How to Make Your Own Environmentally Friendly Beeswax Food Wraps
For this week’s blog post I thought I’d take a small break from all the wedding DIYs and focus on something that I’ve been wanting to make for ages now. It’s both practical and environmentally friendly!
For anyone that spends an amount of time in the kitchen, these wraps are a must have! Maybe your morning routine includes wrapping up sandwiches, fruit and other snacks for your kid's lunchboxes? Or maybe you often follow a recipe that requires you to use half an item, and you’re then stuck with how to store/cover the other half until you need it? Do you settle for the easy single use plastic wrap and then suffer guilt as you hear daily in the media how bad throw-away plastic is? This is the cycle I go through, and I’m sure I can’t be alone in this!
I’ve been searching for a re-usable eco-friendly food wrap equivalent for a little while now, but here’s the thing, in shops most options retail for about £15 which to me seems super pricey. Especially, and I’m sorry to say it (enter more guilt!), when you can buy a box of cling film in your local supermarket for a couple of quid.
As I always do when I want something and don’t want to splurge, I began looking for a DIY option. So in this blog post I’m going to talk you through making your very own eco-friendly and re-usable beeswax food wraps.
It’s worth noting that these wraps aren’t airtight so are unsuitable for storing items such as chicken but for vegetables and snacks they are ideal!
What you will need
Beeswax. Make sure the beeswax you purchase is of cosmetic grade - this means it isn’t going to be harmful when in contact with your food. I used a white beeswax which can be purchased from Amazon here.
Pine Resin. I purchased a pre-powder option from eBay which is available here. Alternatively you could purchase a block of resin like this from Amazon and grind the amount you require into a powder for your wraps. The addition of pine resin gives the finished wraps a slightly ‘tacky’ feel and helps them to stick to themselves when wrapping items or placed over a bowl etc.
Coconut Oil. This is to make the wraps pliable and more easily moulded into a shape. You can get both solid and liquid (fractionated) coconut oil. As the recipe required all the ingredients to be melted together one isn’t necessarily better than the other. I used a fractionated option which is available on Amazon here. Other alternatives if you don’t fancy coconut oil would be jojoba oil or almond oil.
Squares of cotton fabric. This is an exciting bit as you can choose any pattern you like and is ideal if you have scraps left over from other projects! Alternatively you can usually buy small samples of materials online from fabric sellers for around 99p or try ‘fat quarters’ from places like Hobbycraft etc. I went for a mix of kitchen based designs (some with chickens on and some with fruit, spots, florals, christmas patterns and even a Disney Mickey Mouse wrap as I found some spare fabric! This is a really great opportunity to make then fun and quirky. Ideal if you have picky kiddies that would love to show their school friends their new dinosaur lunch wrap!
Spoon for stirring the mixture.
Baking tray and grease-proof paper to cover it.
A Paint brush. One you don’t mind getting waxy and potentially being only suitable for making future wraps afterwards!
Note: You’ll notice that I haven’t included quantities for the beeswax, oil and resin items. This is because it is completely dependent on the quantity of wraps you want to make. I also found that it wasn’t critical for the ingredients to be exactly measured. To give you a guide on quantities though I used roughly 3 parts beeswax to 2 part resin and 1 part of oil. So for example 90g beeswax, 60g resin and 30g coconut oil. If you make excess mixture you can allow it to cool and store the solid mixture for future wraps.
Step One - Preparing your Fabric
There isn’t a perfect size for making these wraps. It really depends on what you are wanting to wrap. If they’re for a small lunch snack like some grapes or nuts then a 20cm x 20cm square might suffice. For larger wraps, for example to be used to cover a mixing bowl, you might require a larger 35cm x 35cm wrap. I cut a range of different size squares when making my wraps so I could choose the most appropriate size for what I needed.
Step Two - Preparing the Oven.
Turn on the oven to around 130°C and allow it to pre-heat. Line your baking tray(s) with grease-proof paper and place your cotton squares on top. Make sure the grease-proof paper is larger than the cotton sheet. If you are working with a large cotton sheet then you can fold it gently in half to allow it to fit on the paper.
Step Three - Make your Wax Mixture.
Measure out the beeswax, coconut (or alternative) oil and pine resin and combine them in your Pyrex jug. Place a saucepan of water (while the water is still cool) onto a stove and add the jug and ingredients. Gently bring the pan to a simmer, stirring the ingredients constantly to avoid them sticking to the base of the jug or burning. It’s important to make sure that the water is not too hot and boiling over. When the ingredients have fully melted the hob can be turned off, the warm water will keep the mixture in a liquid state.
Step Four - Coat your Wraps
Using the paintbrush, roughly spread the melted mixture across your cotton squares. Be careful not to apply too much mixture or your wraps will become overly saturated. The mixture will cool as you spread it over the fabric so don’t panic if this seems a bit messy or uneven. Place the painted wraps into the oven for 30 seconds to a minute. Just long enough for the mixture to liquidise again. Take the wraps out of the oven and use the paintbrush to spread the excess wax mixture to any areas of the cotton which were missed initially. Then place the tray back into the oven briefly (30 seconds to a minute again) before removing and allowing the coated cotton to dry.
When your wrap is dry it should feel slightly waxy, slightly tacky and be easily folded and flexed. Check if you’ve got the consistency right by doing a trial run on a bowl or wrapping up some fruit. If it holds in place and sticks to itself and the object, such as the bowl, then you’ve got it right! If it isn’t quite there you can always reheat and as a little extra oil, resin or wax on top and leave it in the oven to melt once more.
Note: You shouldn’t be able to see any excess wax on the surface of the cotton sheet. If you can it is likely that you’ve used too much mixture. Pop the sheet back in the oven for 30 seconds to a minute and follow the steps below to remove the excess.
What to do if you coat your cotton with too much of the wax mixture?
Option 1 - Place another cotton square over the top of your saturated one. Place both pieces of cotton into the oven and as the wax melts the new cotton sheet will soak up the excess mixture. If your second sheet isn’t fully coated after this stage or your first sheet is still looking overly waxy, you can flip both cotton sheets (so the next sheet is now on the bottom and place them back into the oven briefly. Gravity will help the wax find its way to the new fabric square.
Option 2 - Pour the excess back into your jug. Place your sheet with the excess wax back into the oven, as you have done previously. When the wax has melted remove the sheet and carefully tilt the tray over your mixture jug to drain any excess wax away. Be very careful with this method as your wax sheet and oven tray will be hot! Make sure you use suitable heat proof oven gloves.
Step Five - Aftercare
Your wraps can be used time and time again. To ensure they last as long as possible, wash them in cool water and gently rub away any mess. Don’t use hot water as if might melt your wax away! Once clean, leave them to dry naturally.
If you have made excess mixture don’t panic! You haven’t wasted it. The mixture can be stored at room temperature so place it into an airtight tub or bag and it will remain useful for your next batch of wraps when they’re due!
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