For ages I’ve been meaning to make my own beeswax wraps but not yet tried it. So on my week off I finally had some time (there are benefits to not going away and heading off each day for trips out) to try making them. As well as the challenge, I was also keen to use less foil and cling film wrap for food. Silicone covers are great, but you’re limited by size, and they can be pricing if you need a lot of different ones. Beeswax wraps I could customise to exactly the size or types I need.
I’d already done my research a while back on the different methods. I liked the idea of the ironing version but decided as the Aga is on go slow at the moment, it would be easy just to heat the beeswax in there instead.
What are beeswax wraps?
If you’ve never come across beeswax wraps, they’re an alternative to using cling film or foil to cover and wrap food. They’re wipe clean (or just run under the cold tap), and reusable. Once they lose their stickiness you can just pep them up again to get more use out. After they’ve really died, you should be able to compost them as it’s just cotton material and natural materials.
I’m all for trying out little things to help become a bit more sustainable, although I do think there are some things I’ll still use foil for (mainly covering hot pans of leftovers where I don’t have a big enough pan lid, as you can’t get the wraps hot otherwise they’ll start to melt the wax. I also wouldn’t send N into school with them wrapping snacks or a packed lunch because I wouldn’t trust him not to lose them (he has naked lunchboxes to avoid using single wrap film). But I can certainly reduce my use of single use wraps and foil substantially by using a mix of these beeswax wraps and silicone lids.
You can buy beeswax wraps, but they can be quite expensive, especially as you’re going to need a few – or more if your whole family is going to use them in lunchboxes. For a little bit of cotton fabric and some beeswax (plus jojoba oil if you want to use that as well), you can make wraps to fit the sizes you need. And have them unique to you.
What are the benefits of beeswax wraps
- Sustainable and biodegradable. They’re all natural and will replace the use of single use plastics and foil
- Mouldable – they can wrap food or cover bowls or plates of different sizes
- Hygienic – they can be washed in cold water. Although you shouldn’t use them for dairy or meats in case
- Breathable – it protects the food and helps it last longer, but is also breathable.
- Long lasting – you can refresh them every couple of months if they use their stickiness, and will last up to a year of looking after them.
What you need to make beeswax wraps
- 100% cotton fabric – cut to the size you want, prewashed if new.
- Beeswax (food grade) – I bought chips as they’re easier to tip over and melt. But you can buy blocks and grate the beeswax
- Optional – pine resin (this helps with making them sticky, but isn’t essential
- Optional – jojoba or coconut oil (helps make them pliable, not essential
Old baking tray
Depending on the method – a double boiler – saucepan and old bowl
These will need to be kept for this purpose only as the wax is hard to remove. Remember you’re putting the wax on the correct side of the fabric only.
The Baking Method for beeswax food wraps
1, Iron the cotton fabric, then place on a layer of greaseproof paper on a baking tray.
2, Tip the beeswax onto the fabric. Don’t add too much all at once otherwise it’ll leak all off the sides and make a lot of mess and spare wax. You can always add more later, or use a brush to distribute it better. Make sure you do have some around the edges of the fabric as well (I used too much in these photos)
3, Put into the oven on as low a temperature as you can (50-75C is good) for a couple of minutes until the beeswax has melted.
4, You’ll see where it’s melted the fabric goes translucent. Any gaps you can add more beeswax and pop it in the oven again.
5, Use a brush to get rid of any excess, but it does set fast, hence why don’t totally cover the fabric at once (I know from experience!)
6, Remove the wrap from the paper quickly with tongs – it’ll cool really fast, and hang it over something to totally dry – over a coat-hanger, oven handle, clothes horse. Whatever you have to hand.
Then it’s ready to use.
The ironing method of making beeswax wraps
Another easy method although slightly more risk of damaging the iron! I read somewhere you could over the iron with foil to protect it although I didn’t try it.
You need the same beeswax and 100% cotton fabric of choice. An iron (turn the steam setting off) and set it to medium heat.
1, Set up the fabric on top of a large piece of greaseproof paper.
2, Sprinkle over the beeswax (again start smaller, or do it in stages)
Lay another piece of greaseproof paper on top.
3, Iron over the paper in sections. Be careful because the paper does have a tendency to move around and you want to avoid getting wax on your iron. The wax will come out of the side of the fabric, so you want a large overhang of paper.
4, Once the fabric is translucent all over, remove it from the paper and hang up to fully dry/cool.
If you’re struggling with a lot of excess wax everywhere, or would rather have more control, you can melt the beeswax (along with pine resin and oil if using) in a bain marie (or double boiler). Put it in a heatproof bowl, over but not touching a pan of simmering water. Wait until it melts, and stir, then use a paintbrush (or old pastry brush) to pain the wax mixture over the fabric.
I left my wraps plain, but you can make them into little sandwich pouches with a fastening, or specific sizes to wrap different things.
To refresh your reusable wraps if they’re losing their ability to stick, you can just put them back in the oven on a tray again for a few minutes.
Do you use beeswax food wraps? Have you tried making your own?