Hemp: Wood Finish from Hemp Seed Oil

Story By Ed Saukkooja

     Last week I took the opportunity to speak with a pioneer of the modern hemp movement. The following is a synopsis of that conversation.
     Dave Seber was a lumberman working the Redwood markets that was amazed at the volume of fiber we consume as a society.
     Pulp, paper, composite building materials and textiles all require enormous amounts of natural fiber. Manifest Destiny has eliminated our abundance of virgin forest. Starting on the East Coast of America through the Midwest pine forest, the last stands of our old growth forests in the West have been slaughtered, leaving only small pockets of these magnificent forests in National Parks. Even the National forests are under constant attacks by those wanting more sales of timber to supply the market demands. Dave understood that these practices were not sustainable.

     The question was, how could we reduce the deforestation of our country? The answer was hemp, as shown by Lester Dewey in the1914 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research he conducted in the Imperial Valley of California. His writings in the USDA Bulletin 404 published in 1914 show that hemp could produce four times the amount of fiber per acre than forest products over a 20 year cycle.
     In the early 90s, Dave and his partner at the time (Bill Conde) started a collaboration with Prof. Tom Maloney (now deceased), of the Forestry Division at Washington State University, to find a solution. The hemp fiber had been imported from the government hemp committee in Le Mans, France to Washington State University.   Experiments to determine whether hemp would be a suitable raw material for building materials, such as MDF (medium density fiberboard), were conducted. They concluded that hemp was a superior product to composites made from wood fiber. Those experiments led to the understanding that it would take vast acreages to have a significant effect. With no hemp grown in North America at the time, and laws prohibiting hemp farming, it was inconceivable that we would ever reach that goal.
     Twenty-five years later, definite progress has been made. Our Canadian friends are now planting tens of thousands of acres of hemp, and the politics of the United States are seeing the light. Thirty state legislatures have passed legislation, or are working towards passing legislation, that will once again open the door to commercial growing of industrial hemp.

     For the past few years,  Dave has been working with what the hemp industry has available now, which is seed oil from the Canadian hemp harvests. Combining old school practices with modern technology, HEMP SHIELD is fast becoming recognized as a superior eco-friendly wood finish and deck sealer and a great log home treatment, with no smell, no formaldehyde, with no toxic properties or hazardous air pollutants, and great to work with indoors. Dave and his chemist partner Steve Nieswander, who has 25 years of experience with a leading U.S. coating manufacture, were not deterred by the lack of research done in this field since the end of World War II, when industrial hemp was outlawed for the second time.
     HEMP SHIELD is neither an oil or water based finish, but a hybrid -- Waterborne Hemp Oil is proving water and oil do mix. Hemp Shield is manufactured in Eugene OR., Dave hopes in the near future Hemp Shield will be sourcing the required hemp seed oil from local farmers now that Oregon has passed new laws allowingtheir farmers to once again begin to grow this multi-dimensional crop. Reducing the transportation cost of the raw material will be essential for Dave and other Hemp developers to compete for the American market’s.
     HEMP SHIELD is available in 2 oz. samples, quarts, gallons and five gallon sizes. You are welcome to browse the www.Hempshield.net for more details.
     Dave also noted that beekeepers have found HEMP SHIELD to be excellent for sealing and protecting their hives. Bee’s have been under attack from pesticides and other chemicals in our environment for years. HEMP SHIELD could be part of the solution protecting the world’s pollinators.
     The entire Hemp community congratulates Dave Seber and his crew for bringing eco-friendly hemp seed oil based wood coatings and preservatives to the market place.