Step-by-step guide: How to make a reusable wax wrap

·4-min read
Close Up Of Woman Wrapping Sandwich In Reusable Environmentally Friendly Beeswax Wrap
Hygienic wax wraps are a green alternative to packing your food. (Getty Images)

When wrapping food in the home it's easy to find yourself reaching for plastic.

But a green alternative, that's also pretty easy and fun to do, is to make your own reusable, hygienic wax wraps.

Every year, up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean, with plastic pollution now the biggest killer of sea life, Greenpeace has said.

Clingfilm is not usually recycled, because it's flimsy and comes into contact with food, according to Maud Barrett, co-director of Sunny Jar Eco Hub, which offers workshops on how to make wax wraps.

Read more: Three years after EU demanded single-use plastic ban by 2021... has it worked?

Wax wraps can be 'moulded' around food, to fit sandwiches, for example, and do away with the need for one-use plastic.

Barrett said: "They are natural, reusable, and food-safe because of the properties of the beeswax, which is naturally antibacterial."

Choosing the right fabric to pair with the wax is absolutely crucial, she said.

"You absolutely need cotton. If you don't have 100% lightweight or middleweight cotton, the wax won't attach. It's best to try it first, to see that it’s sticking to the wax properly.

"Up-cycling things like men's shirts or bedding is actually a good idea because you want the fabric to be a teeny bit used. The absorbency is better, and there's no risk of chemicals being there."

Wrapped fruits and vegetables in environmentally safe beeswax wrap. Reusable eco-friendly kitchen products. Zero waste and sustainable plastic free lifestyle
Wax wraps can be 'moulded' around food and do away with the need for one-use plastic. (Getty Images)

There are two ways to make wraps, Barrett said. For a more professional finish, you can melt pine resin and beeswax together (which can be messy and requires a pot), and paint on with a brush.

"The technique I use at home, and which I teach in our workshops is a bit easier," she said. "It's a bit more like everybody can do. It's not so messy."

What you'll need

Pure cotton fabric, cut to size
Baking paper
Ironing board
Hard beeswax
Cheese grater

To create your beeswax wraps, you simply 'iron' the wax until it melts into the fabric (the baking paper is to prevent mess).

Barrett suggests cutting fabric to the shape you want for your wraps, then applying the wax on an ironing board.

She said: "Basically, sandwich your fabric in between two pieces of baking board. Put one underneath so you don't stain your ironing board and another on top so you don't damage your iron."

Use a grater to apply the wax, but don't overdo it.

Read more: Most people think supermarkets are 'responsible for plastic pollution'

Barrett said: "I just sprinkle lightly my fabric – you don't want it to be too much. For 20 by 20 centimetres you want a tablespoon full. Don’t go too near the edges, and use a medium hot iron."

You can never really be sure until you’ve tested the fabric is a right fit with the wax, so do what's called the 'wax test' once it's cooled down – crunch it in your hands to see if it retains the shape. It should be kind of waxy and sticky.

The key thing is to keep trying until you've got the perfect pairing of fabric and wax, Barrett said.

"Do not be scared of testing and trying. Because it's a nice process. It's an easy thing to do. But be ready to experiment. You will have fun!"

The wraps are great for wrapping most fresh foods, says Barrett, but there are some things you should avoid.

"You shouldn't wrap raw meat or fish or food that is too wet," she said. "If you are concerned about them looking new, you should avoid wrapping food that can stain, like beetroot or very greasy food. Also, don’t use it on hot food or it will melt the wax."

Watch: Should we get rid of single-use plastic items?

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