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Natural Health

DIY: Homemade Beeswax Wraps (Reusable Food Wraps)

Have you used beeswax wraps before? They’re nifty little things. We use them all the time! Beeswax wraps are a sustainable alternative to plastic cling wrap, and a great way to reduce plastic waste in the kitchen. Even better, it’s incredibly easy to make your own homemade beeswax wraps! You can even repurpose old fabric for this DIY project. Follow along to learn how. 

This tutorial shows the most simple and straightforward method to make reusable homemade beeswax wraps possible, using only fabric and beeswax! However, I’ll also share an alternative option if you’d like to give that a try too. We’ll also go over best practices on how to use, wash, store, and refresh your homemade beeswax wraps at the end of this article.


 


What are beeswax wraps?


Beeswax wraps are pieces of fabric that have been coated in pure beeswax – sometimes along with a few other ingredients like oil and tree resin. They are moldable, slightly sticky, and used to protect, seal, or package food. Furthermore, beeswax wraps are reusable, non-toxic, and biodegradable. You can purchase pre-made ones, or make your own! Rather than single-use plastic wrap, we use our homemade beeswax wraps to cover bowls and food containers, or to wrap food directly. You can also sow or clip the wraps into snack or sandwich baggies!

Beeswax has natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, so they’re quite sanitary! This study confirmed that food wrap products containing beeswax are effective at preventing food spoilage and inhibit the spread of harmful food-borne bacteria. However, be sure to follow the best practices to keep them clean (described at the end of this article). The combination of beeswax and cloth creates a breathable food wrap that locks in moisture, keeps food fresh longer, but also allows it to naturally breathe. Because they are made with natural beeswax, the wraps do smell a bit like… well, beeswax. I don’t personally find this to be an issue. 


DeannaCat is holding a wrap that has half an apple resting in the middle of it.
DeannaCat is holding a beeswax wrap that has been folded into a tight ball, half an apple is wrapped within.


What kind of fabric should I use to make beeswax wraps? 


It is best to use 100% cotton, hemp or linen fabric to make homemade beeswax wraps. Organic or re-used fabric is all the better! Natural fabrics like cotton will readily soak up the beeswax right into its fibers. In contrast, synthetic fabrics that contain polyester or nylon will not absorb it as easily. The beeswax will remain more on the surface and eventually flake off.  

It is best to make homemade beeswax wraps with a thin to medium-weight fabric: something similar to the thickness of a t-shirt, pillowcase, cloth napkin, flour sack or tea towel – not thick and fuzzy like flannel or a dish towel. On the flip side, I wouldn’t use something as thin as cheesecloth. For this particular set of homemade beeswax wraps, I used an old shirt that no longer fit well. Up-cycling for the win!


Supplies Needed


  • 100% cotton fabric (suggested sizes to follow)
  • Scissors or pinking shears
  • Beeswax pastilles or shaved block beeswax. These organic beeswax pastilles work great!
  • Something to hang the wraps up to dry – such as a clothes hanger or twine and clothespins
  • Parchment paper or tin foil
  • Baking sheet(s) and oven 
  • A paint brush. This item is’t totally necessary, but is helpful to spread the wax evenly across the fabric after it melts. That said, keep in mind the brush will get covered in wax and may not be suitable for certain future projects. To clean the brush afterwards, try dipping it in hot/boiling water to remove the wax. 


All the supplies needed to make homemade beeswax wraps are displayed. A small bowl of beeswax pastilles, shears, parchment paper, clothespins, twine, paint brush, and two pieces of 100% cotton fabric.


Alternative recipe option: 


Some homemade beeswax recipes call for other optional ingredients like jojoba oil and pine resin. You’ll commonly see these additions in commercially-made beeswax wraps. They make the wraps more pliable (less stiff) at room temperature, and also help them stick to surfaces and themselves more readily. If you’re creating a large amount of beeswax wraps (making it worthwhile to buy the resin), giving them as gifts, or want to make them extra-professional, feel free to try this option. However, the simple fabric and wax version work just fine in my experience! 

