Beeswax Wraps

You might have heard the buzz about beeswax wraps. The little fabric squares are taking the world of sustainable living by storm. These wraps allow you to eliminate plastic wrap, produce bags, and sandwich bags in your every day routine. They are made from cotton fabric that has been coated in a waxy solution made from either beeswax or any other natural, food grade wax, blended with a shelf-stable, food grade oil, and sticky pine resin. The wraps become pliable when handled, and can be formed around jar lids, over plates and bowls, or folded around produce, cheese, or sandwiches. The wraps can be cleaned by rinsing them with warm water and mild soap. They can’t be exposed to heat, harsh substances or raw meats, but when cared for properly, wraps will last about a year before they need to be “re-seasoned” with a bit of extra beeswax.

There are a number of great local vendors who sell these wraps, but if you’re in to DIY, they are easy to make! Last weekend we set up demo stations at the Guelph Farmer’s Market and the Guelph Public Library. We were able to make over 65 wraps with community members, while talking about the sustainable initiatives at the Guelph Tool Library and beyond.

We’d like the share the recipe and technique we used. All of the equipment required for this method is available in a kit from the Guelph Tool Library.

Tools required:
Crock pot (or double boiler – but it’s tough to keep the temp consistent)
Heat gun (optional, but helps keep the wax melted)
Tongs and/or tweezers (2 pair)
Cheese grater
Spoon
Pinking shears (optional, regular scissors work fine)
Parchment paper
Iron and ironing board/pad

Ingredients:

Beeswax or other food-grade wax 100 grams
Oil (coconut, almond, jojoba, flax, apricot kernel oil all work well – must be shelf stable and food grade) 20 grams
Pine Resin (optional, but helps make the wraps extra sticky!) 20 grams
100% Cotton, lightweight woven fabric (old, clean bedsheets are perfect!)

The recipe can be scaled to any amount using these ratios. This will make about 10 medium sized wraps.

Begin by grating the beeswax in to the crock pot and letting it melt. Add in the oil and pine resin. To speed up the melting process, use a heat gun on low – keep it moving around so that the wax doesn’t melt to quickly. When everything is melted, give it a stir to incorporate. Cover your work surface in parchment paper.

Cut your fabric to the desired size. 6×6″ is good for small snacks, ends of cut produce, or pieces of cheese. 9×9″ up to 12×12″ is ideal for herbs, sandwiches, or over the end of bread loaves. Larger sheets are difficult to handle in the crock pot, but we’ll provide an alternative method below.

Working with one piece of fabric at a time, use a pair of tongs or tweezers in each hand to submerge the fabric in to the wax. Lift the fabric out of the pot, allowing excess wax to drip off. Carefully transfer the wrap over to your parchment-lined ironing board.

Lay another piece of parchment on top. With an iron set to low, smooth out the wrap with a quick pass of the iron. Lift up the top sheet, and transfer the wrap to a spare piece of parchment to cool. Scrape the excess wax back in to the pot with a spoon. If you end up with a lot of un-melted wax in the pot, reheat it quickly with the heat gun on low. Repeat the process until you run out of wax!

For large wraps, use a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Pre heat your oven to a 200 F. Lay a single piece of fabric down on the cookie sheet. Carefully pour the wax over the fabric, and spread out in to a thin layer with a heatproof spatula. Place the tray in to the oven for a few minutes, or until the wax soaks in to the fabric. Carefully remove from the tray using tongs, and hang it to dry. Wraps can also be “re-seasoned” by using the oven method, just sprinkle a little extra grated beeswax on each wrap. Alternatively, to freshen up your wraps, sandwich each one between two pieces of parchment paper, and use an iron on low to redistribute the wax.

If you use this recipe, be sure to let us know in the comments, or tag us in a post on social media.

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