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How To Treat Hemp Rope For Bondage (Guest Post)

Today I have a guest post from Tess, a rope artist who has supplied a significant amount of information on hemp rope and how to treat hemp rope in the comments on the best rope for bondage. Because not everybody reads the comments, I asked her permission to turn the information into a coherent post, so that more people will have the chance to see it and apply this knowledge when thinking about getting or treating hemp rope for bondage.  The pictures within this post were supplied by Tess (note: the featured photo shows hemp (top) and Moco jute (bottom) both processed the same way, on the same day. The hemp was washed first and has been used since; but look at the difference!)

 

(Tess) When thinking about different types of rope and what I would use for bondage, I have found that the best rope type depends a lot on what you want out of the rope. I started off with twisted nylon, which was fine but I got frustrated with the lack of friction pretty quickly, plus I lusted after the natural ropes (mostly jute) used in shibari- the bright white of the nylon never did much for me. Before long I found myself some VERY reasonably priced, very good quality jute on etsy (myNawashi, for anyone who’s curious). I processed it according to some instructions I found online and that was all I tied with for a while. I loved it, my partner loved it, we had some amazing sessions.

Well, I’m a sucker for exploring EVERYTHING about something, once I start, so I picked up a roll of hemp from Rawganique, processed that, and tried it out, and it was INCREDIBLE. Seriously, so much better than the jute. The rope is softer textured- it’s true that it wears in like a pair of jeans- and is more… relaxed than the jute. Even jute that has been used frequently is very firm and has some spring and stiffness to it- the hemp is more limp, for lack of a better word, and has more give in the rope (NOT stretch, just compresses more), which also means that it conforms a little more to the body of the bottom.

HOWEVER, this is a huge matter of taste and what you like to do with your rope! My partner and I only do floorwork and bedroom bondage (so far) and use rope mostly for restraint and pleasure. Neither of us is into “mean” rope or rope primarily for pain. My partner is more comfortable in the softer rope and I find it easier to create the kind of connection we both want with a gentler rope. It provides just as much restriction with a very different feel- someone who wants more pain or a tougher experience might prefer the jute, and someone who is into bondage photography DEFINITELY wants some jute- it photographs SO beautifully, and its sheen can’t be beat. Also, I’ve heard hemp unfavorably compared with jute, saying that the hemp feels “lifeless” in comparison. I’d say that is not an unreasonable comparison, but that it is not necessarily a bad thing- jute is springy and light and hemp is heavier and more relaxed.

My only complaint about hemp is how difficult it is to find cheap sources of prepared rope. Thankfully, it’s very easy to work your own up- Rawganique has a great raw product, and it doesn’t require a ton of work to prepare it. Don’t be afraid to try out different kinds of rope, especially if you’re just starting out. You may find that a different kind of rope provides something you didn’t know you were missing!

How I Treated My Hemp

My first batch, I followed this process and got a VERY soft rope that is pretty heavy:

-Unroll the length from the spool, working slowly and picking out woody bits and stems as you go
-Cut the rope into lengths that will fit into lingerie bags (I had a 1kg roll and cut it into two pieces)
-Run through a machine wash with Oxyclean. I ran this batch through twice because I wasn’t sure about the smell, and all the guides I read said that boiling or washing thoroughly should lessen the smell. ***Put your rope in a monkey braid or something first! Makes life much easier later***
-Run the batch through a dry cycle on the dryer.
-Take the rope out and dry under tension. I just wrapped it around a garment rack. Stretch it out as you go. I happened to not be able to get back to it for a week, but a day or so should make sure it’s completely dry.
-Pull the rope against itself through a carabiner or ring. There are a million instructions online how to do this.
-Closely examine the rope and remove any more hard bits. Use tweezers if necessary. It also helps to untwist the lines of the rope if you find one that’s wrapped around in the strands
-Singe the fuzzies off. I use my gas grill. There are also a million instructions online for this.
-Oil or wax to your specs. I used the same jojoba oil/beeswax blend I used on my jute, and it turned out too waxy, but worked in just fine after a few uses.
-Finish the ends to your preference- I did sailmaker’s whipping using embroidery floss (I color-code my lengths and when I prep ropes for people I play with) and it has not budged at all, but knots would be just fine, too, if you like.

I’m in the process of working my next batch and this is how I’m changing it- I’ll keep you posted when I see how it comes out… (see below for the update)
-I didn’t wash it at all this time! I’ve come to like the smell of the natural help, and the smell wasn’t very strong on this batch, apparently it varies from batch to batch.
-I am going to use only jojoba oil and no beeswax.

I’m expecting a rope that is a little stiffer, possibly a little scratchier, and quite a bit lighter without the beeswax.

Important Notes:

-Some guides you’ll find recommend boiling your hemp for anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. DON’T! It’s not necessary and will result in a rope that might be softer than you want and is significantly weaker than what you started with.
-Go over your rope carefully several times to pull out the hard bits.
-Be very careful when adding oil or wax. It’s easy to over-wax and hard to get rid of the extra quickly. Hemp doesn’t need very much at all.

 

Update on my latest batch: as suspected, my processing on this one resulted in rope that is slightly stiffer and scratchier than before and a little lighter.  Still not as stiff or light as new jute, tho.  I have noticed that there seem to be more poky bits in this rope than the last batch of rope- that may be just the batch or it may be a result of the processing, I don’t know.  The oil finish on the rope feels MUCH nicer than oil/beeswax- it conditions and smooths it without sitting on the surface of the rope like the wax did.

The below picture shows three different treatments of hemp; the top wrap is from my first batch and has been used for the last three months; it’s fuzzier than the other two, and there’s still some wax on the surface; you can tell because the twists are not clearly defined. The middle wrap is the same batch of hemp, but unused. Less fuzzy, and the twists appear matted because of the wax. The bottom wrap and the cinches are from my new batch – unwashed, jojoba oil, and no beeswax. The twists are much more clearly defined.

Note from Pete: 

This post has barely been edited at all; most of what I did is simply reorganize the information into one coherent post to make it more readable. For those who are interested in picking up hemp rope without having to deal with the treating process, Twisted Monk is a pretty reputable retailer and has a pretty big selection of different colors, etc. I’m eyeing up some of his stuff at the moment, because I’m wondering what it would be like to tie with.

As you can see, all of you out there have really useful and interesting information to contribute which can help others; and for those of you who contribute, I want you to know that you’re helping all sorts of people to learn new and useful stuff! The number of people viewing and reading the information is growing all the time; each month there is an increase in the number of visits and views,  so remember, what you contribute is going to help a lot of others, and they will be grateful to you because of it.

Happy tying!

5 thoughts on “How To Treat Hemp Rope For Bondage (Guest Post)

  1. Very helpful and interesting read for a newbie here. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You are so welcome! I’m so glad it was helpful!

      Treating your own rope is really fun, and a great way to learn how your rope moves and feels- and the raw materials needed are pretty cheap.

  2. Thank you both for these posts!! Nic, this is a great site with so much info I didn’t even know I needed! Newbie here…as in I haven’t even bought any rope, much less used it (or had it used on me, I should say.) My boyfriend & I are just starting out…excited for the possibilities. We have much to learn! Thank you, thank you!

    1. You’re welcome, Mira! It’s honestly a pleasure 🙂

    2. I still consider myself new to rope- I’ve been at this only about 6 months. I’m finding that it’s a really exciting hobby, and a great way to connect with people, both those you already know well and new people. Enjoy, and you are so welcome!

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