Hemp vs. polyester, a debate that is being presented more and more frequently. On the one hand, we have one of the most used synthetic fibers to date vs. a natural fiber that is beginning to conquer several spaces, which one could be superior? This is what we will try to establish today.
Properties of polyester
Within the textile industry, polyester is the synthetic fiber of choice. It began to be used as a substitute for cotton. After its massification, it has stood out for its versatility as a raw material.
It is used in uniforms, bags, sportswear, among others. Due to its properties, it has been easy to work it and elaborate different types of fabrics according to the use that will be given to it. Among these properties we can highlight:
Non-wrinkling: An advantage over natural fibers, which tend to warp. Textiles based on polyester and lycra have been developed and have given better results.
Compatible with other fabrics: It can improve its quality if combined with other materials such as cotton, wool, nylon or rayon. Gaining greater functionality and durability.
It is light: Considered one of the lightest fabrics available, but without being less resistant or durable, capable of withstanding tension or tearing.
Moisture resistant: Absorbs less water than other synthetic fabrics, which extends its durability and does not allow odors to develop.
Better highlighting of colors: By absorbing ink better, the fabric can show off colors and prints better, making them brighter and more durable.
Properties of hemp
Hemp as a fabric, which throughout history has had various roles, is recorded as being used in China around 2800 BC. In Europe it was a widely used fabric, as was wool during the 3rd century BC.
Its commercial use has grown exponentially, although still below other natural fabrics. Its properties endow it with several characteristics that make it one of the best natural fibers. It is considered the best substitute for petroleum derivatives.
It is thinner than cotton: A quality that makes it possible to make garments that are light and very fresh.
It is very flexible: It adapts to the skin and does not wrinkle. It is softer than cotton, with each wash cycle, it tends to increase its softness.
Resistant: It can withstand chafing or temperatures, so any activity can be performed without risk of damaging the fabric.
Breathable: Thanks to its porosity, it allows air to pass freely through the garment. It is highly absorbent and has antibacterial properties, preventing unpleasant odors.
Photoprotector: Filters ultraviolet light, protecting the skin from the sun’s scorching rays that can cause skin cancer.
It is a timeless fabric: In summer it is cool and in winter it helps to conserve heat, as it is thermogenic.
Versatility: Depending on the use of the fiber, the thickness and softness of the textile can be modified. In addition, it can be combined with other materials resulting in more resistant fabrics.
Comparison between hemp vs. polyester
If we compare Hemp vs Polyester, it becomes evident that both fabrics have similar properties, which focus on functionality and comfort. But at what point do the two fabrics diverge?
As for their differences, we will discuss them later. We can highlight the softness of both, where hemp improves its softness with each wash.
Both are antibacterial, resistant and flexible, but hemp tends to absorb a lot of water and become heavy, which is a problem on a rainy day, although it is breathable, so there would be no problem with sweat. Polyester, on the other hand, can repel water and dries faster, but is not breathable.
In terms of high temperatures, both are resistant, but polyester is inferior and becomes uncomfortable when the temperature rises.
The absorbent properties of hemp allow it to retain its color for a longer period of time, although it may lose intensity, while polyester retains its color.
Both can be integrated with other materials, but polyester today has more uses, and the stigma about hemp continues to cut it off in some industries. But, there is no doubt that between the two, hemp fabric is sustainable.
The 5 crucial differences between polyester and hemp
Although we can find similarities between the two fabrics, there are abysmal differences between the two, marking a turning point.
Hemp clothing takes approximately 4 years to decompose, it can be recycled or composted. Polyester, on the other hand, takes between 200 and 500 years to decompose completely, it is a petroleum derivative, so its production generates a large carbon footprint.
Fast fashion is a phenomenon that is generating thousands of tons of waste per year, where polyester is one of the main materials discarded year after year.
The workers in the factories where polyester is manufactured are subjected to a work environment contaminated with different chemicals, since in order to treat the oil they must use different compounds to create the fibers, involving the health of those involved in its production.
Hemp must be cultivated, it takes about 120 days to be ready for harvest. It then spends 6 weeks in the field, so that it can remove the pectin. It then has to be steamed to process the raw hemp into yarns.
Polyester is a resin derived from petroleum, so its production is mass-produced, making it possible to obtain the greatest amount of fibers in the shortest possible time.
When working with natural fibers, the energy savings are greater compared to synthetic fibers that require a greater amount of energy and resources. In addition, the raw material is cheaper. However, with the massification of production, costs are reduced.
Presence in industries
Due to the stigma attached to hemp, which has come to be confused with marijuana, and restrictions in some countries have slowed the advance of hemp in different sectors, preventing its expansion, so its presence is limited to certain sectors.
Is hemp superior to polyester?
Although it has a long way to go, there is no doubt that hemp could replace oil in the future. Nowadays people are more conscious of what they use, measuring the impact it will have on the earth, looking for alternatives of great value, where hemp shines with excellence.
It is a quality fabric, very versatile and with many uses, which probably we have not discovered all the applications it can have, but it is undoubtedly superior to polyester.