For the past year, along with much of the population, we’ve been looking at ways to reduce our dependence on single use plastic. I decided that rather than an evangelical purge of all single use plastic, it’s best to take small steps and ditching the cling film seemed the easiest way to start.
I had some commercial beeswax wraps that I’d used a few times and then forgotten about but with the zeal of a newly converted ‘no cling film user’ I started to use them regularly and realised they make a viable and more sustainable alternative to cling film. The only problem was that I didn’t have enough, so I decided to make my own, using the advice given in this post at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial.
Use patterned fabric that will hide the inevitable marks and stains that will appear or even better, print your own. The home made beeswax wraps above have been printed using thermofax, jelly printing and onions.
To make Onion Patterned Beeswax Wraps, follow the instructions below. Use plain fabric or very pale patterned; in the picture above, I used an onion to overprint an unsuccesful jelly print, which has given some interesting patterning.
MAKE YOUR OWN ONION PATTERNED BEESWAX WRAPS
You will need:
100% cotton fabric
1 large onion
Fabric Paint/Ink (or acrylic paint mixed with textile medium)
Palette or plate
Pure Beeswax pellets
PRINT YOUR FABRIC
Lay your towel on a flat surface and spread your fabric on top.
Pull off any loose outer skin and cut the onion in half.
Put a small blob of fabric paint onto your palette and use the sponge to dip into the paint and dab it onto the cut side of the onion. You need a thin, an even covering of paint.
Press the onion (inked side down) firmly onto the fabric. Hey presto. You have a print.
Repeat your print until the fabric is covered and leave to dry.
MAKE YOUR BEESWAX WRAPS
When the fabric paint is completely dry, lay the towel on the ironing board and put a large piece of baking parchment on top.
Fold your fabric into six layers or if you’ve used several different pieces of fabric, just pile up six pieces of fabric and put them on top of your baking parchment, making sure there is a margin of at least 10 centimetres around the edge of the fabric in case the wax leaks.
Sprinkle the wax pellets on top, cover with another piece of baking parchment, set your iron to the cotton setting and iron gently over the baking parchment. If the wax pellets are melting unevenly into the fabric, use the iron to push the wax to the dry spots.
Flip your baking parchment sandwich over and run your iron over again, pushing the wax to fill any more dry spots. If you have an excess of wax, just slip another piece of fabric under the baking parchment and iron again so that the new fabric soaks up the wax.
When your fabric has soaked up the wax, peel the fabric layers apart, taking care not to burn yourself as they may still be hot, and lay the fabric out to cool.
When it’s cold, the fabric will be slightly stiff with the wax.
Cut your waxed fabric to the sizes and shapes you require, using pinking shears if you’re worried that the fabric might fray. My largest wrap is about 35 cm x 35cm and the smallest one is 15cm x 10cm (perfect for wrapping a cut lemon).
You can also screen print your fabric using an embroidery hoop (see instructions here), use potato prints, jelly prints or block printing.
Beeswax wraps are ideal for keeping bread fresh, covering a bowl of dough that’s proving and for covering bowls of leftovers. Hold the wrap in place so that the warmth of your hands shapes it to the bowl. These home made beeswax wraps aren’t as clingy as cling film or the commercial beeswax wraps that use pine rosin and jojoba oil but I use a rubber band if I want a firmer seal.
You can use basic origami skills to make boxes or pouches, which makes them useful for packed meals.
After use, wash your beeswax wrap with cool water and a little washing up liquid and leave to dry. Don’t use them in the microwave because the wax will melt and don’t use them to wrap uncooked meat or fish.
After a year or so, either re-wax them using the original method or if they’re looking a little stained, use them as fire lighters or compost them.