For this variation, combine 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles, 2 tablespoons of pine resin, and 1 tablespoon of organic jojoba oil in a double-boiler on the stovetop. Heat until melted and fully combined. Use a brush to apply an even coat of the mixture across the surface of the fabric. It should be enough to absorb and saturate the fabric (covering at least two small-to-medium wraps), but not pool and be drippy. You’ll have to work quickly to prevent the wax from hardening as you go. Hang immediately while still wet.

Otherwise, keep reading to learn the way we usually do it instead!


HOW TO MAKE BEESWAX WRAPS


Step One: Prep the Fabric


  • If you haven’t already, wash and dry your chosen fabric as needed.
  • Cut the fabric into desired shapes and sizes of your choice. (See recommended sizes below.) For this particular demo, I was working with limited size options since I created these homemade beeswax wraps from an old small shirt. Plus, we already have quite a few larger wraps. 
  • If you’re feeling especially crafty, you could hem the cut edges of the fabric with a sewing machine. Another option is to cut the fabric with pinking shears to reduce fraying. The wax itself will also slow fraying. 
  • Your homemade beeswax wraps don’t need to be square! They can be rectangular or even cut into circles. 


Suggested best sizes for beeswax wraps:


  • Small – 7×7” or 8×8” : ideal for covering small items like the top of a mason jar, half an apple or avocado, or the cut end of a cucumber 
  • Medium – 10 or 11” square: cover an average bowl, block of cheese, half a sandwich, or other small to medium vegetables like a partial head of cabbage
  • Large – 13 or 14” square: cover a full sandwich, half a modest watermelon, small baking dish or average pie pan, or a medium mixing bowl – such as a bowl or basket of proofing sourdough!
  • Extra large – 16” or greater: create an extra large homemade beeswax wrap to cover large bowls and baking dishes, whole or partial loaves of bread, and more. 


Two pieces of plaid cotton fabric are laid out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.


Step Two: Prep for Oven


  • Preheat oven to the lowest setting (150°F to 200°F)
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper or tin foil. 
  • Lay the pieces of fabric on top. You should be able to fit a couple small to medium size beeswax wraps per baking sheet, or one larger one. 
  • Sprinkle beeswax pastilles or shavings evenly over the surface. Be sure to get some near the edges of the fabric too!
  • In regards to amount, go just a tad lighter (about a quarter less) than shown in the photos below. Yeah, sorry to be confusing… I was using a different larger pastille than I am used to working with, and it ended up being a little too much. Using the tiny bead pastilles (also shown below), that amount was just right! It’s better to err on the lighter side, since too much wax can make the wrap more stiff and even flaky. You can always add more, or sop up any excess if needed. We’ll talk more about that in the troubleshooting section to follow.


Two pieces of plaid cotton fabric covered with beeswax pastilles are laid out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
These particular beeswax pastilles were larger/thicker than I am used to working with, so this ended up to be a tad on the heavy side. Using average beeswax pastilles like these, you could sprinkle about this much (or a tad less) than shown above.
One large piece of plaid cotton fabric is covered with small beeswax pastilles are laid out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Using teeny tiny beeswax beads, this amount/coverage was perfect.


Step 3: Melt & Spread Beeswax


  • Place the baking sheet with wax-spinkled fabric in the warm oven for about 5 minutes, or until the beeswax is fully melted and has soaked into the fabric.
  • Once melted, remove the tray from the oven. Do the next steps fairly quickly. The wax may start to harden if you work too slow, but you can always put them back in the oven to re-melt if needed and then continue.
  • Run a brush back and forth across the fabric to evenly spread the melted wax, dispersing any pooled/heavy spots towards the edges. 
  • While still wet and pliable, hang immediately to dry.
  • That’s it! Once dry, they’re ready to use. You could also wash them once before use if you wish. See the use and care tips below.  


