Beeswax wraps are a wonderful, natural, breathable, and reusable alternative to plastic cling film. I lead a Boomerang Bags community in my home town of Stanthorpe, Qld and we make them as a way to raise awareness and funds. They are made from reclaimed fabric – washed, sun dried and then infused with a blend of beeswax, gum rosin and jojoba oil. If you want to make them yourself consider using reclaimed fabric from a linen cupboard or sewing stash as it is environmentally better than buying fabric new. Wraps can be made from beeswax alone, but I find they are very rigid. The gum rosin and jojoba are an extra expense but they definitely add value to the final product in my opinion. The gum rosin creates the cling factor and the jojoba oil helps to soften the wrap. The quantities I’ve listed here are for a small batch and a large batch. You might find it tricky to buy the ingredients in small quantities. If you are wanting to make just a few for your own use then you might consider getting a few friends or family members onboard and you can share the costs and then the pile of amazing wraps you’ll end up with.
If you are making and giving wraps as gifts consider including basic instructions on how to use and care for them. Wraps will be tacky to the touch once just made but will settle down after a couple of days. Beeswax will naturally be stickier when hotter and more rigid when cold.
TO USE A WRAP:
Cover bowl or food with wrap and use warmth of hands to mould into shape. The wraps sticks to ceramic/glass and itself.
Hand wash with cold water and a mild detergent/soap. Hang to dry.
Perfect for cheese, vegetables, fruit, sandwiches and snacks.
Not suitable for meat or wet items like watermelon.
Store flat or rolled for a longer useful life. They can attract dust so if dust is an issue in your house consider storing in a sealed container like a lunch box. I just pop mine in the drawer that would normally be for plastic cling film etc.
Wraps can last a year before re-waxing is needed. To re-fresh place on a flat baking tray on a sheet of baking paper and heat in oven to melt ingredients again. Or place between two sheets of baking paper and iron.
MAKE YOUR OWN
I’ve tried a few variations of methods and ratios. This is the one I like best. It’s good to experiment though and you can adjust whatever you need to in order to make it work for you and your set up. I prefer to use my wood oven as it is efficient (I’m heating the house anyway) and has a large work surface on top and an oven. Making wraps is a lot of fun and the house smells divine but allow ample time for the first attempt.
If you are not in a position to make your own then try to source a local maker. If you can’d find a local maker I am happy to sell to anyone in Australia. I make small batches regularly for my local not-for-profit Boomerang Bags group anyway. Any sets I sell privately help cover the costs of ingredients and my time and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Boomerang Bags group. Email me for prices and details.
• 50 grams of beeswax
• 30 grams of pine rosin
• 15 ml (3 teaspoons) of jojoba oil
• Makes approx. 5-8 wraps
• 250 grams of beeswax
• 150 grams of pine rosin
• 60ml (12 teaspoons) of jojoba oil
• Makes approx. 25 – 30 wraps
Phase 1 – Prepare fabric
• 100% cotton fabric
• Pinking shears or pinking blade on rotary cutter
• Ruler or tape measure (a metal ruler is ideal when using a rotary cutter)
• Cutting mat (if using rotary cutter)
• Wash, dry and iron fabric.
• Make squares 20cm or 30cm. I use a rotary cutter with a wavy blade. Be careful. Rotary cutters are great to work with but are very sharp. The largest I generally make is 30cm square because that is the size of my oven tray. You can make larger wraps but it is a bit tricky.
• Measure, mark and cut with pinking shears or rotary cutter fitted with pinking blade. Using a pinking blade/scissors means no sewing edges.
• TIP: You can sharpen shears/blade using aluminium foil.
Phase 2 – Infuse fabric
• Pine/gum rosin (powered preferable)
• Jojoba oil
• Paper towel
• Old tea towel to clean your hands as you go
• Scales to weigh wax and gum rosin
• Medicine cup to measure oil (I find measuring by millimetre is more consistent than using a teaspoon).
• Paintbrush (can only be used for this purpose henceforth)
• 2 baking trays – flat and at least 30cm square
• Deep pan
• Saucepan and large tin can (double boiler set up). Ideally a stainless steel jug is best but a tin can works if you don’t have one.
• Parchment paper/baking paper (optional)
• Wooden bench/wooden chopping board/piece of wood or ply (larger than 30cm square)
• Clothes horse
• Turn oven on.
• Measure out wax and gum rosin. Most gum/pine rosin is in large crystals and a rolling pin is a great way to crush it into a powder. Either leave it in the bag it comes in (if thick plastic) or wrap it in some fabric or large tea towel when crushing. An old mortar and pestle works but is more time consuming and difficult to clean. Crushing down the gum rosin is not essential but it melts faster.
• Boil approx. 5cm of water in saucepan.
• Add beeswax, jojoba and gum rosin to a large clean tin can. The larger quantities listed above will fit into a 800 gram tomato can. You can melt the beeswax pellets and jojoba first then add the gum rosin. Put can/jug into boiling water (double boiler style). Allow ingredients to melt and combine. Check that the gum rosin has fully melted and not in large globs at the bottom. This set up remains until all mixture has been used. Replenish water in saucepan as needed. It can take a LONNNG time for the ingredients to melt if you are doing a large batch.
• Add 2-4cm of water to large deep baking dish and add to heat. Above this you will position the flat square baking tray covered. The heat of the water underneath with stop the mixture on the wrap from cooling and setting while you work.
• Position the fabric right side down on the baking tray.
• Use a paintbrush to get the mixture and apply it to the wrong side of the fabric. Paint the mixture onto the fabric then continue until all fabric is covered. You are aiming for good coverage but not too thick and not too thin.
• Transfer the tray into the oven for a moment (30secs – 2 mins depending on how hot your oven is) to finish off the infusion and ensure it is fully melted. Keep in mind you are not cooking it. Simply heating it.
• Remove from oven and pick up the fabric with your hands (or tongs if it is too hot for you) and wave in the air until it is cool enough to rest on a wooden bench/chopping board (I cover mine in baking paper). Once cooled further transfer to a clothes horse.
• Brush beeswax mixture onto the wrong side of the fabric.
• Remove the infused fabric from the tray while it is still really warm will create a smoother finish on your wraps.
• Some fabrics may bleed colour. It may change the look of the pattern. In my experience this happens with redder fabrics. If you don’t want this red to transfer to the next wrap you can wipe down the oven tray with paper towel after the red fabric. You can compost the paper towel.
• Try to arrange your process so you minimise any drips on your stovetop, work surfaces or floors. It’s pretty sticky.