As part of a drive to reduce plastic and waste in the kitchen, we've been using beeswax food wrappers. They are brilliant for everything from wrapping sandwiches and snacks to covering left-overs in the fridge. Not only do they keep food fresh and intact, they are reusable. Simply wipe them down with warm soapy water and leave to air dry. The one downside is the cost – they are fairly pricey, which is especially annoying when they sometimes get accidentally discarded along with lunchbox detritus and have to be replaced. So, we investigated how to make your own beeswax food wrappers and it was surprisingly easy.
1.Select your fabric
We chose a linen napkin that was stained but had plenty of wear left in it. This also meant we could feel doubly conscientious as we were repurposing something that had come to the end of its useful life. You can choose patterned or plain fabric, but bear in mind who will be using it (your teen may not want to unfold their lunch from a teddy-bear print wrapper!). Using pinking shears, to avoid the edges running and out of laziness, we cut the napkin in half. It's good to have a range of beeswax wrappers in different sizes, so figure out what would be most useful for you and then cut the fabric to size. A typical sandwich wrap is usually 14" by 14", but you can make smaller ones for snacks and larger pieces to cover bowls of food. You can also make circular shapes if you prefer.
Tip: if, like us, you choose linen fabric it might be good to iron it first. We didn't, and we found that the beeswax didn't spread as easily as when we used a wrinkle-free piece of cloth.
2.Place fabric on a baking tray
Line a baking tray larger than your fabric with greaseproof paper and lay the fabric onto it. Place the pattern, if there is one, face down on the sheet. Pre-heat your oven to 200C.
3.Cover with beeswax pellets
Cover the fabric evenly with beeswax pellets, ensuring you get right to the corners and edges. We found the creases problematic here (see pic above), hence the need for pre-ironing if your fabric is crumpled. We used one of these bulk bags of beeswax pellets and had lots left over after covering two pieces of sandwich wrap-size linen.
Place the tray in the oven for around 5 minutes, or until the wax has begun to melt. Take the tray out of the oven and brush the wax using an old pastry brush that you won't mind not being able to reuse, or a new dedicated brush. You want an even spread, right up to the edges.
The fabric will cool quite quickly as the wax begins to set. As soon as you can pick it up, drape it over a clothes hanger, the back of a chair or pin to a line (indoors) to air dry. The fabric will stiffen, and once the wax is no longer sticky it's ready to use.
You can then sew your fabric square into a snack pouch, or add buttons to fasten if you like. We left ours as a simple square, as we found we didn't really use the button fastenings on other beeswax wraps – the wax adheres to itself so you can get away with just folding and pressing in place. You can even fold them into little cones or cartons for easy snacking.
(pic via thesustainabilityproject.life)
And there you have it! A plastic-free, satisfying home DIY repurposing an old linen napkin. If you don't feel like making your own, there are plenty available to buy and they really do help reduce waste in the home. Take them in your bag when you go shopping and avoid extra plastic packaging as you go. They also make lovely gifts too.