Clever marketing has duped us into thinking we must have single use items in our households at all times. Plastic cling wrap is one of these items.
Consumers buy it over and over again – wasting their money and polluting the environment.
Considering plastic has only been around for approximately 60 years, it’s disturbing how indoctrinated the general public are into handing over recurring amounts of money for an unnecessary single use item.
Thankfully, there is an alternative.
Beeswax Wrap Usage
Beeswax wraps are an eco-friendly alternative that can be used in the same way as plastic cling wrap.
They have the same ability as plastic cling wrap to create a waterproof, slightly tacky layer to keep your food fresh.
It’s as easy as placing a beeswax wrap over a container. Then, using the warmth of your hands press the beeswax wrap to the sides of the container. Due to the tackiness of the fabric, it will stick to the container.
Just like plastic cling wrap but without the toxic chemicals, beeswax wraps can be used to directly cover items of food. Think sandwiches, cut up vegetables, cheese and fruit.
Beeswax wraps can be used repeatedly for approximately one year. And, as they are made of completely natural materials you can put them in the compost when they are no longer effective.
After each usage, simply wipe clean with a mild detergent and cold water and allow to dry.
Items Not Suitable for Beeswax Wraps
As beeswax wraps are cleaned with cold soapy water it’s not recommended that they are used to cover raw meat – use a sealed container instead.
It’s also not a good idea to use beeswax wraps to cover pet food in the fridge – again use a container. Or use aluminium foil which can be put in the recycling bin after use.
If you use a beeswax wrap in the microwave the beeswax will melt ruining your wrap and your food. Cover your food with a plate, or a fabric item such as a serviette which can be washed in your next load of laundry. I don’t recommend using paper towel as it is another wasteful single use item.
Making Beeswax Wraps
Beeswax wraps are very time consuming to make. You’ll need to pre-prepare the fabric and then set aside at least half a day if making a small a batch of wraps.
Although it’s time consuming, I find the process of making beeswax wraps almost meditative and there’s a joy in the completion of a handmade product.
Whilst they will take time to make, you’ll end up with many beeswax wraps you can use at home, give away as gifts, sell or barter for goods and services.
The ingredients below will make 18 small, 18 medium and 9 large beeswax wraps.
For a lesser amount of wraps, halving the ingredients will provide for 9 small, 9 medium and 4 large beeswax wraps.
- Cotton fabric such as quilting material
- 500g Beeswax
- 200g Food grade pine rosin
- 60ml Jojoba oil
- Baking tray
- Paint brush
- Clothes horse/drying rack
The best fabric for a beeswax wrap is a thin cotton such as quilting material. Other natural fibres are okay as well, however thicker fabrics such as linen will require more of the beeswax coating.
It’s important to only use fabric with natural fibres as beeswax wraps are an eco-friendly compostable item.
Synthetic fabrics may ruin all your effort as they could burn, brown at the edges or curl when placed in the oven during the process of making a beeswax wrap. They are also not compostable.
Unfortunately, buying quilting fabric can be very expensive.
In an effort to save money and to recycle resources, I’ve purchased bags of quilting fabric left overs from Facebook Buy, Swap and Sell groups.
I’ve also asked family and friends if they had any cotton fabric they no longer needed. If they did, I’d do a deal where I’d swap their fabric for some of my beeswax wraps.
Opportunity shops are another great place to source cotton fabric at an affordable price. I’ve been able to purchase cotton tablecloths, cotton cot sheets and cotton scrap fabrics for a fraction of the price of new.
After you’ve sourced your fabric, it will need to be washed, dried and ironed. Once all this is done the fabric is ready to cut out.
Cutting The Fabric
I find it easiest to cut the fabric with a rotary cutter using a steel right angle ruler on a cutting board. If I can get the pattern on the fabric positioned correctly, it’s possible to cut a few layers at the same time using a rotary cutter.
However, if you don’t have this equipment you could use a ruler to draw a cutting line and cut with scissors.
The sizing is as follows:
- Small – 20 cm by 20 cm
- Medium – 35 cm by 25 cm
- Large – 40 cm by 33cm
Preparing The Beeswax Mixture
This mixture recipe contains three ingredients:
- Beeswax to create a waterproof layer
- Pine rosin to give the wrap its tackiness
- Jojoba oil to keep the fabric soft
Place the beeswax, food grade pine rosin and jojoba oil into a double boiler.
If you haven’t used a double boiler before it’s a bowl placed on top of a pot of simmering water. The bowl doesn’t touch the water, it’s the steam from the simmering water which gently heats the bowl.
It could take up to an hour for all the ingredients to properly melt and combine. You’ll know when the mixture is ready because when you stir it, it will be a smooth consistency.
You could experiment by using only beeswax on your wrap – this will result in a waterproof layer with no tackiness. It’s still a perfectly good wrap, however you’ll need to tie the wrap to the container with string.
Another option is to not use the jojoba oil. The wrap will be stiffer yet still have tackiness.
Or you could replace the jojoba oil with coconut oil. Personally, I haven’t attempted using coconut oil. The reviews recommend coconut oil as a cheaper alternative to jojoba oil.
Applying The Beeswax Mixture
Ensure you have the oven pre-heated to 180 degrees Celsius.
Place your prepared fabric onto a flat baking tray and with a paint brush apply a thin even layer of the beeswax mixture. Too little and the fabric will have portions without the waterproof layer, too much and the beeswax mixture will pool into yellow puddles. Practise makes perfect.
I grabbed a cheap paint brush from the hardware store as eventually the glue which holds the bristles in the brush will give way due to the constant heat of the beeswax mixture.
You won’t want to buy expensive paint brushes if you’ll need to replace them often.
I recommend buying paint brushes with wooden handles as they are more eco-friendly than the plastic handled brushes.
After the beeswax mixture has been applied, place the tray with the fabric on it in the oven for 30 to 60 seconds. The heat from the oven helps even out the beeswax ensuring a thorough coverage.
Take the tray out of the oven and carefully pick up the hot waxy fabric by the outer most edges. Carefully drape over a clothes horse until the wax has cooled and set.
If you are selling your wraps or giving them away as gifts, it’s a good idea to take some time figuring out how to present your wraps.
Have a look online and you’ll find some really lovely folding techniques for beeswax wraps. Searching on the Internet for serviette folds will also help with ideas. It’s how I found a folding technique I liked for my wraps.
You could go one step further and create a label for your beeswax wraps.
Because my aim is to be as eco-friendly as possible, I decided to staple my labels together instead of using plastic sticky tape. Sometimes it’s the finer details that matter.
Beeswax wraps are a much healthier alternative to plastic cling wrap. It’s better for you and better for the environment.
You’ll also save money by not buying plastic cling wrap as it is a single use item which requires you to buy it over and over again.
If you don’t have the equipment, skills or time to make your own beeswax wraps, there are plenty of places you can buy them already made.
The online shop Biome sell a variety of beeswax wraps. They can also be found in health food stores and farmer’s markets.
Love making eco-friendly products? Check out on my blog on making your own produce bags.
What’s been your experience with beeswax wraps?