A Maritime Industrial Hemp Product Marketing Study
Glossary of Terms
We have a prepared a list of some of the terms that exist in the world of hemp. These are:
Dew Retting is the traditional method induced by frequent rains and dews. After the hemp stalk is cut, it is spread evenly on the ground to allow decomposition of the pectin. There is a fine line between retting and rotting. If continued wet weather prevents the straw in the field from being lifted at the proper time, it becomes over-retted and is of little value. Without the proper equipment dew retting is labour intensive. It may take only one to two weeks if the weather is warm and humid, but usually four to five weeks are required. The retting process is followed by a period of drying and the stalks are baled are then stored for further processing. The fibre from dew retted hemp is light brown in colour and rather coarse. It is used primarily for twine, cordage and fine paper.
In Water Retting, Bundles of hemp are submerged in clear water low in calcium and chlorides allowing bacterial activity to break down the pectin. The average retting period is seven to 10 days after which retted bundles are then rinsed, washed, sun-dried and stored for fibre extraction. Although water retting is more costly than dew retting, the fibre is of a higher quality. It can be combed one or more times, refined, dyed, spun and woven into whatever extent is required for cable, rope, string, thread, cloth, etc.
Warm Water Retting is similar to water retting but the hemp is soaked for 24 hours then new water is added and brought to an elevated temperature for about two to three days. A very uniform, clean fibre is produced.
Green Retting is, as the name implies, green stalks are mechanically processed to separate the fibre from the stalk. The high quality fibre can be refined for the textile industry while the remaining stalk can be used in the paper and fibre board industries.
Chemical Retting consists of placing hemp stalks in a processing tank where chemical agents are used to dissolve the pectin. By maintaining a constant processing temperature the retting time can be reduced to 48 hours while producing a very high quality fibre.
After the retting process the hemp fibre and the stalk are loosely held together and must be decorticated, scutched, hackled and combed to remove the remaining pieces of stalk, broken fibres and extraneous material. Mechanical decortication equipment can be used in conjunction with turbine scutchers to separate the fibre and the non-fibrous portion of the stalk.
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Hemp Food Association
This page last updated on 18 April 1999.