Your Zero Waste Kitchen Just Tossed the Plastic Wrap 35


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Plastic cling wrap and plastic bread bags are often one of the last barriers in reaching the goal of a zero waste kitchen. You can save money and avoid endocrine disrupting plastic with reusable beeswax wraps. Plus, once you see how easy it is to make your own beeswax cloth wraps, you can make any size you need, whenever you want.

Aiming to reduce your kitchen waste? Or even working on a zero waste kitchen? Make your own beeswax cloth wraps to replace cling wrap and plastic bread bags!

Choose your fabric.

This project uses four fat quarters from your fabric stash or about one yard of 45″ wide fabric. (A fat quarter is a 22″ x 18″ rectangle of fabric.) If you don’t have a fabric stash, utilize any 100% cotton, hemp, or linen fabric that is medium weight but not sheer – about 3.8 to 4.5 ounces per yard. Choose fabric that is about the weight of cotton muslin, gingham, broadcloth, or quilting fabric. I prefer cotton that is a little heavier than the fabric used in the commercial beeswax wraps for greater durability. You can find a wealth of material to repurpose for this project at thrift stores or garage sales. Look for household linen such as table cloths, napkins, bed sheets, and medium weight fabric.

This project is easy, but can get a little messy.

Before you start, lay down newspaper or a drop cloth over your work area and over the floor where you’ll be working. If you do accidentally get beeswax where you don’t want it, allow the wax mixture to cool completely. Then apply an ice cube to the wax and it should lift off any hard surface. Rubbing alcohol or D-limonene will dissolve unwanted beeswax, with a little elbow grease.

Beeswax is flammable. Don’t melt wax over direct heat. Instead use a double boiler to melt it. Watch garage sales or thrift stores for a second-hand double boiler that you can set aside specifically for melting beeswax. Alternatively you can create a makeshift double boiler using a sauce pan with water in it, and a glass jar that you don’t mind sacrificing to beeswax crafts. (Once you melt the beeswax and pine pitch in the jar, you won’t get it clean again.) Place a canning jar ring in the bottom of the pot with the water to support the jar and keep it off the bottom of the pot.

Aiming to reduce your kitchen waste? Or even working on a zero waste kitchen? Make your own beeswax cloth wraps to replace cling wrap and plastic bread bags!

This recipe makes four 18″ by 22″ food wraps that are big enough to cover a bowl, a loaf of bread, or a casserole dish. You can easily double the recipe and the amount of fabric to make beeswax food wraps for a friend, too. These make valuable and thoughtful gifts.

Why use pine resin?

While some people omit the pine resin from the recipe, it’s the pine resin that gives these wraps the grip to cling to glass bowls like cling wrap. You can get pine resin on Amazon but buying directly from the company will save you money. Pine resin can be used for other do-it-yourself projects like making pine salve or waterproofing for traditional oil cloth.

DIY Beeswax Cloth Wraps

 

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup beeswax (4 oz.) (like this)
  • ¼ cup pine resin/rosin
  • ¼ cup jojoba oil
  • 4 — 18″ x 22″ rectangles of 100% cotton quilting fabric

Equipment:

  • Double boiler (or glass jar and saucepan)
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet
  • 1″ wide natural bristle disposable paint brush
  • Oven
  • Clothes drying rack or clothes line

Aiming to reduce your kitchen waste? Or even working on a zero waste kitchen? Make your own beeswax cloth wraps to replace cling wrap and plastic bread bags!

 

How to make the beeswax wraps

Prepare the fabric:

Prepare four fat quarters by washing well to remove the sizing. Hang these to dry. Press them with a steam iron to remove any wrinkles before waxing. If desired, you can finish the edges with a zigzag stitch, a serged edge, or simply cut the edges with pinking shears.

Prepare the beeswax:

Melt the beeswax and pine resin together in your double boiler. Drizzle the jojoba oil into the liquified mixture while stirring. You may need to scrape the pine resin off the bottom and stir it into the beeswax once the mixture is melted. Keep this warming in the double boiler while you work with one piece of fabric at a time.

Coat the fabric:

Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 225°F.

Working with one piece of fabric at a time, place the fabric in a single layer on top of the parchment paper on the baking sheet. Using a wide paint brush, wipe the beeswax mixture onto the surface of the fabric. Place the baking sheet in the oven. Leave it only long enough to melt the beeswax. The beeswax mixture will melt into the fabric and spread. Once the fabric darkens and glistens showing that the beeswax is fully melted, remove the baking sheet from the oven.

Use a brush to make sure the beeswax mixture fully saturates the cloth. It may pool in some areas and leave other areas drier. Move the wax around the fabric, using the paint brush, as necessary. Use another piece of your fabric to blot excess wax by setting it on the first piece.

When the fabric is saturated with the wax mixture flip the fabric over on the baking sheet. The blotting fabric should be on the bottom. That second piece of fabric will absorb the excess wax. Using your hands on the warmed fabric, work the excess wax into the less saturated areas of the fabric. Return the baking sheet to the oven, briefly, just long enough to liquefy the wax. Remove the first fabric from the baking sheet and drape over a clothes rack to dry.

