Make wax food wraps yourself

Wachtücher mit Nahrungsmitteln

Why wax wraps?

Earth and oceans are polluted by a flood of plastic. Therefore, more and more people are trying to minimize their plastic consumption. To achieve this goal, alternatives to plastic are necessary. This includes a plastic-free way to store food without plastic wrap. This is where the wax wraps come into play. The body heat of the hands makes the wax wraps more flexible and they can be pressed around a bowl, for example. It then solidifies in this position and acts as a lid. Another practical feature is that you can also use it to wrap your lunch. If you eat it during the day, you don’t have to carry a thick lunch box around in your bag anymore, only the wax wrap, which can be easily folded and stored in a space-saving way. This is especially handy for shopping trips when the bags tend to fill rather than empty over time. They also look nice with the different fabrics and can even be used for freezing.

Buy or make yourself?

If you now are convinced that such a wax wrap also belongs in your household, you are now faced with the decision to buy one or to start a small production yourself. Often the finished wax wraps that are available to buy are rather expensive and/or are produced in China or the USA. To avoid unnecessary long transport routes or want to save money, you have come to the right place: We describe how to make your own wax wraps step by step. We include a vegan version with vegetable wax as well as instructions for the classic beeswax wrap.

Why DIY?

Apart from the price, there are other advantages to making your own wraps. For example, you can upcycleg and thereby reduce costs and also act sustainably. Fabric remnants from former sewing projects or worn-out cotton or linen clothes can be reused. Also remains of old beeswax candles can be used again. You can also decide individually which size your wax wraps should have. If you don’t have a suitable cloth at home, you can buy leftover clothes in fabric stores. Wax wraps are also a great gift! Especially if they are homemade, it gives it personal touch. In addition, the gift is sustainable and super practical. Further, you can play with the pattern and colors of the fabrics according to the taste of the person receiving the gift. And last but not least, it’s a lot of fun, you can invite friends and especially if you work with beeswax, it smells great!

Vegan wax wraps

Frequently mentioned alternatives to beeswax are carnauba and berry wax. Coming from Brazil and Japan respectively, both have to be shipped halfway around the globe until they reach us. Since long transport routes are not necessarily sustainable, I did further research and after some time I found the rapeseed wax originating from Germany. Cheap and local – I was delighted. Unfortunately, I learned during phone calls with manufacturers that this vegetable wax has no food approval and is therefore unusable for wax wraps. It might be safe to wrap food in, but the necessary tests are still missing to confirm this with certainty. The same applies to sunflower wax. Therefore I can not present you a satisfactory alternative at this point. You have to decide for yourself whether short transport distances are more important to you or veganism – a compromise has to be made at the moment. The good thing is, no matter what you decide, both alternatives are more environmentally friendly and more sustainable than plastic wrap.

Difference between vegetable- and beeswax wraps

The characteristics of beeswax and vegetable wax wraps differ mainly in that vegan wax wraps are somewhat stiffer and less likely to stick by themselves. But a rubber band can be an easy fix. The beeswax becomes a little more flexible from the warmth of the hands and can be adapted well to different forms and “sticks” also without an elastic band. The procedure is almost the same for both variants. The only difference is the wax used. Since the different types of wax differ in their melting temperature, the temperature that the oven must have also varies. But you can find details in the instructions. In addition, those who do not have an oven or iron at their disposal can simply skip the respective step and it will still work.

What you need:

Beeswax wraps

  • Cotton- or linen fabric
  • Beewswax, crushed or in pastille form: beeswax candle remains, from the local beekeeper or buy online
  • Optional: vegetable oil (no jojoba oil!)
  • Baking tray, baking paper and oven
  • Iron
  • (Zigzag) scissors

Vegan wax wraps

  • Cotton- or linen fabric
  • Carnaub wax and/or berry wax, can also be mixed (see section “vegan alternative”)
  • Optional: vegetable oil (no jojoba oil!)
  • Baking tray, baking paper and oven
  • Iron
  • (Zigzag) scissors

There are basically two different procedures for the production of beeswax wraps: the oven method or the ironing method. My experience has shown that a mixture of both works best. However, if you have only one of the two at home, you can also use only one of them.

Instructions

  1. First, the fabric must be cut to the desired size. You can also use a pair of zigzag scissors, as you know them from primary school lessons. This looks nice and the fabric does not fray as much. But if you don’t have these scissors at hand, you can do without them. The wax makes the edges of the fabric stick together and it hardly frays out. The few threads that might stick out can be cut off afterwards without any problems.
  2. Before you process the fabric, it is recommended to iron it briefly to make it nice and smooth.
  3. Then put baking paper on a baking tray and spread the cloth over it.
  4. Next, you can (not absolutely necessary) sprinkle the cloth with a few drops of vegetable oil. When choosing the oil, make sure that you do not use jojoba oil, as recommended in many manuals. This is because jojoba oil has no food approval and is even suspected of being indigestible and toxic to the body. I myself have not used any oil at all, because it works very well without it.
  5. Then you spread the beeswax or vegetable wax pastilles (depending on which variant you have chosen) evenly on the piece of fabric. I have made the experience that you need less wax than you think. Therefore you better dose carefully in the beginning.
  6. Now put the baking sheet and paper including cloth and wax pastilles in the oven at the temperature given below for a few minutes.
Wax Beeswax Carnauba wax Berry wax
Baking temperature 70°C (max. 80°C) 90°C 60°C
  1. In the meantime, just take a look into the oven from time to time, because in the end all wax must have melted. How long this takes depends, among other things, on the size of the wax pastilles.
  2. Then you take everything out of the oven. Now you have two options: if you feel that there is too much wax for one cloth, you can put a second one on top and then another piece of baking paper. Iron this until the wax is evenly distributed on the second cloth.
  3. If you only have an iron and no oven, I recommend that you first melt the wax in a water bath, then apply it to the cloth with a brush and then iron it between baking paper.
  4. If you don’t feel that the wax is enough for two cloths, just put a baking paper directly on the cloth from the oven without placing a second cloth in between. Iron again until the wax is evenly absorbed. It may happen that there are still some spots on the edge of the fabric that are not yet soaked in wax. In this case you can fold the cloth over (fold it together) so that the area in question lies on a piece of cloth that is full of wax. Then put a piece of baking paper on it and iron it again. After a short time, the wax-free area should also be saturated.Tip: If some of the wax has gotten onto the iron despite the baking paper, you can iron for a while over an absorbent cloth, e.g. kitchen roll. This way the wax will disappear after a short time.
  1. Finally, separate the cloths again and let them cool down. The wax wrap is ready! 😊

Care and maintenance

Wax wraps should not be cleaned with detergent, but only rinsed with clear water. If you find this unhygienic, just put the cloth in the oven for a few minutes at 100°C every now and then (or iron over it again), that way it will be disinfected. This also helps, for example, if the cloth gets creased edges after a while. Although these do not impair the function of the cloth, they can sometimes be visually disturbing. They will disappear after a short time in the oven or by ironing. Depending on the intensity of use, wax wraps can be used for 1.5 – 2 years. Afterwards you can simply cut them into strips and put them in the organic waste or compost them.

Have fun!

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