Hemp and linen fibers are basically interchangeable - there is hardly a distinction between flax and hemp. In fact, hemp fibers resemble flax so much that a high performance microscope is needed to detect the difference. Without microscopic or chemical examination, the fibers can only be distinguished by the direction in which they twist when wetted: hemp turns counterclockwise, Flax, clockwise. In general, they tend to have the same characteristics.
Both linen and hemp become soft and supple by handling, gaining elegance and creating a liquid cloth.
Hemp and linen are both very strong fibers - although most sources say hemp is stronger (up to 8 times) than linen (although the real winner is spider silk), but this point is due to the variables involved in spinning the fiber yarn and then weave into tissue. The lifetime of hemp is the longest of all natural fibers.
- Both hemp and linen fold easily.
- Hemp and linen absorb moisture. The moisture retention of hemp is slightly more (12%) than linen (10 - 12%)
- Hemp and linen are breathable.
- Both hemp and linen are natural insulators: both have hollow fibers, which means that they are cool in summer and warm in winter.
- Both hemp and linen have antibacterial properties.
- Both hemp and linen benefit from washing and become softer and brighter with every wash.
- Both hemp and linen are resistant to moths and other insects.
- Both hemp and linen easily absorb dyes.
- Both hemp and linen are biodegraded.
- In general, hemp fiber bundles are longer than flax. The first point of differentiation is thus: the length of the fibers. Hemp fibers vary between 4 and 7 feet in length, while linen is generally 1.5 to 3 feet in length. Other differences:
- The color of the flax fibers is described as yellowish to gray and hemp as yellowish-gray to dark brown.
- Hemp is highly resistant to rot, mold, mold and saltwater.
- Hemp is also very resistant to ultraviolet light, so it does not fade or decompose in the sunlight.
- Hemp's elastic recovery is very poor and less than linen; it expands less than any other natural fiber.