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The Complete Guide to DIY Beeswax Wraps (AND Beeless Vegan Food Wraps!)

Hand securing a homemade beeswax wrap to a mason jar filled with lemon herb water.

Both my husband and I love to cook, and we delight in sharing our gastronomic adventures with those we love. However, I’ve always hated using plastic wrap each time we take one of our culinary creations out the door. So I set out to find a plastic wrap alternative. When I mentioned it to a like-minded friend, she suggested I get a set of silicone stretch lids. It seemed like a great idea, but I struggled to get them on my favorite handmade bowls. Then I found beeswax wraps.

These are a kitchen game changer! Not only do they cover a bowl or platter on our way out the door, but they’re also great for wrapping up anything you’d use plastic wrap for (like a half piece of fruit), or as a lid for a nourishing herbal infusion. I knew I could make them myself, so I set off on a Pinterest adventure.

Little did I know just how much adventure awaited me! What I thought would be a quick dip into my stash of beeswax for salve making turned into a three-week spree of mad scientist experimentation. That’s right, three weeks of trial and error! Why? Because there were so many different ways to make homemade wraps. And when I failed at my first attempt, I was determined to find the best way to make a beeswax wrap that would measure up to my expectations.

First Attempt: Beeswax Only

One very common method I found on Pinterest was to simply coat fabric with beeswax and, it being the easiest, that’s how I started. I began by cutting a test square of fabric, lightly sprinkling beeswax pastilles on the cloth, and popping everything into my oven. A few minutes later the wax had melted, allowing me to brush it around to evenly coat the fabric. It quickly set up, but the result was a very stiff wrap with none of the stickiness that makes conventional plastic wraps so useful. Plus, when I tried to mold it around a bowl, it cracked. Strike one.

Second Attempt: Beeswax and Jojoba Oil

These are two of the three ingredients in the wraps I had purchased, and this simple combination also seemed super easy to whip up. I prepped another test square, put the beeswax and jojoba oil in a small double boiler, melted the mixture, brushed it on, popped everything into the oven, pulled it out, and brushed again for an even coating. Attempt two was a step in the right direction. These wraps were pliable and would form around a bowl, but they still wouldn’t stick to themselves or the sides of the bowl. Strike two.

Third Attempt: Beeswax and Coconut Oil

After my prior try with jojoba oil, I was skeptical that this attempt would prove much more successful. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked! The wraps were pliable, sticky, and easy to create. However, I found that they left a coconut oil film on everything they touched, and it took a surprising amount of elbow grease to get this residue off of a mason jar lid’s grooves. Not a strike, per se — it worked, but it was messy. Maybe a lucky bunt?

Fourth Attempt: Beeswax, Jojoba Oil, and Copal Resin

The commercial beeswax wraps that I had purchased contained pine resin. Since the term copal describes resinous substances in an intermediate stage of polymerization between softer and amber resins, I thought our wildharvested copal just might work. And it did! Plus, it saved me needing to source pine resin. The resulting treated fabric has the same feeling as my purchased beeswax wraps, plus I can make them in any shape, pattern, or color I want. When testing this recipe, I made large squares (14 inches), medium squares (10 inches), and a circle for my favorite big bowl. I also sewed up a few snack bags; if you go this route, I recommend sewing them before waxing. If you happen to have pinking shears, I'd recommend putting them to use, as they will reduce fraying as you cut and wax your fabric.

 Hand with brush applying golden substance to decorative cloth for DIY food wrap

The BEST Reusable Beeswax Wrap Recipe

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Wash and dry fabric.
  2. Cut fabric into desired shapes and sizes.
  3. Place copal resin in a double boiler or glass measuring cup, and set in a saucepan over medium high heat.
  4. Add water to saucepan until the resin inside the double boiler is below waterline.
  5. Allow resin to melt. This takes about 45 minutes to an hour (and will make your kitchen smell amazing!)
    The resin does not melt into a smooth liquid. When melted it is a thick mass that you can draw up a few inches before the tail hardens and snaps. 
  6. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  7. Add beeswax and jojoba oil, stir to combine. It will take about 15 more minutes for resin to dissolve and blend with wax.
  8. Cover large cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper larger than your biggest piece of fabric.
  9. Place fabric on parchment paper.
  10. Brush mixture onto fabric. It might solidify, which is fine, you'll be able to redistribute later.
  11. Put cookie sheet in oven for 5 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and use brush to evenly saturate cloth with mixture. Work quickly, as you don’t want the wax to begin to solidify.
  13. Flip fabric on pan and place back in oven for 3 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven, quickly brush to saturate, and remove from parchment paper.
  15. Hang to cool.
  16. Rinse with cool water and dry before using.

