How to Treat Hemp Rope

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Things You'll Need

  • Hemp rope

  • Warm water

  • Large metal pan

  • Wooden spoon

  • Washing machine

  • Detergent

  • Stove

  • Dryer or clothesline

  • Metal pole or bar

  • Jojoba oil

  • Rough rag

You can soften hemp rope by treating it.

Hemp fiber, derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, is a durable material that is stronger and softer than cotton, lasts twice as long, and will not mildew. Using hemp fibers, you can create a rope that is reasonably soft with high enough friction to hold a knot securely. Like most natural fiber ropes, a hemp rope will be fairly rough when untreated, but after a thorough treatment process, will become softer and remain just as durable for a myriad of uses.


Step 1

Coil your hemp rope loosely and place it in a large metal pan. Fill the bucket with enough warm water to cover the rope completely. Pre-soaking it will speed the treatment process and remove odors from the rope. You may notice that, as the water soaks into the rope, it becomes twisted and sticks out from the water; so prod it with a wooden spoon to ensure that all fibers become saturated.


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Step 2

Remove the rope from the water and wash it in a standard washing machine on a delicate cycle with a minimal amount of detergent -- about half the amount you would use in a standard load.

Step 3

Remove the cleaned rope from the washing machine, place it in a large metal pan, and fill the pan with warm water again. Cover the pan, and then bring the rope and water to a rolling boil. Once the water boils, reduce the heat and let it simmer for three hours. Allow the rope to completely cool before handling it, which usually takes about 12 hours or so.


Step 4

Drain the water and remove the rope from the pan. Place the rope in a tumble dryer on medium heat for one or two cycles, or until the rope is completely dry. If the rope seems stiff, it isn't completely dry. You may have to clean the filter midway through the first or second drying cycle, as ropes tend to produce a large amount of lint. If you do not have a dryer, simply hang the rope over a clothesline and allow it to air dry completely.


Step 5

Check the rope to ensure it is completely dry. Then throw the rope over a horizontal metal bar or pole and simultaneously pull on both ends over and over to stretch it back out again. This will also serve to soften the outside of the rope and break up the fibers inside.

Step 6

Singe the rope by carefully holding it about 6 inches over an open stove top flame on a low to medium setting. This will burn off any excess, straw-like pieces of fiber that stick out from the rope's coils.


Step 7

Repeat the washing, boiling and drying process to ensure that all soot and debris have been removed. Pull or stretch the rope out once it completely dries again to return it to its former length and shape.

Step 8

Apply the jojoba oil to a rough rag, and work the rag up and down the rope to distribute it evenly. This will smooth the fibers out and protect the rope from wear and tear. Do not use vegetable oil to treat the rope, as it will eventually go rancid.


Store the rope in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

If the rope gets dirty, wash it again in a washing machine and allow it to air dry. Do not dry oil-treated rope in a gas dryer.

Mink oil is an acceptable, though more expensive, alternative to jojoba oil.


When burning off the excess fibers, be careful not to place the rope too closely to the flames, or you risk catching it on fire. Have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher close by for emergencies.


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