The blotting fabric is now your working fabric. Use a brush to spread more of the beeswax mixture around on the fabric. Cover the fabric evenly with a thin layer of the wax mixture. Place the baking sheet in the oven to melt the wax. As soon as the wax is liquefied, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Spread the melted wax around with a brush. Blot the excess wax from the working fabric using a new piece of fabric. Again, flip the fabric over so that the blotting fabric is now on the bottom. Return this briefly to the oven to re-liquefy. Remove the working fabric to a rack to dry.

Repeat with more squares of fabric going through the process one at a time, and blotting the excess wax onto the next piece of fabric. Allow the beeswax-impregnated fabric squares to dry fully. Once dry, wipe both sides of each piece of fabric with a damp cloth to remove any residual wax or resin before using.

Using beeswax wraps in your zero waste kitchen.

 

To use:

Beeswax impregnated fabric can be used in place of plastic cling wrap or wax paper. The beeswax can be warmed in the hands and will conform to the shape of a bowl, casserole dish, or a loaf of bread. It will cling to itself.

To clean:

Wash in cool to warm water, using mild “green” dish soap. Don’t leave it sitting in the water, as this will weaken the bond, and shorten the life of the wrap. Hang to dry. Fold and store.
Do not machine wash. Do not wash in hot water or in the dishwasher.

Other sizes of beeswax wrap that you may find useful:
• 13 inches by 13 inches – big enough for a sandwich or to cover a fruit bowl
• 10 inches by 10 inches — for wrapping cheese, carrot sticks, vegetable snacks
• 14 inches by 26 inches – big enough to cover a baguette

 

The Beeswax Workshop

Be sure to check out Chris’s book, The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More. It’s an entire collection of recipes and projects using natural beeswax. From household cleaners and beauty supplies to items perfect for gift giving, this book will come out again and again as you transform your household into a greener, more self-reliant oasis. 


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35 thoughts on “Your Zero Waste Kitchen Just Tossed the Plastic Wrap

    • Chris

      Both the beeswax and the pine resin last a long time without degrading. Centuries if kept dry, according to samples found in Egyptian tombs, and on iconist art from the first century. The jojoba is actually a wax and doesn’t go rancid like liquid oils. Your biggest problem would be if the fabric that you use degraded from exposure to sunlight, which can take years. So I think you’d be fine for at least 5 years. There is no shelf life, per say.

      When you’re ready to put this in the compost pile, it will degrade like other natural products in the presence of worms, bacteria, soil and moisture.

      Hope this helps.

  • Amanda

    Storing the ‘treated’ fabric: cool dry place, roll I assume for the longevity of the product?

    • Chris

      I keep mine folded in a wicker basket on the counter so I remember to use them. The fabric is very flexible. I haven’t noticed any wear. Beeswax doesn’t crackle like paraffin wax. If you do notice any wear, slipping them back in the oven and brushing the wax around again should fill in any weakness, provided that the fabric has integrity.

  • Cindi

    I loved this tutorial – thank you for sharing it! 🙂

    While I need, and definitely plan on making, some of these, do you have any suggestions for storage of greens (anything that would wilt without a plastic bag) in the fridge? Would a variation of these work for that application, do you think?

    • Mrs Caroline Sautereau-Manowe

      I’ve found the best way to store vegetables like lettuce and things like herbs, is to put them in glass ‘Tupperware’ and place a damp piece of kitchen paper over the top, closing them up and refrigerating them.

  • Michelle H.

    Great tutorial, can’t wait to try it! Would this work as a liner for re-usable sandwich bags?

    • Chris

      You could make reusable sandwich wraps with this. Just vary the size of the fabric.

  • Michelle

    You must be a genius! Love your instructables! Thank you!

  • Joy C.

    Fantastic tutorial. I’m excited to give these a try. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Elaine

    I am getting very frustrated here as try as I might, I cannot persuade the rosin to dissolve in the oil/wax, and mine is powder to start with so I’m not even working with lumps. Is yours actually dissolving, or just particles in suspension? I stir with a chopstick, and end up with a blob of toffee-like soft resin on the bottom of the chopstick. I have tried leaving it for some hours in the double boiler, stirring regularly, but still no luck. I have made wraps with just beeswax for some time and really wanted to get the tackiness of the resin into them. I am beginning to wonder if it’s possible to have the ‘wrong’ sort of rosin! Thanks for any suggestions – yours look so good and I am envious.

    • Chris

      Hi, Elaine
      I’m sorry that you are having trouble with the recipe. Might you be at a high elevation? I’m at 2700 ft. and my water boils at 187F. The pine resin forms a blob in the bottom of the glass measuring cup I use as a double boiler. But pine resin naturally dissolves in oil so when I stir it, it does dissolve. It doesn’t take long when I stir it.