Hands about to cover bowl of colorful salad with a DIY beeswax wrap

Beeless Vegan Food Wrap

Once I found the perfect recipe using beeswax, I figured that making a vegan version with carnauba wax wouldn’t be that difficult. Using the notes in our vegan calendula salve recipe, I cut down the amount of wax from my original recipe and added more oil to account for the brittler nature of the carnauba. It took a bit more trial and error, but I got there! These DIY bee-free wraps have a slightly oilier feel and leave just a touch more residue than my store-bought beeswax wraps, but they stick wonderfully to themselves and my favorite bowls too.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Wash and dry fabric.
  2. Cut fabric into desired shapes and sizes.
  3. Place copal resin in a double boiler or glass measuring cup, and set in a saucepan over medium high heat.
  4. Add water to saucepan until the resin inside the double boiler is below waterline.
  5. Allow resin to melt. This takes about 45 minutes to an hour. 
    The resin does not melt into a smooth liquid. When melted it is a thick mass that you can draw up a few inches before the tail hardens and snaps. 
  6. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  7. Add carnauba wax and jojoba oil, stir to combine. It will take about 15 more minutes for resin to dissolve and blend with wax.
  8. Cover large cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper larger than your biggest piece of fabric.
  9. Place fabric on parchment paper.
  10. Brush mixture onto fabric. It might solidify, which is fine, you'll be able to redistribute later.
  11. Put cookie sheet in oven for 5 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and use brush to evenly saturate cloth with mixture. Work quickly, as you don’t want the wax to begin to solidify.
  13. Flip fabric on pan and place back in oven for 3 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven, quickly brush to saturate, and remove from parchment paper.
  15. Hang to cool.
  16. Rinse with cool water and dry before using.

Hand about to pick up dried fruit from homemade snack pouch

Pro Tips:

  • No matter the type of reusable food wrap you choose to make, their care directions are the same. Wash in cool water with a mild soap, like Castille soap, and air dry. Store folded up in a drawer away from sunlight and heat sources.
  • Make a double batch of the resin, wax, and oil mixture, and cool the excess in a silicone mold for refreshes, as the mixture melts much quicker than the resin alone. Trust me when I tell you that it’s easier re-melt the mixture in a double boiler and then brush it on than to try to grate it over a cloth and pop it in the oven!
  • Depending on how often you use them, you’ll need to refresh the wraps every 6 to 12 months. To refresh, simply pop them back in the oven, remove, and brush a light coat of the melted resin, wax, and oil mixture evenly over the cloth.
  • It's possible to over-saturate the cloths, so start with a light coat and apply more as needed to get a more even saturation. If you get too much, you can apply another cloth on top to absorb the excess.

 Want more kitchen care INSPIRATION?

Check Out Our Natural Cleaning Solution Recipes!

 

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Pin for DIY beeswax wraps with vegan version

 

Topics: Green Living, Recipes, Our Farms

Kiley

Written by Kiley on August 6, 2018

Kiley Gwynn, certified BJCP beer judge, enjoys a wide variety of hobbies but her deepest passion is homebrewing. She loves spreading the joy of homebrewing and over the last decade has become deeply involved in the Oregon homebrewing community. Kiley is an award-winning homebrewer who holds a seat on the executive committee of Cascade Brewers Society and is a member of American Homebrewers Association Diversity Subcommittee. She loves brewing herbally inspired beers at educational events like Learn to Homebrew Day. When she’s not working as a Marketing Strategist at Mountain Rose Herbs or in her homebrewery, you’ll likely find her under a pile of yarn with a crochet project, in the kitchen working on her latest small batch canning adventure or chasing her rescued red heeler down the beach.