Plastic Wrap Alternative: DIY Beeswax Cotton Wraps

I was first introduced to beeswax-coated cotton wraps when someone gave me one made locally They quickly became an important part of our food storage regime. They are beautiful, functional, reusable, economical and eco-friendly.  And, as I soon discovered, not difficult to make.

I have been trying to cut back our kitchen plastic usage for years.  I don’t trust plastic especially when it is holding food, and it is simply NOT sustainable.  I replaced all my plastic storage containers and zip lock bags with glass or stainless steel ones.  Other than the cost, those weren’t too difficult to switch over to.  The item that I had a greater challenge replacing was plastic wrap.  The convenience is difficult to replace.  These beeswax wraps, however, have single handedly eliminated plastic wrap from my kitchen.  They are great for wrapping cheese, covering dishes, or folding into snack bags.  They can even be sewn into small snack bags to be used at school or work if desired.

Plastic wrap (I used Saran wrap) is a wasteful, single-use, petroleum product that I am convinced is not an acceptable part of natural living.  When used to store or heat food, plastic leaches toxins into our food that we then consume.  Many studies have now proven that BPA, a chemical that is in many plastics, causes a number of unacceptable health issues in those who consume food products in contact with it.  All plastics contain chemicals, and some are not well-studied to prove their safety. Plastic wrap is no exception.  Beeswax cotton wraps provide a safe and effective alternative.

We have beeswax available all the time since we keep honey bees.  Beeswax is 100% natural, non-toxic, and relatively inexpensive.  I use it in my body product recipes such as hand lotions, body butters, deodorant and balms.  It is water-repellent and has natural antibacterial properties.  When applied to cotton, it renders the cotton “unbreathable” which helps maintain the proper moisture content when storing food.  These qualities make it a great candidate for a plastic wrap alternative.

When choosing your fabric, use 100% cotton (organic is preferable).  The ideal thickness is a sheeting cotton.  (Think, your bed sheets or pillow case).  You can reuse old sheets or pillow cases, or you can choose beautiful fabrics for fun.

If you would rather purchase these wraps made in North America by a sustainable company and priced reasonably, click here.

Materials

  • beeswax, grated (or pellets).  I use about 0.5 oz. of beeswax per wrap
  • 100% cotton fabric, cut to appropriate size (12×12 in. or 8×8 in. works for us)
  • old cookie sheet (that will be used for this purpose only, forever after)
  • paintbrush (that will be used for this purpose only, forever after)
  • chop stick for stirring the wax as it melts
  • cheese grater (used exclusively for beeswax)
  • a make-shift clothesline and clothes pins
  • oven

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 185F.  (Higher will burn the wax.  I know from experience…)
  2. Place pre cut fabric on cookie sheet.
  3. Sprinkle evenly and lightly with grated beeswax.  You don’t need a lot!
  4. Place in preheated oven.  Watch carefully!  This should take 5 minutes or less.
  5. As soon as the beeswax is just melted, remove from oven.
  6. Spread wax evenly with paintbrush to cover over any spots that are not yet coated.
  7. Hang on makeshift clothes line with clothes pegs, to dry.  Once cooled, you can use it!

Notes

  • If your wax starts to harden before you have evenly spread it, simply reheat it in the oven and try again.
  • This recipe uses less than 1 oz. of beeswax per sheet.
  • If you have a lot of wax left on the cookie sheet, place another piece of fabric on empty cookie sheet and it will absorb the extra wax.
  • All of the supplies except the beeswax can be purchased cheaply at thrift stores and can be used again for other DIY projects involving beeswax.  Purchase the beeswax through Mountain Rose Herbs, a trusted company carrying all sorts of ingredients for body products.
  • Wash in cool water with a mild soap.  I use liquid castile soap.
  • Each wrap will last several months or more depending on usage.

This post has been linked to Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #54, Fresh Eggs Daily: Farm Girl Blog Hop #10, Homestead Revivial’s Barn Hop # 89, 116th Wildcrafting Wednesday and Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday November 20th.

 

Have You Lost Your Chemical-Conditioning? Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies.

This past year has been a real learning experience for me.  I thought I was eco-friendly before, buying all-natural cleaning supplies, natural shampoos and deodorants… and now, a year later, here I MAKING my own products.  So if I was green then, what am I now?  Good question.  I’d like to say sustainable.

For most of my life, if I ran out of dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, bathroom cleaner, deodorant, shampoo etc., life would go on hold until I ran to the store to buy some more.  It never crossed my mind that I should make it myself.  In fact, because of the chemicals used in most of these products, there is no way I COULD make them myself.  It wasn’t until I became aware of the dangers in those chemical-based products and started using all natural products, that I realised that these ingredients are actually ones I could get my hands on, and I could make myself. 

Talk about enlightening!  Talk about liberating!  Talk about sustainable!  I don’t actually HAVE to run to the store as soon as I run out of something.  I can actually make it myself, and chances are, I will even have the ingredients in my own kitchen or laundry room already!  The clouds have cleared.  I see the light. 

I have been cleaning for some time now with baking soda and vinegar-water.  They work perfectly.  They don’t kill every last bit of bacteria in the house but I am OK with that.  Bacteria isn’t always a bad thing.  But it did take me a while to let go of my 7th Generation cleaners and head to my cupboard for the baking soda.  Chemical conditioning, I call it. 

For a few months now I have been washing my hair with baking soda-water and rinsing with apple cider vinegar-water.  Fantastic results.  Chemical-free, cheap, safe and available.  I had read about doing it for literally YEARS but I couldn’t put down the shampoo bottle.  Because I was chemically-conditioned to  that chemicals work better.  But they don’t.  My hair is shinier, healthier, and much less dry than it has ever been in my entire life. 

Today I ran out of dishwasher detergent.  Today I looked up how to make my own.  Today I realised that I can easily make my own from ingredients I already have.  Salt.  Baking Soda.  Borax.  Vinegar. 

Next I ran out of laundry detergent.  I looked that up too and have discovered how to make my own.  I did pick up a few ingredients for this one… washing soda (cheap!!!) and pure glycerin soap (also cheap!).   And tomorrow, when I wake up, I am making my own laundry detergent. 

Up next will be deodorant.  I fell in love with an all-natural, baking soda-based locally-made deodorant that I picked up at a farmer’s market last summer.  It worked so well I bought some for my husband.  We put it to the test on hot summer days.  It worked perfectly for both of us.  No aluminium. No preservatives.  No color, or chemicals.  I could keep supporting the local supplier, but once I read the ingredients, I thought “I could make this!”  The ingredients are great and I already have them in my cupboards.  I can MAKE my own deodorant!

I feel as though a whole new world has been opened up before me.  What an opportunity!  I don’t need the chemicals.  I don’t need the preservatives.  I don’t need the beauty isle at the store.  I can make my own from basic ingredients that most stores carry.  And I can feel good about using the products because I can actually pronounce the ingredients.  My family is safe from unknown, harmful chemicals.  No longer do I have to buy the all natural but expensive supplies.  I can make my own.  Have you lost your chemical-conditioning yet?  Come try it with me!

This post has been linked to Common Sense Homesteading’s Living Well #27Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #13Homesteading Trading Post Link Up and The Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barnhop #48.