How to Process Hemp Rope ; Use This 6-Step Guide to Make Your Own!
Did you know Hemp has both the strongest and longest plant fibers in the world? Hemp rope is so strong it was used to make sails in the 1800’s! Use these 6 Simple Steps to learn how to process Hemp Rope:
How to Process Hemp Rope
Making your Hemp rope is a straightforward process. However, if you are starting with fresh hemp plants, then you must rett them before you can use them. Retting is the process of separating the bast from the rest of the plant. This can be a very complicated process. If you are very serious and want to invest in the entire process, then this PDF should tell you everything you need to know. For most of us, we are probably starting with Hemp that has already been processed. Most likely in the form or hemp yarn.
Step 1: Unwind Your Hemp Yarn
Unwind your yarn and cut it into sections about twice as long as you wish your finished rope to be. Group these strands into a bundle and keep cutting until it is about half as thick as you want your rope to be. Note: More is better than less. You can always trim your finished piece.
Step 2: Take Your Bundle and Fold It In Half
Take your bundle and fold it in half so that there is a loop at one end. Secure the loop in some way. Either by knotting it around a stake in the ground or some other sort of peg. Just make sure that whatever you chose, it is very sturdy. It will have to hold up to a lot of pulling, especially if you are making thicker rope. Knot the bundle around the peg in such a way that you can pull on each side without it sliding back and forth. Once it is secure, smooth out the fibers of each side by running your hand down the length of the bundle. Start at the fixed end and move toward the loose end. Do not go the other way.
Step 3: Tie a Knot at the End of Each Bundle
Tie a simple knot at the end of each bundle and then insert a small dowl so that it evenly splits the strands. These will serve as handles so that you can grip your work.
Step 4: Pull and Twist
Start with one of the bundles and simultaneously pull and twist in a clockwise motion until the bundle starts to form into a tightly wound cord. Keep turning and pull harder and harder until the cord begins to kink. At this point, you should be pulling as hard as you can. Once the kinking starts, secure the cord you have been working on by weighing it down with a rock or some other heavy object. Then, repeat the process with the other side of the bundle. By the end of this step, you should have two tightly wound cords. Note: Depending on the thickness of the rope you are making, you may not be able to pull as hard as you can without snapping your project. Use discretion.
Step 5: Now Twist in a Clockwise Motion
Take each of the cords you have made and, pulling as hard as you can, twist them together into one larger rope. This time though, turn in a counterclockwise motion. Once again, continue to twist until the line starts to kink up.
Step 6: Slide Dowels Out and You are Finished!
The basic form of your rope is now complete. Slide the dowels out that you have been using as handles and secure the end with a simple overhand knot. Then, slide the end off that you attached to the peg and tie it as well.
Watch Hemp Rope-Making Live
I found this video to be extremely helpful, and also fun to watch!
How to Condition and Dye Your Hemp Rope
At this point, you will have a fully functional hemp rope that is ready for use in all kinds of ways. However, it will be very rough and unpleasant to use. Don’t worry; the next section shows how to condition your rope, so it is soft and flexible. You can even dye it if your project requires a more artsy touch!
- Your new hemp rope!
- Either a large pot or pressure cooker – big enough to submerge all of your rope in the water. (If you are processing a large amount of rope, you can do this in batches)
- Washer and dryer (This is not completely necessary, but it sure makes the process much easier and faster.)
- One of those mesh laundry bags, or an old pillowcase
- Dye (Optional) – any kind of dye will work as long as it is for natural fibers
- 1 Cup of Salt
- An old towel – or any rough piece of cloth
- Some sort of burner – you can use either your kitchen stove or any portable gas burner.
- Mineral Oil
- Masking Tape
- Whipping twine
Step 1: Daisy-Chain Your Rope
First, you will want to daisy chain your rope so that it does not get tangled while you are conditioning it. The best way to do this is to daisy chain your rope. If you have never done this before, don’t worry, it’s super easy. This simple video can teach you how in a matter of seconds.
Step 2: Pre-soak Your Rope
Presoak your rope in a bucket of warm water overnight. Soaking will reduce the amount of time you have to boil the rope and will also remove any odors. As it soaks, the rope will probably twist and push up out of the water. To keep this from happening, you can place something heavy on top to keep it submerged.
Step 3: Boil Your Rope
Next, you have to boil the rope. Just fill a pot with enough water to completely submerge your rope, toss it in and turn the burner on high. Once the water has reached a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for three hours.