DeannaCat is using a paint brush to spread the melted beeswax to evenly and fully cover the fabric.
I had quite a few heavy/pooled spots on this batch of wraps, so it was helpful to spread it out with a brush.
Three finished homemade beeswax wraps are hanging from a fireplace mantel. Each one is a different size from a small, to medium, and large size. Large houseplants are flanking each side of the mantel.
Hanging dry. No, they should NOT drip so don’t worry about it making a mess! They dry very fast.
DeannaCat is holding a finished wrap to illustrate its stiffness though they are pliable when melded to cover food or containers. There is another beeswax wrap in the background, both are made from a 100% cotton blue and pink plaid shirt.
Firm and dry.


Finishing Options


I’ve seen folks do all sorts of cute and creative things with their homemade beeswax wraps! For example, you could fold, clip, or sew a large wrap into a snack or sandwich baggie size. Adorn it with a button and loop, or little patch of velcro to keep it closed. Or, simply pinch together the top of the “bag” and roll it down to seal. 


Using Homemade Beeswax Wraps


Use your homemade beeswax wraps to store cut fruit and veggies, around cheese, bread, and more. They’re perfect to use on top of bowls, food storage containers, or glass jars instead of plastic wrap or a lid – like over a salad or leftover bowl of soup in the fridge. We use ours to cover our proofing basket and bowl of dough when we’re making homemade sourdough.

Because you shouldn’t wash beeswax wraps with hot water (discussed in the wash and care section to follow) and they therefore can’t be thoroughly sanitized, it is best to NOT use your wraps in contact with raw meat. Consumer New Zealand also suggests to avoid using beeswax wraps to cover food meant for infants or the immunocompromised, just in case.

Homemade beeswax wraps usually stick to themselves better than a bowl or other object, so simply pinch the sides together to create a good hold. If they’re feeling a tad stiff and not super sticky, make them more pliable by rubbing and warming between your hands briefly before use.


A white ceramic bowl is covered with a homemade beeswax wrap made from a blue, pink, and green patterned shirt. A dough ball of proofing sourdough lies within.


Troubleshooting 


As you use, bend, and shape your beeswax wraps, it is totally normal for creases and faint white lines to develop. However, if you were a little too heavy-handed with the beeswax, it may get flaky and shed. In that case, put your homemade beeswax wrap back in the warm oven, allow the wax to re-melt, sop up some of the excess wax with a napkin or paper towel, and then put it back in the oven once more to even out and finish. In contrast, if your wrap feels limp and not waxy enough (or has visible areas missing wax) toss it back in the oven with an additional sprinkle of beeswax to provide a thicker coating.


Cleaning Homemade Beeswax Wraps + Ongoing Care 


Wash your homemade beeswax wraps with cold to lukewarm water and mild soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s natural castile soap. Avoid using hot water since it can melt the wax. You can also wipe them down with a damp cloth. Allow the wraps to air dry and then store them in a cool, dry place. Once ours are fully dry, we simply fold them up and tuck them in a kitchen drawer.

Homemade beeswax wraps should withstand several years of use. Once they become old, thin, and/or less sticky, it is easy to refresh them! Simply tuck the old wraps back in the warm oven with a small sprinkle of beeswax to provide a fresh new coating and lease on life. If they’re really old and beat up, you could simply compost them. Since they’re made from 100% natural materials, beeswax wraps are biodegradable.


A homemade beeswax wrap made out of a a blue and pink plaid shirt is folded up into a rectangle. It illustrates some white creasing that is caused by the beeswax.


You just made yourself a reusable beeswax wrap!


That was super simple, right? I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and feel inspired to part ways with plastic wrap. Our planet thanks you for your efforts. Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to spread the love by sharing this post!


