DIY organic cotton beeswax wraps
I have been wanting to make myself some beeswax wraps for a while, and there have been a few half-hearted attempts at researching the process and even searching out materials, but I never got around to it until today, and I wanted to share the process with you!
Beeswax wraps are essentially a piece of fabric impregnated with beeswax and other ingredients to create a moldable, breathable and reusable alternative to plastic wrap. They are perfect for wrapping up leftover food and cut vegetables or covering up bowls. Pretty much anything plastic wrap can do a beeswax wrap can do, but with less waste!
I had seen some wraps for sale at health food and bulk food stores, but knew for sure that I wanted to make some myself. I did a little snooping and found that the ingredients in the wraps you can buy weren't just beeswax and fabric. With a little more research I found that with the addition of a food safe oil and pine resin, the wraps become more flexible, less prone to cracking and actually a little stickier which means they are better at sticking to themselves - like cling film!
Beeswax wrap kits are pretty easy to find these days. Etsy has a ton of them that even include the pre-cut fabric, but half the fun of making them yourself is picking fun fabrics or using scraps from your stash! Of course you can buy large quantities of all the ingredients on Amazon or places like that, but I was pretty adamant that I wanted to source it locally – especially during this time where supporting small business and your local economy is more important than ever! I was super happy to have found a local company called The Sheep Shelf that sold kits which included the beeswax, the pine resin and the jojoba oil all in pre-measured amounts and even included a paintbrush for the application process! This little kit also included instructions, but of course I went a little off-script at times, so I will show you what I did!
To make approximately 10-12 10" square wraps you will need:
- Beeswax kit or 4 oz beeswax, 30 ml jojoba/grapeseed oil and 25g pine resin.
- 100% cotton fabric (I used organic quilting cotton)
- An old jar
- Cookie sheet or sheet pan
- Parchment paper or aluminum foil
- Disposable paint brush
- Extras: disposable chopstick for stirring, paper towel for blotting
Following the included instructions I added the little bottle of jojoba/grapeseed oil and the packet of pine resin to my jar. I placed the jar in a pot half filled with water and brought it to a simmer. Slowly the resin began to melt – this took about 15 minutes. I found a package of disposable chop sticks at the back of my cutlery drawer so I used this to stir the mixture every once and a while to help melt the resin/oil mixture evenly.
While the resin was melting I cut my prewashed fabric into squares. I cut some small ones that were 8" x 8", some medium ones at 10" x 10" and I cut one at 13" x 13" just for fun. You can make them whatever size (or shape!) you want here. I do recommend using pinking sheers here if you have them so that your fabric doesn't fray, but I think once they are all waxed up, they will be less likely to fray. I suppose you could serge or zigzag the edges, but I haven't tried this...
Once the resin was fully melted I added the beeswax, stirring occasionally until it was fully melted – about 15 minutes. While the wax was melting I prepared my sheetpan by covering it with a piece of parchment paper and laying out the first sheet ready to be waxed! When the wax/oil/resin mixture was fully melted I simply dipped in my brush and painted it on the surface of the fabric, letting it soak in to the fabric.
The first few seemed to go on a bit too thick and solidified pretty quickly, so I improvised by placing the sheet with the fabric on it in a 300ºF oven for approximately 30 seconds. (Do not do this if you have a gas oven!) I found that this helped melt the solidified wax and helped it penetrate the fabric. I think I was adding a bit too much in the beginning, so after it came out of the oven, I placed another piece of cut fabric on top to absorb any of the access wax. I would then remove the original piece of fabric and set it aside to cool, and continue with the one I used to soak up the wax, and repeated the process.
It took a few tries to get the amount of wax right, and as they cooled you could see where there was a bit too much wax like in the photo above. When this happened I just put that piece back in the oven for a few more seconds and then dabbed with a paper towel. I repeated all of these steps with each piece of fabric, layering them between pieces of parchment paper to cool.
I'm not gonna lie, this process was a bit messy. The jar and paintbrush were definitely a write-off when I was done and I had wax all over my fingers, counter and camera! But it was pretty fun and easy and well worth it because I got 13 beeswax wraps in various sizes out of one kit, and thats enough to give some away as gifts! (ahem...Mother's Day is right around the corner)
To take care of your new wraps simply wash them in cold water with a mild dishwashing detergent and refresh them every 2-3 months by placing them back in the oven on a piece of parchment paper on a low temperature for just a few seconds. I've never made wax wraps before, but I have been gifted one that didn't have the added oil and resin and I have to say that the flexibility and tackiness that it lends to the finished product is definitely a bonus! I hope you give this a try. It was super fun and definitely satisfying, plus the pine resin and beeswax made my apartment smell like a spa – so win win win!
Thanks for stopping by! xo M
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I would like to make some of these wraps also, but due to an allergy to pine resin or anything pine, do you know of an alternative to use?
So anxious to try these! Thank you!
@ Vivian: I know what you mean! :-)
To work around that, I found that if I apply the wrap after the contents of my bowl had a chance to cool down somewhat, I don’t get as much of a residue sticking to the bowl.
It used to frustrate me, but after a while I gave up trying to scrub it all off. Figured I could live with some of it left on my bowls, knowing it is not ‘dirt’, but only wax… it is not unhygienic as such. And over time, after several regular washes, it eventually disappeared.
Thanks for this post! It is very helpful. I made some many years ago, but did not have access to pine resin then. They were ok for a while, but not optimal. I imagine the resin probably makes the coating last longer. Even though I only ever washed mine with cold water by hand, the wax eventually wore off mostly. Will try your method! :-)
Thank you for this beautiful post! I just have a question bc I tried making these before almost exactly the same way- and I will try again- but I was a little frustrated with the residue left on my bowls from the beeswax wraps after using them. They did work really well, but I felt that residue was really hard to remove…do you have a solution for that or did you not find that happening with your dishes after using your wraps? Thank you again for your great site!