Step 4: Rinse Your Rope
Pour out the dirty water and rinse the rope under cold water so that you don’t burn yourself. Place the daisy chain in the dryer and cycle the machine until the rope is completely dry. This may take longer than a standard load of laundry, depending on how thick your rope is. The more times you boil and dry the rope, the softer it will get, but be warned, your rope will also get weaker each time. So, if you intend to use your rope for heavy load-bearing activities, you should be careful with this step. Dying your rope, will include another boil and wash. So if your rope is close to the feel that you want, just push on to the next step.
Step 5: Dye Your Rope
This is the step that explains how to dye your rope. This is purely aesthetic, so if you are not worried about how your rope looks, you can just skip this step and continue with the conditioning process.
Fill your pot back up with water and add a cup of nonionized salt. Check the bottle of dye you have chosen to see how much you should use to obtain your desired color. Add your dye and bring the water to a boil. Unravel your daisy chain and slowly lower your rope into the water so that the hot water does not splash out of the pot. Let everything boil for about an hour, longer for darker dyes, then pour out the dye and rinse your rope until the water runs clear. If you are dying a lot of rope than the shower works great for rinsing. If you are only doing a small amount, then a colander in the sink works great. After everything is rinsed, just hang the rope up outside to dry.
After your rope is dry, daisy chain it again and put it inside a mesh laundry bag or old pillowcase and tie it shut. Machine wash your rope on the hottest setting, then dry it in the dryer.
Step 6: Break-in Your Rope
Next, you must break in your rope. Take it out of the bag and unravel the daisy chain. It will probably be very stiff and kinky. Find some semi-sharp edge, such as a staircase railing or fence post. Metal is best for this step, but if you have to use something else, just make sure that it will not wear down too quickly or leave splinters in your rope. Pull the rope back and forth over the edge to break it in. You should put a lot of force into this. If your arms and back do not hurt, then you are probably not pulling hard enough. Continue until the rope is soft and malleable. Note: This will make the surface of your rope worn and fuzzy – this is normal. The next step will show how to take care of this.
Step 7: Purify Your Rope with Fire
To get rid of all the fuzzies from breaking in the rope, turn on your gas burner and pull the rope through the flame. Go slow enough that the fuzzies burn, but fast enough so that the rope itself does not burn or scorch. Start at the end of your rope, so you get a feel for how fast you need to go. That way, if you do end of scorching the rope, you can trim that part off. After all the Fuzzies are gone, take your towel and pull the rope through it to remove the soot.
Step 8: Clean Your Rope with Mineral Oil
Put some mineral oil on a clean cloth and pull the rope through it, just like you did to remove the soot. Make sure that there is not too much oil on your cloth. You just want a thin coat.
Step 9: Modify Your Rope If You Want a Custom Length
If you would like more precise lengths of rope than you have, simply measure, then wrap the place where you are going to cut with masking tape. Cut in the middle of the masking tape so that your ends stay tightly wound.
Step 10: Finish the Ends of Your Rope and You are Finished!
To permanently finish the ends of your rope pinch right behind the masking tape and then peel it off. Use your whipping twine or thread to whip the ends, so they do not unravel. Similar to the daisy chain, whipping is a little hard to describe. So watch this quick video to learn how.
Where to Buy Completed Hemp Rope
If you do not have the time to make your own, here are some trusted online retailers that sell completed Hemp Rope:
A Brief History of Hemp
Hemp was once the most popular material for making a variety of household items: twine, cloth, paper, and of course, today’s subject, rope. Knowing how to make rope was once a crucial part of survival, and today I will show you the whole process so you can do it too, but first, a little more about our material.
Hemp is a member of the cannabis family, the same family as marijuana. Because of this close relationship, it has been illegal to grow in the US. This prohibition was lifted in 2018 when President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, which allowed the production of hemp with some restrictions. Hemp contains none of the chemicals which make you high. It does contain CBD, which is a popular ingredient in all kinds of products because of its perceived medical benefits. However, this is a more recent use of the plant. Its durable fibers are seen in use throughout history for making all kinds of things. There is documentation of hemp rope being used in China as far back as 2,800 BC.
These fibers which became such a valuable material for early settlers are called “bast.” They make up the layer between the outer bark and the core of the plant. They are incredibly long since hemp can grow up to 15 feet tall, which is one of the reasons they are so useful for making rope and twine. They are also naturally resistant to mold and ultraviolet light, making them ideal for outdoor use.
Hemp also grows very quickly, producing up to 75 tons per acre per year, which means it is very cheap and easy to come by.
Learning how to process Hemp rope is fun and exciting, especially considering you get to make something yourself! If you are interested to try one of our handcrafted Hemp Extract Products, click here to check them out!
Discussion question: Have you tried to make your own Hemp rope? What was your experience like? What did you make?
Thank you for taking the time to read How to Process Hemp Rope ; Use This Simple Guide to Make Your Own! My goal is to make you a Hemp expert!
To your well-being,
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