A picture of industrial hemp for textile manufacturing and linen for textile manufacturing

Hemp vs Linen for Summer – Which Fabric is Best? (2023 Guide)

Hemp vs Linen – Eco-friendly Fabrics

I’ve been obsessed with hemp for the last 13 years…

Before the 1900’s, Hemp was a solid industry in the US, until 1937 when it was banned in the US for economic competition with Cotton, Timber and Synthetic Plastics (just terrible…),

and the anti-hemp propaganda movement.

In 2018 the Farm Bill lifted that ban and Hemp has been back in business in nearly every major industry…

But the industry we’re most focused on today… are textiles. Clothing, fabrics, and wearables.

The world of fabrics is… widening.

Hemp vs linen… two luxurious giants of textiles emerge as comfortable materials that have become the talk of the tribe in sustainable fashion circles.

Both, natural fiber are renowned for their eco-friendly attributes, these natural fabrics have given polyester and other (garbage) synthetic materials a run for their money.

We’ll answer your questions, and make choosing between Hemp vs Linen an easy decision by the end of this, and even introduce some of our favorite brands.

Understanding Hemp vs Linen

1. What are Hemp Fibers?

  • Origin: Hemp is a robust textile derived from Cannabis sativa. The stalks of this versatile plant yield thick, rope-like fibers, which after undergoing multiple processing stages, transform into a soft, durable fabric.

  • Uses: Apart from textiles, the Cannabis sativa plant also offers an inner pith, utilized for creating building materials, producing biofuels, and crafting animal bedding, showcasing its far-reaching applications beyond the fashion industry.

How is hemp clothing best processed and how is it sustainable compared to other clothing fabrics?

Hemp fabric is cherished for its environmental sustainability, and hemp plants are cultivated without the need for harmful chemicals, processed using eco-friendly techniques.

The best method of processing hemp involves the “retting process”, where the hemp fibers are naturally separated from the stalk through microbial activity or soaking in water.

This environmentally friendly and conscious method is energy-efficient and reduces pollution.

Compared to conventional clothing fabrics like polyester or non-organic cotton, hemp fiber is:

  • more biodegradable

  • requires fewer pesticides

  • promotes soil health.

These factors make hemp a clear front-runner in the realm of sustainable fashion, offering a greener alternative durable fabrics that aligns with the values of conscientious consumers. We LIKEEEEE.

2. What is Linen (Flax Fibers)?

  • Origin: Linen’s roots trace back to the flax plant, a testament to its age-old popularity spanning ancient Egypt and Greece. Ancient Hebrews were probably rocking some silky linen (maybe? lol)

Anyway, the natural fibers extracted from flax plants are characteristically thick, resilient, and supple, somewhat akin to cotton, but with a denser feel.

  • Characteristics: Linen boasts unique qualities that render it ideal for wear in hot, humid climates. Its quick-drying nature coupled with reduced heat retention make linen garments a summer wardrobe staple.

How is Linen best processed and how is it sustainable compared to other clothing fabrics?

Linen comes from the flax plant, rivaling the Hemp plant for it’s sustainability and prowess as a symbol of eco-friendly fashion. I feel like prowess is a weird descriptor but in this case it works.

The processing of linen involves a similar process to hemps:

First you ret, followed by scutching, heckling, and spinning.

I know those words are weird but basically:

  1. Retting: Imagine the flax plant’s stalks are like a bunch of straws bundled together, and inside these straws are the beautiful fibers we need to make linen. Retting is like soaking these straws in water (or letting the rain do it for you) until the hard outer part gets mushy. Then, the fibers inside start to loosen up, and they become easier to get to.

  2. Scutching: Now that the fibers are loose, we have to get rid of the mushy outer part. Scutching is like taking a big spoon or paddle and smacking the straws to break off all the mushy stuff. It’s a bit like making mud pies but cleaner!

  3. Heckling: Next, we take the fibers that are left and need to make them all smooth and nice. Heckling is like brushing your hair with a comb to get all the tangles out. The fibers are pulled through a special comb that makes them straight and ready to be spun.

  4. Spinning: Finally, we’re ready to make the yarn! Spinning is like taking the smooth fibers and twisting them together to make a long string. Imagine taking a piece of cotton candy and twisting it into a yarn shape – that’s what we’re doing with the flax fibers. This yarn is then used to weave into the beautiful linen fabric we use for clothes and bedsheets.

Embracing linen for your clothing or bedding needs thus contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle, marrying luxury and responsibility in a timeless fabric.

Hemp vs Linen: Common Traits

Their similarities extend to the following:

  • Natural and Lightweight: Both fabrics are a gift of nature, crafted from plant fibers and inheriting lightness and breathability from good ‘ol green.

  • Moisture-Wicking: Hemp fabric and linen exhibit moisture-wicking properties, aiding in sweat shedding and leaving you feeling cooler even on the hottest days.

  • Insulation: Despite their lightness, the hollowness of their fibers allows for excellent insulation, making hemp and linen garments comfortably warm during colder seasons. This happens because the fibers trap your bodies internal heat during cold spells, but when you’re sweating the fiber soaks it up, releasing the heat as it dries.

  • Durability and Softness: They are known for their longevity, withstanding years of use, and interestingly, becoming even softer with repeated washing and usage.

  • Eco-friendly Attributes: Biodegradability and antibacterial properties of these fabrics make them immune to moths, dust mites, mold, and mildew, reducing the environmental impact during their life cycle and after.

  • Hypoallergenic: Sensitive skin types will appreciate the hypoallergenic nature of both hemp and linen, reducing irritation and allergic reactions.

  • Easy to Dye: Both fabrics absorb dyes well, allowing for a vibrant range of colors in clothing and bedding.

