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