Tag: plastic free wraps

Handmade Beeswax Wraps: A DIY Guide

Making beeswax wraps with wax from the backyard Hive

bee hive-chickens-fruit-trees-garden promote Sustainability & support the Environment

This is totally NOT beadwork or jewellery related but was a bit of fun.  You might recall from a previous post that Hubby had a Flow® hive in our back yard.

One year he added a standard Langstroth box to this hive to experiment with different ways of harvesting honeycomb. It was tasty but time consuming and didn’t happen again. After removing and harvesting that box, he cleaned the wax from the frames and made these little honeycomb shaped moulds. The moulds had been stored away waiting for me to make some wax wraps to replace our old ones. 

How to make Beeswax wraps: One of the many ways to make these wraps

This is a look at the recipe I used and what I learned during the process.

Preparing the Fabric

I used a tightly woven, lightweight 100% cotton and as beeswax has a yellow tint, I tried to find prints that would work with this.  Darker prints may also hide stains left by juices from some fruits and vegetables.

Wash the fabric before cutting into the required sizes.  I did this back-to-front and ended up a tangle of frayed edges to sort out and trim off.

Pine resin is very sticky, so I lined a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and reused the sheet several times. I preheated the oven to approx. 150 Celsius and laid the washed and dried fabric onto the parchment paper.

Melt the Ingredients

I combined the beeswax, food grade pine resin and jojoba oil in a double boiler and melted it over low-moderate heat, stirring occasionally to combine.  This took some time because of how large my pieces of wax and resin were. (I had read that the resin may caramelise if heated over too high a heat and then won’t melt at all).

Large chunks of resin will take a long time to melt – I had put them into a cloth and hit with a hammer to reduce their size, but they could have been smaller. Avoid inhaling the small particles of resin. (A hint I read was to store it in the freezer to make it more brittle and easier to smash).

Do not melt resin directly over a flame as it is highly flammable.

Ingredients & Ratio

The amounts used in the 4:4:1 ratio below will be enough for one 25cm square   I adjusted the amount to use the full 100ml of oil I had and poured the leftover mixture into these lovely little daisy flower moulds to cool. I can now grate and use for re-waxing worn wraps or grating over new fabric to create more wraps in the future.

  • 40g beeswax
  • 40g pine resin
  • 10g jojoba oil

The mixture was very sticky so I was glad I used an old bowl as the top of my double boiler that can be reserved just for this use.

Don’t use your good cookware, cloths, or clothes.  It wasn’t the easiest thing to get off everything and if using an iron, maybe get an old one.  Even using a piece of cloth over the handle of mine, it still got sticky.  I am a messy cook so obviously a messy wax wrapper too.

Straining the mixture before using or pouring into a mould to remove any unmelted or caramelised lumps, in hindsight might have been the thing to do.

Wax the Fabric

I painted the mixture onto the fabric with an old basting brush.  A little went a long way and it didn’t need to go right to the edges as it melted further while in the oven.  I placed the tray in an oven for a few minutes on low heat while I painted the next lot.  When some of the fabric was larger than the baking sheet I folded it into halves or quarters to fit and turned it over during its time in the oven to let the wax reach the other side evenly.

Another option I tried was to place the fabric between two sheets of parchment and use a hot iron to spread. 

When I had added too much mixture, which resulted in a thick, hard wrap that was difficult to use, and cracked when folded, I placed another piece of fabric over or under the first and reheated in the oven, and for some extra juicy ones, with the iron.

Cool the Wrap

When I removed the trays from the oven, checked that the wax had saturated the fabric evenly and fixed any dry patches by adding more of the mixture and reheating and was happy with the result, I pegged to a clothes airer to let cool for a few minutes.

Some of the bigger sheets, I just draped over the airer rails.  Remember, the beeswax is still tacky so protect your airer with some old cloth or paper.

Caring for your Beeswax Wraps

Bees wax wraps are not designed to be used to cover hot foods or foods with lots of liquid.  You can however use them to cover a bowl of food (such as stew) once it has cooled.

Use the warmth of your hands to shape the wrap around the bowl or item and to activate the stickiness to seal to itself.

Wipe over used wraps with tepid soapy water, rinse and let dry before storing.  Your beeswax wrap will melt in hot water, therefore they can’t be used with raw meat, fish or poultry.

When your wax wrap starts to show signs of wear, just place it back in the oven (on parchment paper as before) and reheat.  If it has “bald spots” add a little more grated wax to that area and again using parchment paper, melt with the iron.  Once the wrap has reached its end, don’t throw it away, add it to the compost or use it as a fire-lighter for the BBQ or camp-fire.

Suggested uses for Beeswax Wraps

Beeswax wraps can be used to cover cut fruit and vegetable ends, they can be folded into a pocket to store a sandwich, used to cover bowls of salads, cooled leftovers, and for proofing bread. 

Breads and baked goods can be wrapped in them and they make great food-wrap-come-plate for picnics.

The fabric offcuts were not large enough to “wrap” around items so I stitched them into little bags and coated them in the beeswax mixture. They are great for storing snacks in lunchboxes.

Beeswax wraps, snack-bags

Would I do it again?

Probably not. At least not to the above scale. I made enough wraps for personal use, to give as gifts, and I still have unused wraps in the drawer.

While the traditional honey harvesting and cleaning the wax was interesting, I’m glad we only did it once!

The original beeswax in the honeycomb shaped moulds have many uses. These include lubricating door hinges or drawer runners, conditioning leather jackets or shoes. Also furniture polish, personal care, and thread conditioner for beading or needlework.

I poured the leftover wax:oil:resin mix into little daisy flower shaped moulds. The smaller size is great for easy repair of any “bald spots” on the current wraps.

Additional Notes: Please verify with your health provider that this information is suitable for you.

  • Pine resin possesses antimicrobial properties, making it suitable for topical applications to prevent infection in wounds and scrapes.
  • The volatile terpenes (the smelly compounds) in pine resin may help with respiratory congestion when rubbed on the chest.
  • Pine resin salve can also serve as a soothing rub. Suitable for sore muscles and painful joints due to its warming and stimulating nature.

What have you made from beeswax? What is your favourite recipe or process and do you have any suggestions on how I can utilise the leftovers? I’d love the hear your ideas.