Differences Between Hemp vs Linen

Here’s a comparison chart to consider their differences:

AspectHempLinen (Flax)
StrengthEight times stronger than linen, enhancing durability and resistance to wear and tear.Not as strong as hemp; more prone to wear and tear.
Longevity & ElasticityGenerally longer lifespan; may lack elasticity compared to linen.While not as long-lasting as hemp, offers greater elasticity, adding to comfort.
Sun ExposureSuperior resistance to UV rays, reducing fading and damage from sun exposure.Less resistant to UV rays; may fade more quickly under sun exposure.
Pesticide UseHardy, with a natural resistance to pests, reducing the need for chemical interventions.More susceptible to weeds, possibly leading to increased herbicide and pesticide use that can deplete soil.
Resource UseRequires more resources for growth, including water, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.Thrives with minimal nutrients and water, conserving resources.
Biodiversity & AvailabilityEncourages biodiversity by attracting bees, but may have less immediate market availability.Not as biodiversity-friendly as hemp, but currently enjoys wider market availability and accessibility.
Hemp Vs Linen

Hopefully that makes it a little easier for you to choose. (cough, cough) Choose HEMP.

The Environmental Impact of Hemp vs Linen

The environmental footprints of these crops are significant:

  • Soil Conditions: Hemp serves as a soil improver, preventing depletion and supporting the land’s health, allowing for repeated plantings without crop rotation. In contrast, linen cultivation can strip nutrients from the earth over time, necessitating field rotation.

  • Crop Rotation: The high nutrient demand of linen calls for crop rotation after about 4-5 years of cultivation. However, hemp cultivation allows the same plot to be reused, saving on land resources.

  • Sustainability: With an average yield of 5,000-6,000 pounds per acre annually compared to flax’s 1,200-1,400 pounds, hemp stands out as a more sustainable and efficient crop. It also bolsters the growth of subsequent crops, such as wheat, by 20%.

Textile Characteristics of Hemp vs Linen

Fabric properties play a major role in the hemp vs linen debate:

  • Resilience: Hemp’s resistance to UV rays, mold, pests, and mildew make it ideal for sheets and clothing. Linen, however, requires careful storage to prevent mold and mildew formation.

  • Moisture Content: A negligible difference exists in moisture absorption between hemp and linen, with the former holding around 12% moisture and the latter around 10%.

  • Wrinkles: Both fabrics are prone to creasing, but linen tends to wrinkle more, often in the same spots, requiring extra care to maintain a smooth appearance.

FAQs

Is Hemp Better Than Linen (Flax Plant)?

In sustainability terms, hemp takes the lead. However, when it comes to textile quality, it’s a tie. Both exhibit more similarities than differences, steering the choice towards personal preference.

Is Hemp Cooler Than Linen?

No, both hemp and linen fibers offer equal breathability and superb insulating properties. Whether it’s a sweltering summer or a breezy evening, both these fabrics are more efficient at keeping you cool than cotton.

What Are the Disadvantages of Hemp Fabric?

Hemp’s slightly rougher texture compared to cotton or even linen sheets might take some getting used to. Additionally, it’s prone to wrinkling, demanding careful washing and drying to minimize creasing.

Does Hemp Crease Like Linen?

Yes, although hemp is slightly less prone to creasing than linen. Proper washing and drying can help hemp sheets maintain a wrinkle-free appearance to a great extent.

Brands We Love

This is a male model representing the brand Jungmaven. This brand is making a statement for hemp in the Hemp vs Linen battle.

Jungmaven

Jungmaven, a brand imbued with nature’s wisdom, presents clothing crafted from hemp, the material once overshadowed but now reclaimed as a textile star. Sharing some common traits with linen, such as lightweight nature and moisture-wicking capabilities, hemp becomes a summer favorite in Jungmaven’s collection. Sustainability is not just a buzzword for Jungmaven; it is a commitment to preserving our planet through environmentally conscious manufacturing. Their clothing line, bearing the natural elegance of hemp, speaks to those who believe in fashion that nurtures both the wearer and the world.

A shirt made out of hemp. Made from a brand that is supposed to represent hemp vs linen.

Rawganique

Looking for something fresh and eco-friendly in your wardrobe? Let me introduce you to Rawganique. This isn’t a hemp vs linen situation, because they’ve tapped into the natural magic of both fabrics to create clothes that aren’t just comfortable and stylish but also gentle on Mother Earth.

What sets Rawganique apart? Well, they believe in more than just wearing clothes. They believe in wearing values. If you care about our planet and want your clothing to reflect that, then Rawganique might just be the brand you’ve been searching for. Sounds intriguing? Let’s dive in!

Blue eyed women standing in hemp underwear modeling

WAMA Underwear

With affordable sustainability at the forefront of fashion consciousness, WAMA Underwear emerges as a responsible choice for the eco-aware consumer. This innovative brand utilizes hemp, a fiber known for its softness, durability, and environmental sustainability, to craft quality underwear. Hemp’s properties, such as its biodegradability and minimal need for harmful chemicals, make WAMA a leader in environmentally friendly fashion. Not only are the products comfortable, but they also reflect the brand’s commitment to preserving our Earth. WAMA Underwear stands as a testament to how luxurious and sustainable choices can go hand in hand.

Conclusion: Hemp vs Linen – A Personal Choice

Emerging as champions in the sustainable fabric race, both the hemp and linen fibers promise comfort, durability, and eco-friendliness…

So the final verdict for hemp vs linen?

Well, my preference (and heart) lie with Hemp as the final choice.

These qualities make them excellent choices for both clothing, and bedding.

Your ultimate choice between hemp and linen will hinge on what you value most – be it softness, sustainability, or availability. But rest assured, with such eco-friendly and comfortable contenders, you can’t go wrong.

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