Try DIY: Beeswax Fabric Food Wraps

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I’ve had beeswax food wraps on my DIY list for about three years. While my friend Carly was visiting, she suggested we get our craft on and make some. I can confidently say it is now crossed off and perhaps will never be reattempted. This is one precarious and messy DIY.

Beeswax fabric food wraps are an alternative to plastic wrap. They’re super popular in the world of zero wasters, homesteaders, and no plastic folks. With an uncommitted  foot in all three of these camps, I knew I would use these food wraps proudly, but making them was another story. I have zero experience working with wax, so I think this makes me the perfect candidate to honestly describe the process. Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes and make beeswax wraps with ease.

Materials

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Beeswax block

We bought a pound of beeswax from the local candle and soap making outlet (does every city have this?). Most tutorials/recipes recommend pellets, but we choose the block because it was more cost effective. Our 1 lb block was $15 and 8 oz of pellets were $9 = $3 saved in the long run.

Metal Tray

We picked up an tin tray from a thrift store to use as our wax container. Wax is basically impossible to remove from surfaces. So we bought this tray knowingly, devoting it to wax forever more. Tray = $1

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Fabric Scraps

We grabbed cotton scraps from my stash. We tried to choose thin fabric. This is better than canvas/ upholstery/ thick cotton. The duck fabric above? Too thick. The best was the pink and white fabric which were similar to bedsheets.

The Process

We melted our beeswax by placing the wax block on the tray in a 170 degree oven. We then waited for it to melt. We waited and waited. Finally after 1 hour, we decided this was too much. We took it out and sacrificed a knife to cut it into smaller pieces. At this point our beeswax was the consistency of butter. Slicing the warm beeswax was much easier than attempting to cut it while it was solid. We put it back in the low heat oven and waited another hour for the beeswax to melt completely

Total melting time: 2 hours

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Finally, we were ready to dip our fabric pieces in the beeswax. We had read about a few methods online, and the dip method looked the easiest. It was not. Each time we attempted to dip, our wax cooled too quickly. So we had to place the tray mostly in the oven. But this placement made it difficult for dipping the fabric. We laid a larger fabric piece over the open oven door to catch any wax drips.

img_5010The wax already cooling

As we were dipping the fabric we also were unable to coat the areas we were holding. The two corners of a rectangle might remain unwaxed. However, when we attempted to coat those areas by dipping the piece again, we somehow created a double layer of wax that was tricky to remove.

We dried the fabric pieces outside on a basic clothes rack. After dipping most pieces we noticed that the layer of wax was too thick and visible. At this point we were baffled with the complexity of this project. Carly pulled up a video of someone making the fabric wraps with ease. They were using an iron and wax paper. At this point we both would rather end up with usable products than anything else, so we shuffled off to the store and purchased parchment paper ($4)

The New Method

img_5011The excess wax removed by iron.

With my iron in hand, we set out to make our thickly coated waxed fabric more practical. We sandwiched the fabric piece between parchment paper and ironed it slowly on the lowest setting. We were able to melt the wax enough so it slowly squeezed off the fabric and onto the paper. At the end of this method we had thinly coated fabric – perfectly usable.

Also because we’re crazy and hate using paper products, while Carly was ironing, I was scraping the excess wax off of pieces of parchment paper so we didn’t have to use two new pieces for every piece of fabric. We probably saved about half a roll of paper? Plus we reclaimed some beeswax, too. I found this task, though repetitive, to be quite relaxing. The one downside with this method happened when my ironing board was waxed in the battle. But, to be honest, it really needed a refresh anyway, so keep a lookout for an ironing board cover tutorial in the future!

Lessons Learned

  • Pellets, though a few bucks more, would have saved us so much time trying to melt the beeswax
  • If we really wanted to use the block effectively, we should have bought a cheese grated and dedicated it to grating wax forever more. That would have also saved us some time.
  • The dipping method was not the best for our space and created thickly coated fabric
  • The ironing method was much more precise and created thin waxed fabric.

In the end, we now have usable beeswax fabric wraps. They’re very exciting.

Happy making!

 

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