The useful hempseed is about 30%-35% oil content, which as we know is valued as a food and for topical uses. Hemp oil is currently rather high priced in the modern marketplace, say $40 a gallon wholesale, but as hemp’s production and popularity grows, there will a greater supply of non-food grade oil.
Waste not, want not. As industrial oil, hemp oil has a number of useful applications including that of a natural wood stain.
Hemp oil wood stain has been available in the market in small amounts but not until recently on a scale or a quality that will see it stocked in the big box home improvement superstores.
Some Sticky Basics
At its most basic, unrefined hemp oil acts as a simple drying oil. It penetrates, hardens and preserves wood, and provides a long-lasting finish. And like any other stain, it can be used craftily to darken wood color, to accent the grain, to match different pieces of wood and to help accent details.
One of the most important natural features of hemp oil as a wood stain is that it is low-to-no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). While VOCs are a broad class of chemicals, some being natural and benign, some manmade VOCs are dangerous to the habitat or to people directly. Some are known carcinogens. Paints and coatings commonly contain VOCs that then may off-gas over time, contributing to sick buildings, unhealthy homes and ill people. Hemp is in the clear of VOC content.
Hemp wood stain may have a slight natural scent, which is a nice change form petroleum-derived paint products. This smell does not turn once applied. But used naturally, as a raw oil, hemp oil may take days to dry, and it may take multiple coats. None of that is useful to the home user.
In comparison, most high-quality commercial wood stains and wood sealers incorporate binders to help the stain dry, as well as additives to add other properties such as toughness and anti-fungicidal properties. The mix of these elements all help determine safety, performance, price and commercial acceptance.
Hemp Shield Seals the Deal
Hemp Shield Wood Finish and Deck Sealer, produced by long time hemp advocate Dave Seber of Oregon is an impressive advanced technical oil that takes hemp oil’s natural properties and formulates it into a product that can compete in the modern market. Seber developed the stain in collaboration with chemist Steve Niswander from Forrest Technical Coatings of Eugene, Oregon.
As a formulated oil, Hemp Shield takes the natural strength of hemp oil and makes it better performer. The result is a hybrid waterborne, oil-based finish and sealer that can be use both on interior and exterior surfaces including furniture. A single coat application, it has no odor and dries to the touch within a few hours and is totally dry within 24 hours. Since you never know what is in the wood, microbial resistance has been enhanced with non-formaldehyde-based biocides to prevent against mildew and fungus. Product testing has shown some happy synergies between hemp oil’s natural properties and its additive partners.
According to Seber, the oil competes incredibly well with mainstream products. A recent American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) test compared Hemp Shield to several competitors (Behr, Sikkens and Flood), using 4 different wood species. The test found that Hemp Shield dried as quickly as its best competitors, offered the same adhesion and freeze thaw durability. It was also judged to less likely to fail long term. By the eye test Hemp Shield offered the least change to wood appearance. With VOC evaluation. Hemp Shield was the huge winner, hands down.
As a green building product, Hemp Shield is eligible for LEED credit, due to its low-to-no VOC content and bio-based component sourcing.