One of the handy little things I carry in my everyday zero waste essentials kit is a reusable beeswax wrap. It’s basically a little handkerchief with a wax cover. Not only is it functional, but it always garners a lot of interest from people, making it a great way to start a conversation with folks in coffee shops about good zero waste practices.
Curious about how to make one of these beeswax wraps (or their vegan counterparts)? Read on.
What’s the point of a beeswax wrap?
Essentially, it’s meant to replace plastic wrap or even small ziploc baggies in your everyday life.
I’ve seen lots of people using it to cover bowls in their fridge, but I think a plate is a simpler choice in that regard. Instead, I use my beeswax wrap on the go. When I’m out and want a small snack, I pull out my beeswax wrap and it’s an automatic plate! The delicious goody of choice can be dropped onto the food wrap directly to avoid unnecessary packaging.
If you don’t happen to finish your snack, you can take it to go by making a little pouch from your beeswax wrap. Just fold the wrap into an envelope-style pouch and warm it up in your hands to seal it.
(I’d like to say there’s usually something utilitarian and wildly healthy in it, but honestly? It’s usually a doughnut. #nolieshere)
Sure you can buy one pre-made from brands like Bee’s Wrap or Abeego, but why not be zero-wastier and DIY a reusable food wrap out of cloth you already have? You’ll have a super-handy addition to your zero waste arsenal and the satisfaction of doing it yourself.
Reusable beeswax wrap DIY
- 1 piece of cotton cloth (size your choice, but I like to have it big enough to wrap a sandwich)
- Beeswax* – or a vegan alternative
- Sheet pan
- Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
- Old bamboo toothbrush
- An oven
Preheat your oven to 180F – you’ll want it warm enough to melt the wax, but not enough to brown your fabric.
Line your sheet pan with item of choice and place your cloth on it. Sprinkle beeswax (or vegan alternative) all over the cloth. You don’t want too much, but eyeball it so that when it melts there’s enough to spread thinly over the whole piece of fabric.
Toss the cloth into the oven for about 5 minutes – keep your eye on it, though! Once the wax looks melty, take the pan out of the oven and (quickly) spread the wax all over the fabric using your implement of choice.
You can pick it up and see pretty clearly if you missed spots or the wax is uneven. If a part of the fabric didn’t get covered or the wax is still blobby, simply toss it back into the oven for another 2-3 minutes and try again.
Once I’m done I like to hang it up for a bit to firm up.
*I got my beeswax in bulk but you can also get it online relative unpackaged. Also feel free to substitute vegan wax options and complete the reusable wax wrap DIY in the same way. Choose a block for less packaging and easy grating options.
How to care for your beeswax wrap
To get the wrap into shape, simply warm it up between your hands until it bends easily. I like to form mine into an envelope shape and tuck something inside. Once you’ve put something inside you can continue to press the seams together to ensure you’ve melted the wax to create a (not super great) seal.
When you’re done, wash it under lukewarm water with dish soap and hang to dry. Always make sure to dry well so it doesn’t start to mold.
After a while the wax may start to crack – no worries, it’s fixable! You can either reheat the wrap in the oven and spread out the wax again or, if there isn’t enough wax, just sprinkle some more wax on top and remelt.
After that, good as new and ready to be used again!