DIY - How to make hempcrete at home

Published May 22, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Bogdanhoda

The weather is getting nicer, and home improvements are on a lot of people's minds, which means that a lot of folks are fixing up garden beds, repairing driveways, and building helpful additions like shed’s, pathways, and decks. It’s the perfect temperature to work up a sweat without having to worry about going overboard, and since the ground has thawed, we can start paving small areas or building things that we’ve waited all winter to work on.

Now, normally, to do this you’d probably head to your closest hardware store to buy some bricks, cement, or anything else that you might need to get the job done, but what if we told you there is a more environmentally friendly option that will hold up to years of use, and degrade at a much slower rate than traditional materials? Not only that but what if this elusive product we’re hinting at could also be made at home? Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to design your own bricks and structures from scratch?

With hempcrete, you can make sidewalks, pathways, driveways, or even build your very own hemp house. You can also make your own garden or patio stones, shed, doghouse, or get really creative and put together a mold so that you can erect your very own statue. The sky is truly the limit if you’re in need of a heavy-duty material that will hold up to just about any task, and you’ve got some hempcrete on hand, which is why we wanted to show you how to make some for yourself.

How to make hempcrete step by step

Even if you aren’t quite feeling up to the challenge of designing your very own hemp house, hempcrete can be really useful for many smaller projects, and it’s incredibly easy to make if you know where to start. The only thing that you have to remember is that it’s similar to concrete in the way that it dries, so you do have to work relatively quickly and efficiently once you’ve mixed up a batch, and if you’re working outdoors, then you’ll definitely want to check out the radar, and avoid rain or cooler weather for the best results.

Materials

  • 4 parts hemp hurd (this is ground up hemp materials that you’ll need before starting)
  • 1 part lime
  • 1 part water

Tools

  • Large industrial bucket
  • Stick (or another stirring tool)

Instructions

  1. To start, you’ll need to add the lime and water to the bucket, and then combine them thoroughly using a mixing stick.

  2. Now slowly add in the hemp hurd bit by bit, mixing the ingredients together the whole way through to avoid clumps. If the surface starts to look dry, stop and stir until the mixture is soft, wet, and consistent before continuing.

  3. Once all of the ingredients are mixed together, it should result in a thick sludge-like consistency that is similar to regular cement. At this point, it is ready to be poured into a mold for bricks, a dugout hole to stabilize a fence pole, or in a cut-out pathway that needs filling. It’s best to wait until you’re ready to pour before mixing up a batch to keep it fresher, for longer.

Setting time

Hempcrete will look like it’s starting to set almost right away, but that is just the moisture leaving the surface that is exposed to oxygen. Underneath, however, it will stay soft and goopy for quite a while, and it can take up to 48 hours to set completely under ideal circumstances. If it rains, or you add a bit too much water to the mixture, then it can take longer than that, so be careful and follow the instructions closely for the absolute best results.

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