Hemp: Soak it, don’t smoke it!

Hemp is a fabric often used in cloth diapers, particularly in doublers or boosters meant to add absorbency.  What is hemp?

Well, first of all, the hemp plant used in making fabric is a different species of plant than is used to make marijuana, and has been specifically bred to have very low levels of THC (the part that makes it a drug.)  Nevertheless, United States law does not distinguish between the different types of hemp, and so hemp cannot be legally grown in the US.  This is one of the things that makes hemp more expensive than cotton.  So why would we use hemp when cotton will do?

1. Hemp is an eco-friendly fiber that requires few pesticides and no herbicides.  It also has a very high yield per acre.

2. Hemp has antimicrobial properties – great for diapers!

3. Hemp, unlike cotton, has hollow fibers and so is more absorbent.  This means that 1 oz of cotton will be less absorbent than 1 oz of hemp.  What this means for you is that a hemp doubler can be trimmer than one made of cotton, but still equally absorbent.  Hemp doublers are one of the best ways of adding absorbency to a diaper without adding a lot of bulk.

4. This is the part I’ve been waiting for: hemp is INCREDIBLY durable.  I realized as I was folding laundry today that I have a great visual of just how durable hemp is.  I have 3 identical Babykicks hemp prefolds.  One is brand-new, one has been used continuously for 1 1/2 years, and one has been in continuous use for SIX years or more.  (At this point I can’t remember exactly when I got it but I know the child I bought them for w-ill be 7 in August!) The 1 1/2 year old prefold is in near perfect condition.  The 6+ year old one has a few small holes on the edges but is largely intact.  But what is amazing is the serging on the edges, which was done with cotton thread, has almost completely worn away.

The new one is on the bottom, 1.5 year old one in the middle, and the 6+ year old one is on the top.

Close up shot of the red cotton thread on the edges.  I have never seen this before – the thread wears away before the actual fabric! That’s some heavy-duty hemp there!

The only sign of wear in the 1.5 year old one is the thread has broken in one spot.  My cotton prefolds (continuous use and washed in hot water 3 times a week) started to get holes in the top layer of cotton along the edges and seams after about a year).

 Close up of the oldest prefold.  Seriously, SIX years!  That’s like X-treme Cloth Diapering in my book.

So who thinks that was amazing?  Do any of you have a diaper that’s still going strong after 6 years?  What’s the oldest diaper you still use?  Do you have a super-durable superstar in your stash?

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