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Water cooler: Making beeswax wraps at home

Beeswax wraps have become a popular storage alternative found in many stores. (Shutterstock)
Beeswax wraps have become a popular storage alternative found in many stores. (Shutterstock)

Beeswax wraps have become one of the most popular and possibly cutest ways to reduce plastic usage at home.

They have become so popular that you can find them at a majority of grocery stores. They are a larger upfront price than a roll of plastic wrap or bags, but because of their potential for long-term reuse, they would eventually become more cost-effective than single-use plastics.

For the extra thrifty and crafty people out there, making your own beeswax wraps is a fun project and gives you the opportunity to make custom sizes for your specific needs as well as choosing your own patterns and colors of fabrics.

The only major drawback is that unlike plastic wrap, a beeswax wrap isn’t airtight. The foods that require airtight containers for storage are those that perish quickly, like raw meats. If you are looking to store something for more than a day or two, such as a loaf of cheese which could easily take at least a week to get through, an airtight container is a better bet. But if you cut into a lemon, only used half a cucumber or couldn’t finish the rest of your dinner, a beeswax wrap is the perfect storage solution for most things that you would use up within 24-48 hours. You can also create a stronger seal by adding a rubber band or string over the wrap.

Creating your own beeswax wraps only requires a few materials. You’ll need cosmetic-grade beeswax pellets, 100% cotton fabric, pinking shears, parchment paper and a baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees or whatever its lowest setting is. While the oven is heating up, choose your fabrics and cut to the desired size using pinking shears. Pinking shears will prevent the fabric from fraying and help the wrap last longer, but if you only have regular shears on hand they will work as well.

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the fabric on the parchment paper, front-side down. Evenly sprinkle the beeswax pellets over the entire fabric. Make sure there are pellets near the edges, especially if you did not use pinking shears to cut the edges.

Once the oven is ready, place the baking sheet in for about 4-8 minutes or until the pellets are completely melted. Once melted, remove the tray and spread the wax evenly over the entire fabric. Again, don’t forget the edges. Make sure you use a brush for this that you don’t mind dedicating exclusively to making beeswax wraps because you likely will not be able to remove all of the wax from the bristles.

Let the fabric become cool to the touch and then hang to dry. Hang it on a hanger or clothes line with clothespins or hang it off a rack or the back of a chair with the beeswax side facing up.

Most people have great results only using beeswax pellets, but if your beeswax happens to dry too stiff and cracks once you try to mold it to shape, pine resin and jojoba oil are excellent additives to create more pliability in the cloth. The resin will also create more stickiness in the wrap, which will help it cling a bit better to surfaces.

For this method, melt the beeswax, pine resin and jojoba oil with the double broiler and then paint it directly to the cloth and bake for 2-4 minutes. This method also allows you to add more of the mixture to the cloth if need be. It also allows you to paint the front and back of the fabric if you prefer.

For a vegan alternative to beeswax, use carnauba wax. This may give the wrap a more oily feel, but it will work just as well.

To care for your wraps, wash them with cold or room temperature water with mild soap and hang to dry. Avoid storing them near heat sources.

The rest is left to your imagination. Customize your wraps by folding them into sandwich or snack bags. Hand sew the edges for extra hold, and even add cute buttons and ties for a secure closure.

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