      I’ve tried this with pine resin that I’ve gathered locally as well as the lumps of pine resin (kind of a coarse, flaky powder) from Diamond G. Forest Products in Georgia. Theirs is called Gum Rosin. But it’s Pine Resin with the turpenine volatile oils boiled off.

      I wonder about your elevation because the Pine Resin liquifies at 90 to 100C (212F). But the higher you are, the lower the temperature that your water boils at. You might need to put the glass measuring cup directly on the bottom of the pot, so that it gets a little hotter than the boiling water in the pot. You want to get the pine rosin to reach 212F. It should melt when it reaches the appropriate temperature unless it has fillers added.

      Since it’s making a sticky blob on the end of your chopstick, it sounds like it’s behaving normally and just needs a slight increase in temperature to dissolve all the way.

      Let me know if this works for you.

      • Elaine

        Thanks, I think we’re about 150ft above sea level, quite near the coast in fact – Adelaide in South Australia. I have just ordered some different rosin to try, in case my rosin is the issue. It’s good to know that yours goes through the ‘toffee on the stick’ stage but I haven’t been able to get mine past that to dissolving – I used a slow cooker, then wondered if that was not hot enough and had my jar over actual boiling water. I’m determined to crack this one and I’ll let you know how I go.

        • Elaine

          Ah that would be metres above sea level, not feet….

        • Linz

          Elaine,

          I’d love to know if you ever figured this out! I’m having the same issue.

          Thanks 🙂

    • Chris

      Brianna, I just fold them and keep them in a kitchen drawer when not in use.

  • Kathleen

    Thank you so much for the suggestion. I will try it for sure.
    I have already made some bags for the fruits and vegetables at the grocery and I love them. So it will be a good continuation.
    Thanks again

  • Kate

    I’m thinking of doing some sheets of material as well as making a few bags large enough for a loaf of bread and a half dozen smaller ones for hubby’s sandwiches.

  • Kathleen

    Hello Chris,
    I found “balsam fir gum”… is it the same insted of the pine resine ?
    Thanks for your time
    Kathleen

  • Deanna

    Hi Chris,
    As you are in BC, as I am, where do you get your beeswax and pine resin? Do you collect it or is there a good place to buy it from? Also, must it be jojoba oil or can you substitute other oils?

    Thanks!
    Deanna

  • Mrs. Dan

    This is very interesting. It makes me think of “oil” tablecloths. Somehow people used to have tablecloths that were more than a piece of cloth, which would be dirty after every meal and need laundering. Can the surface of this wrap be wiped off? It would be great if a person could apply the pine resin to one side only (to grip the table) and leave the other side smooth and wipeable. I have never done anything like this and wouldn’t have a clue how to do such a large project. Everything I have seen advertised as oilcloth is just flannel backed plastic which cracks after only a few months. Your thoughts are appreciated.

  • Jane

    What purpose does the jojoba oil have in this recipe? thanks.

  • Miranda G.

    Can these be frozen? I am wanting to use them for meal prepping but don’t know if they are freezer safe.

  • Ka

    Hi I tried to make the beeswax wrap using 100% cotton. But compared to the commercial one my one feels very soft how do I make it firmer?

  • Gigi Hanley

    The cost for the resin is the same from both places. Diamond Forest Products charges shipping which makes it the same as Amazon’s price, but if you have Amazon Prime you will receive it much faster.

  • Elizabeth Hancock

    thanks for this info, have started trying to go natural, kinda hard at my age

  • Marta

    Greetings from the Central Highlands of Tasmania. I realise I’m probably a little late to this conversation, but just discovered this tutorial via pinterest. I have seen wax cloths for sale, but they are crazy expensive. I work a lot with textiles including batik and am aware of how beeswax behaves on all types of fabric. When I have looked at recipes to make wax cloths they contained only beeswax and I was sceptical about how long they would last and how soft the hand would be (ie how malleable and clingy it would be), also the methods used didn’t seem appropriate. So I click on the link to your blog and BAM! A recipe that makes sense AND a technique that reads like it would create the malleable, clingy, durable cloth I’m after. I’ve got plenty of lovely cotton fabric scraps so I will be making a heap of these and giving them as gifts to friends. The challenge will be getting my husband to use them but I do most of the shopping so when I just stop buying the stuff and will ignore his pleadings to “please buy some cling wrap”. At the moment out use of cling wrap is pretty minimal, but there is still more plastic in my house than I would like.

    I did buy some sandwich wraps from Onya https://www.onyalife.com/product/sandwich-wrap/ which are fabulous, but they are made from recycled plastic and I imagine eventually the plastic inner will crack and need replacing – your wax cloth will make an excellent liner.

    Your blog is fabulous. I have just subscribed and look forward to your newsletters. I’m am perhaps further down the road to a sustainable life but love to see what other people are doing and how they are doing it.

    • Kris Bordessa

      The microwave will melt the beeswax, so I’d say no. (I don’t have a microwave, though.)