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.

 

August: A Garden of Splendor and Promise.

August is a busy, productive month.  Harvesting the fruit and vegetables is in full swing.  Take a moment to stop and absorb the beauty of it all.  I spent a few minutes today taking some pictures of the garden.  Sit back and enjoy the view!

     
     
The flowers in August are simply stunning.  Most of these are perennials since I don’t have a lot of time to spend growing annuals.  From left to right, a very fragrant phlox, an intricate lavatera, some sunshiny rudbeckia and lace-capped hydrangea.
Not to be outdone, the vegetable garden is in full beauty now too.  Check out these flowering vegetables.
      
 
Above, dainty, white flowers grace the potato plants.  A pea bloom displays its own delicate beauty. Bean blossoms promise beans into September!  And lastly, a huge squash blossom invites a honeybee in for pollination. 
Now the flowers aren’t the only beautiful things in the garden.  The growing vegetables and fruit are gorgeous and tempting in their own way.  Green tomatoes give a promise of great things to come!  Tiny pickling cucumbers are ripening in the garden.  The change from green to purple in the corn silk indicates corn will be ready soon. 

A plump pea pod awaits picking.    Lush edamame plants are beginning to form soy beans, green pumpkins will be brilliant in a few months and purple beets add color to the garden.  Thick green onion tops, rainbow chard, and flowering tomato plants add color and fullness.   
Juicy blackberries, ripe blueberries, and green grapes provide a rich intensity and a heady fragrance on a hot summer day.  Green ever-bearing raspberries indicate more fruit in the fall.
      
      
So while you are busy gathering, preparing and preserving your garden’s bounty, stop a minute and see the beauty your garden has, at every different stage.  Notice the butterflies and bees pollinating your garden.  Take a moment to study the tiny creatures you find there.  A garden creates endless work, but a lot of joy, and stunning beauty.