahl. It was there that I saw and touched the first piece of 100% hemp paper, made by school kids! I bought some of their paper for the museum.
John Stahl, paper at left, had a pulping machine, but I didn’t and so discovered that a blender could do the job if the hemp was boiled for eight hours and a very small amount blended at once.

PLTWaterWheelWilliam Rittenhouse established the first paper mill in British America, near Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1690.
Hemp Museum plate showing a water wheel powered mill.

OldMillIn early North America, in 1810, 185 paper mills were powered by water wheels for the pulping of rags (hemp) for paper.
Framed Hemp Museum print, “The Old Mill.”



Dried hemp stalks.
Photo: Bill Bridges



Hemp Paper & Fiber Insulation

In the video above Lakota Hemp Daze makes paper.

“We are inside the community building that has solar & wind generated electric energy. I scan across the room showing a tool that is used to comb & rip the fibers from the stalks. A spinning wheel used to make hemp twine, & a Hemp Break used to break out the hurd fiber of the stalks, leaving long strings of hemp. Craig Lee demonstrates.”

BNHPaperSTreesThe way to reverse global warming is to grow green plants (hemp) for paper and let the forests remain to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The use of hemp building materials, such as medium weight fiberboard, hemp cement and plaster, hemp building paper, and laminated beams can reverse global warming. (See BUILDING MATERIALS ROOM )

Hbible170yThis is an English bible, the original rag paper book of the Hemp Museum. Printed in 1830, this 170 year old paper is in excellent condition. Most bibles are printed on hemp paper, it is simply the best paper in the world.
Photo: Bill Bridges

HempBuck5050This hemp buck is from Lawrence, Kansas, half wheat, half hemp paper.




HFactsCalendrThis 1997 calendar is printed on 100% hemp paper, by the Vermont Hemporium.




BondW18671867 Obligation Bond and Warrant.





CelluloAtStrCellulose Atomic Structure. The carbon (C) in cellulose is from carbon dioxide (CO2) a greenhouse gas that is taken in and stored by plants in wood.



Hemp Paper in Tasmania

PAPSearch1848l848 Paper search documents.





PAPSearchRecs1848 paper search receipts.

WordRoll1914Of what kind of paper were word rolls made?




PCHanMadHpaperHandmade hemp paper.
For those wanting a detailed history of papermaking see:



BKPapermakingPAPERMAKING: The History & Technique of an Ancient Craft, by Dard Hunter, 1943 & 1947. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Hunter compiled an excellent chronology (125 pages) of the history of true paper and papermaking that documents the important advances and inventions along this 1900 year history, including some earlier important dates of related events. Click here [PAPER CHRONOLOGY] to see a greatly shortened version edited by the curator.

Hunter stated (p.4): “If man may now be considered as having reached a high state of civilization his gradual development is more directly due to the inventions of paper and printing than all other factors.” And all the way along this path hemp was there. From the first paper, the first printed document, the first book, to the best paper, and to our most cherished documents hemp was part of that history.

ChinesHsymFor the first 500 years China kept the secret of papermaking from the rest of the world. This gave China an incredible edge in new inventions of paper and many of the uses of paper we take for granted such as paper money, playing cards, wallpaper, books, and many others originated in China.

B.C. 2700. Chinese characters conceived; Ts’ang Chieh credited with the invention. [The ancient Chinese symbol for hemp (left) is 4,700 years old, and shows the male and female forms in a drying shed for fiber use. (Conrad, ibid.).]
EgyPapSoloB.C. 2200. Prisse manuscript on papyrus, probably the oldest Egyptian document. Papyrus is a built-up, laminated material and should not be confused with true paper, which was not invented until about A.D. 105.
Papyrus shown here from a Hemp Museum painting. Notice strips of material going different directions.
[A.D. 1937. Mechanical Engineering magazine declared hemp “the most profitable and desirable crop that can be grown.” Mechanical Engineering magazine declared hemp, the most profitable and desirable crop that can be grown. (Conrad, ibid.)]

[A.D. 1938. Popular Mechanics magazine dubbed hemp the “New Billion Dollar Crop” and predicted a bonanza for farmers and industry alike, in a report prepared in 1937. With its 25,000 to 50,000 viable uses, hemp will provide thousands of jobs for American workers throughout the land, reported the magazine.] In modern dollars, hemp is a trillion dollar crop.


“It’s Time to Reconsider Hemp.”

