Homemade Beeswax Wraps:
When we started reducing our household waste one of the first things to go from the kitchen was cling film or plastic wrap.
Some people say that chemicals in the plastic wrapping can be potentially harmful to humans but the main reason for us to stop using it was that it’s a single use product that we can live without.
Aluminium foil was my first idea for a replacement and although I used to wash it and reuse it until it fell apart it still ended up in the bin. Unfortunately, our local recycling bins don’t take aluminium foil.
As we now know, whether via incineration, landfill or ending up in nature, single use plastic products have a negative impact on the environment.
The most popular replacement on the market is beeswax or plant based wax wraps. With wax wraps there is less environmental impact, as they can be refreshed when they get older and are ultimately compostable.
For me beeswax wraps seem to be the best plastic free alternative for covering food, wrapping sandwiches, cheese and vegetables.
Initially I decided to buy some ‘bee’s wraps’ after seeing them in our local zero waste store and remember being shocked at how expensive they were. After using my wraps for a while and getting used to them I realised that I needed some bigger ones.
I saw on Instagram that people were making their own so, after finding some beeswax bars, I decided to give it a go.
Rather than buying new fabric for this I found some of Amelie’s old cotton clothes that were too shabby to donate and an old baby blanket.
For my first attempt I thought I’d use a small blender to grate the wax instead of doing by hand. This was a bad idea as the grains of wax were too small and it took me a long time to clean the blender.
After hand grating the wax and some trial & error I successfully turned Amelie’s old dress into two beeswax wraps.
How do you use Beeswax Wraps?
Just wrap them around your food item or place them over the top of a bowl and use your hands to mold them around the edges – the warmth of your hands helps to create a seal.
You can use them in the fridge and even the freezer but you’ll need to
let them defrost slightly before unwrapping frozen items.
It’s better to avoid directly wrapping greasy food and acidic items such as pineapple and citrus fruits. Also, stronger smelling cheeses and vegetables may leave a slight smell but washing and airing eliminates the odor.
For food safety reasons raw meat, poultry & fish should never come into direct contact with your wraps as potential cross contamination can occur.
The main thing to remember is that they are NOT heat resistant so need to be washed in cool water. Therefore, hot food also needs to be cooled before wrapping or covering.
You can always add some extra wax if you do accidentally expose them to too much heat.
Over time they will crease and stain but as long as you clean them properly they can last for a year.
With constant use you may also need to refresh your wraps. You can do this by either heating them in the oven on a very low heat, with a hair dryer or in the sun.
How to make beeswax wraps:
- Beeswax Blocks or Beads
- Cheese Grater
- Cotton or Hemp Fabric
- Baking Paper
- Baking Tray
Wash and dry your fabric then cut into the sized pieces you want. I’ve only made square ones but circular ones also work well for bowls and jars.
I used 2½ blocks of beeswax to make these 3 wraps (30x35cm 28x23cm 26x22cm). They are random sizes but i wanted to get the most out of the fabric i had.
Preheat the oven to 120ºC (250ºF) and line your baking tray with baking paper. I use ‘soft impact’ baking paper from Ah! Table, and place your fabric on top.
Grate your beeswax block using a cheese grater or sprinkle your wax beads until your fabric is evenly covered. Make sure to place enough wax around the edges for maximum coverage.
Place your tray in the preheated oven and leave for 5 minutes, or until wax has fully melted.
Once the wax has melted remove from the oven and using your brush carefully make sure the wax is evenly spread, especially to the edges.
If needed you can add more wax and pop back in the oven to make sure all of the fabric is covered.
Remove your wrap from the tray and either hang it or place it on another sheet of baking paper for at least 1 minute until dry. Make sure your wraps have cooled completely before using them.
You can also trim the edges again to straighten them or to cut off any small areas not coated (in the image above you can see that the large wrap needs more wax on the top edge).
Remember to keep your baking paper for your next round of wraps.
A few things to bear in mind:
Clean your wraps using a gentle soap with cool water and wash lightly with a brush, dishcloth or sponge.
If the water is too hot the wax will begin to melt off.
Avoid using strong cleaning products.
Hang them to dry naturally or just blot them with a clean towel.
Store them rolled to avoid excess creases – personally I like the aged look.