If you’re into DIY or reducing waste, you’ll probably love these articles too:



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5 from 7 votes

DIY Homemade Beeswax Wraps (Reusable Food Wraps)

Want to reduce plastic waste in your kitchen? Come learn how to make homemade beeswax wraps to store food instead! They're reusable, non-toxic, biodegradable, and really easy to make.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Keyword: DIY beeswax wraps, homemade beeswax wraps, reusable food wraps

Equipment

  • Fabric (100% cotton, linen or hemp)
  • Scissors or pinking shears
  • Beeswax pastilles (pellets) or shaved block beeswax
  • Something to hang the wraps up to dry – such as a clothes hanger or twine and clothespins
  • Parchment paper or tin foil
  • Paint brush. (Optional, but is helpful to spread the wax evenly across the fabric after it melts. Note the brush will get covered in wax and may not be suitable for certain future projects.)
  • Baking sheet(s) and oven

Instructions

  • Cut the fabric into desired shapes and sizes of your choice. (See common size suggestions in the notes below).
  • Preheat oven to lowest setting (150-220F).
  • Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper or tin foil, and lay fabric on top.
  • Sprinkle a modest amount of beeswax pastilles over the surface of the fabric. See photos above for example.
  • Place in oven until wax fully melts and soaks into fabric, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and use a brush to spread the melted wax evenly across the fabric (working from center outwards). Work quickly before wax begins to harden.
  • Immediately hang to dry while still wet and pliable. If needed, place back in the oven to re-melt and then hang.
  • Allow to fully dry, and then they're ready!
  • Use your homemade beeswax wraps to cover bowls, food containers, or directly around food. Do not use in contact with raw meat.
  • Wash beeswax wraps with cold to lukewarm water and mild soap. Air dry before folding and storing.

Notes


Alternative Recipe Option:
Combine 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles, 2 tablespoons of pine resin, and 1 tablespoon of organic jojoba oil in a double-boiler on the stovetop. Heat until melted and fully combined. Use a brush to apply an even coat of the mixture across the surface of the fabric. Hang immediately while still wet.

Suggested best sizes for beeswax wraps:
  • Small, 7×7” or 8×8” : ideal for covering small items like the top of a mason jar, half an apple or avocado, or the cut end of a cucumber 
  • Medium, 10 or 11” square: cover an average bowl, block of cheese, half a sandwich, or other small to medium vegetables like a partial head of cabbage
  • Large, 13 or 14” square: cover a full sandwich, half a modest watermelon, small baking dish or average pie pan, or a medium mixing bowl – such as a bowl or basket of proofing sourdough!
  • Extra large, 16” or greater: create an extra large homemade beeswax wrap to cover large bowls and baking dishes, whole or partial loaves of bread, and more.


DeannaCat signature, keep on growing


9 Comments

  • Courtney

    5 stars
    What a great project and tutorial! Well written and easy to follow. Thank you for the amount of work you put into your blog; your passions really shine through.

  • TIa

    5 stars
    Have you tried using an old credit card or firm plastic scraper (rounded edges) to spread the wax? I usually use old credit cards to spread thin even coats of gesso or paint When doing my art. Might work in this instance.

    • DeannaCat

      Hi Tia – That may work to disperse some of the pooled wax, sure! Yet I would be hesitant to press down hard and “scrape” the entire surface with a firm card as it may remove more of the wax than intended. The brush does a good job about spreading it AND applying it, in a way. Does that make sense? Thanks for the suggestion and for tuning in!

  • Nicole Novak

    5 stars
    I am always attracted to the bee wraps but the price leaves me a bit not chilllllllll, so this is a great idea and I can’t wait to try it out!

    • Molly

      5 stars
      Wow– I had no idea I could make these. Thanks for the tips! Sounds like a great eco-friendly gift idea for the upcoming holidays, too!

    • Brooke Hopkins

      Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to make a set for myself. I’m thinking stocking stuffers too! A quick question; never have worked with bees wax before, will the wax soak through to coat the underlying side? Or do you turn the piece over and spread wax on both sides? Thank you again! Love all of your content.

      • DeannaCat

        Hi Brooke – Good question! Yes it will soak through (excess will even pool on the underside) so no need to flip or add more! Have fun and thanks for tuning in!

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