The following editorial is an industry look at paper production and hemp. True pulp paper replaced papyrus as the source of writing material that eventually fostered the spread of the written knowledge out of China to the world. Hemp was one of the largest cash crops in the world until the late 19th century, when new technology (cotton gin) and cheap foreign fibers began to replace it. Paper made from hemp lasts many times longer than that made of wood pulp, without yellowing, cracking or otherwise deteriorating.

Hemp pulp does not require as much (if any) of the acids needed to break down lignin as wood, does not require ozone layer destroying bleach, does not cause dioxin pollution, and has been called the “archivist’s perfect paper.” Restrictions on hemp have led to the destruction of about 70% of American forests since 1937, which were cut for paper. The European Community is at present subsidizing the growing of hemp for paper for the very reason that Europe cut down all its trees for paper and has none left. America’s first paper mills used hemp and other rags to produce paper. We will restore hemp to its rightful place in the history of the world, too bad we didn’t do it nine years ago when this article was written. But what do the paper people say about hemp? The following is from the editor Jim Young of the trade magazine Pulp and Paper, June 1991, titled:


“Let me say up front that I have never smoked a commercially made cigarette, much less that devil weed with roots in hell. Passed through the “60’s” without a single pair of tie-dyed bell bottoms. Identified more with Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muscogee” than Jim Morrison’s “Light my Fire.”

Yet I believe that Indian hemp (cannabis sativa – yes, that cannabis) has more to offer the paper industry than we are taking advantage of (or more correctly, we are allowed to take advantage of.)

Tradition, if not federal law, is on the side of hemp, starting with Ts’ai Lun himself. According to the book The Emperor Wears no Clothes, by Jack Herer, from 75% to 90% of the world’s paper manufactured before 1883 was made from cannabis hemp fiber, including the Gutenberg bible and the first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence. Augmenting the tradition of hemp fiber, the USDA in 1916 predicted a paper making future for nonfiberous portions of the hemp stalk in its Bulletin No. 404, Hemp Hurds as Paper-making Material. Hemp hurds are 0.5 inch to 3 inch pieces of the woody inner portion of hemp that have been separated from the fiber. Hurds contain more than 77% cellulose.”

Reporting on paper making tests with hemp hurds, the bulletin concluded, “Hemp hurd stock acts similarly to soda popular stock, but will produce a somewhat harsher and stronger sheet and one of higher folding endurance. In fact, the hurd stock might very possibly meet with favor as a book stock furnish in the Michigan and Wisconsin paper mills, which are with the sulphite fiber producing region.”

A long awaited mechanized breakthrough in removing the fiber-bearing cortex from the rest of the hemp stalk “without a prohibitive use of human labor” was described in a three page article in the February 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics entitled, “The New Billion Dollar Crop.” Written at the time of the passage of the federal Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the article included the challenge, “If federal regulations can be drawn to protect the public without preventing the legitimate culture of hemp, this new crop can add immeasurably to American agriculture and industry.” This was not to be however. Perhaps not coincidentally, the tax act uprooted the Billion dollar crop (1938 dollars) before it could be planted.

It is the dried flowers and top leaves of the female Cannabis sativa, of course, that constitute marijuana. Without opening the debate on its legalization or the psychotropic effects of its delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, it is worth noting that interest in paper making from hemp continues as our fiber, energy, and environmental concerns increase.

The “70’s” was a decade of intensive study of Cannabis paper making, particularly in Italy, France, Spain, and Holland. Different varieties of hemp have been developed for various paper making applications, depending on the cooking process and end use of the pulp. Concurrent research and selective breeding reduced THC content. In France, farmers must obtain low-THC cannabis seed directly from the National Hemp Producers Federation, inform the Ministries of Health and Agriculture of their intent, and have a guaranteed purchaser of their crop.

The high cost of limited production currently restricts hemp to specialty use such as European and Asian cigarette papers. Cannabis hemp can probably be pulped in existing kenaf paper pulping equipment, but it will take more than imported stock to make it economically feasible.

Hemp is the world’s primary biomass producer, growing ten tons per acre in approximately four months. It can produce four times the amount of paper/acre than 20 year old trees and will grow in all climatic zones of the contiguous 48 states.

Pyrolysis of hemp can be adjusted to produce charcoal, pyrolytic oil, gas, or methanol with a claimed 95.5% fuel to feed efficiency. Pyrolytic fuel oil has properties similar to Nos. 2 and 6 fuel oil. Burning charcoal does not cause acid rain.

U.S. hemp growing restrictions were set aside to meet material shortages during WWII. They should now at least be modified to meet pending shortages of fiber, energy, and environmental quality.”


CigPPureHempHMPURE HEMP: Handmade Rolling Papers. The only rolling papers I know of made in the U.S.A.