DIY Beeswax Food Wraps
Beeswax wraps are a sustainable alternative to plastic cling wrap, and a great way to reduce plastic waste in the kitchen. Even better, it’s incredibly easy to make your own.
Beeswax wraps are pieces of fabric that have been coated in pure beeswax – sometimes along with a few other ingredients like jojoba oil and tree resin. They are mouldable, slightly sticky, and used to protect, seal, or package food. Furthermore, beeswax wraps are reusable, non-toxic, and biodegradable.
Beeswax has natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, so they’re quite sanitary! This study confirmed that food wrap products containing beeswax are effective at preventing food spoilage and inhibit the spread of harmful food-borne bacteria. However, be sure to follow the best practices to keep them clean (described at the end of this blog post). The combination of beeswax and cloth creates a breathable food wrap that locks in moisture, keeps food fresh longer, but also allows it to naturally breathe. Because they are made with natural beeswax, the wraps do smell a bit like… well, beeswax. My kids and I don’t find this to be an issue but my partner isn't a fan so instead of using plastic wrap, he goes without sandwiches lol.
What kind of fabric should I use to make a beeswax wrap?
It is best to use 100% cotton, hemp or linen fabric to make homemade beeswax wraps. Organic or re-used fabric is all the better! Natural fabrics like cotton will readily soak up the beeswax right into its fibres. In contrast I trialled a blended synthetic fabric that contained polyester or nylon when creating images for this blog and found it did not absorb the beeswax as easily. The beeswax remained more on the surface of the fabric which I think will eventually flake off – so stick to 100% cotton when you make your own.
It is best to make homemade beeswax wraps with a thin to medium-weight fabric: something similar to the thickness of a t-shirt, pillowcase, or tea towel – not thick and fuzzy like flannel.
- Prepare the fabric
- If you haven’t already, wash and dry your chosen fabric as needed.
- Cut the fabric into desired shapes and sizes of your choice
- If you’re feeling especially crafty, you could hem the cut edges of the fabric with a sewing machine. Another option is to cut the fabric with pinking shears to reduce fraying. The wax itself will also slow fraying so this step isn't super important.
- Your homemade beeswax wraps don’t need to be square! They can be rectangular or even cut into circles.
- Prepare for oven
- Preheat oven to the 150 degrees C
- Line a baking tray with baking paper
- Lay the piece/s of fabric on top. You should be able to fit a couple small to medium size beeswax wraps per baking sheet, or one larger one.
- Paint a very light coverage of jojoba or fractionated coconut oil over your fabric. The smallest amount is required, you will find it will spread when the beeswax is melted and distributed when you use your paint brush after it has come out of the oven.
- Sprinkle beeswax pellets evenly over the surface. Be sure to get some near the edges of the fabric too!
- See picture below to determine how much is required.
- Melt & spread the beeswax
- Place the baking sheet with wax-sprinkled fabric in the warm oven for about 5 minutes, or until the beeswax is fully melted and has soaked into the fabric.
- Once melted, remove the tray from the oven. Do the next steps quickly. The wax may start to harden if you work too slow, but you can always put them back in the oven to re-melt if needed and then continue.
- Run a paint brush back and forth across the fabric to evenly spread the melted wax, dispersing any pooled/heavy spots towards the edges.
- While still wet and pliable, hang immediately to dry.
Cleaning homemade beeswax wraps
Wash your homemade beeswax wraps with cold to lukewarm water and mild soap, such as castle soap. Avoid using hot water since it can melt the wax. You can also wipe them down with a damp cloth. Allow the wraps to air dry and then store them in a cool, dry place. Once ours are fully dry, we simply fold them up and tuck them in a kitchen drawer.
Homemade beeswax wraps should withstand several years of use. Once they become old, thin, and/or less sticky, it is easy to refresh them! Simply tuck the old wraps back in the warm oven with a small sprinkle of beeswax to provide a fresh new coating and lease on life. If they’re really old and beat up, you could simply compost them. Since they’re made from 100% natural materials, beeswax wraps are biodegradable.
I would love to know what you thought of these. I still haven't quite worked up to trusting these to store meat or dairy products, simple due to the fact that the cleaning would have to be pretty thorough but for everything else i have found them to be wonderful.
Let me know your thoughts - firstname.lastname@example.org