Cutting down on plastic has been on many of our minds, and many have hoped for a substitute. Beeswax cotton wraps entered the marketplace, offering a great alternative, and they are reusable. But have you checked the prices? A few materials and you can custom-make beeswax cotton wraps with old cotton shirts or even remnant fabrics.
Plastic contains toxic pollutants resulting in an environmental impact that has spread to land, water, and air. When used to store or heat food, plastic leaches toxins such as BPA, bisphenol A, an industrial chemical that has been used to make plastics and resins since the 1960s. Remember in the movie, The Graduate, Mr. McGuire says to Ben, “I just want to say one word to you, just one word, PLASTICS… There’s a great future in plastics.” And now here we are sixty years later, and I’m wondering who was the better seducer, Mrs. Robinson or Mr. McGuire!
We can do our part by eliminating plastic wrap for an eco-friendly option. The convenience of using baggies may be challenging to replace, but it’s a habit like everything else. Making change is always tricky, but knowing we are doing our part—without breaking the bank—will keep us motivated.
Beeswax wraps are great for wrapping cheese, covering dishes, folding into snack bags, and yes, even wrapping your sandwich. Beeswax cotton wraps provide a safe and effective alternative to plastic. Beeswax is 100 percent natural, non-toxic, and relatively inexpensive. Beeswax is also water-repellent and has natural antibacterial properties. When beeswax is applied to light cotton, it renders the cloth unbreathable, which helps maintain the proper moisture content when storing food.
Materials Needed to Make Beeswax Wraps
-Beeswax, grated (or pellets). You’ll need about 0.5 ounces of beeswax per wrap.
-100 percent cotton fabric; the ideal thickness is thin, such as the cotton found in bedsheets, and indeed these materials can be cut and used. Cut to the appropriate size, such as 12×12 or 8×8 inches. Or you can use environmentally friendly fabrics: “non-woven fabrics“, which are currently widely used in the food health industry.
-A cookie sheet.
-Chopstick or other means for stirring the wax as it melts.
-A make-shift clothesline and clothespins.
Directions for Making Beeswax Wraps
-Preheat oven to 185ºF. Higher will burn the wax.
-Place pre-cut fabric on a cookie sheet.
-Sprinkle grated beeswax evenly and lightly over the pre-cut fabric. You don’t need a lot.
-Place in a preheated oven. Observe! This should take 5 minutes or less.
-Once the beeswax is melted, remove the cookie sheet from the oven.
-Spread wax evenly with a paintbrush to cover over any spots not yet coated.
-Hang on a clothesline with clothes pegs to dry. Once cooled, you can use it.
If your wax starts to harden before you have evenly spread it, reheat it in the oven and try again
This recipe uses less than 1 ounce of beeswax per sheet
If you have a lot of wax left on the cookie sheet, place another piece of fabric on the empty cookie sheet, and it will absorb the extra wax.
All of the supplies can be purchased inexpensively at craft stores or online and can be used again for other DIY projects involving beeswax.
To keep clean, wash in cold water with a mild soap.
Each wrap will last several months or more depending on usage and can be reworked again and again.
Helen Yoest is the executive director of Bee Better, an area non-profit 501 (C) (3) designing and educating area homeowners about building better backyards for birds, bees, and butterflies.