Zero Waste how to

DIY Beeswax Wraps: Instructions

Ever since my DIY beeswax wraps demonstration at the Lithgow Public Library in Augusta last month, I’ve been getting lots of requests for instructions about how to make them. Here you go, and I hope this helps! Leave any questions you have in the comments and I promise to answer as soon as I can. Happy DIY-ing!

Beeswax wraps are a great alternative to disposable food wraps like plastic cling wrap or tinfoil. There are lots of commercially available options, but they’re also very easy and cheap to make on your own! There are lots of different ways to make beeswax wraps, so if my method doesn’t work for you, there are lots of other approaches and materials out there, so you can find an alternative that works better for you.

For my method, you’ll need:

  • Beeswax
  • Fabric
  • Parchment paper
  • Scissors or pinking shears
  • An iron
  • An ironing surface

A note on the materials:

  • Beeswax: I recommend purchasing an unwrapped block and grating it yourself to avoid unnecessary packaging. I use my food processor to grate mine, but you could also use a grater.
  • Fabric: Choose a very thin, woven material made of plant fibers such as linen, cotton, or hemp. Avoid synthetics, knits, and thick fabrics. Before you use fabric to make wraps, wash and thoroughly dry the fabric. You can use pinking shears to cut the edges, but I prefer to “snip and rip” my edges. (You make a very short cut along the edge and then rip the edge off to make it neat. I then pull off any straggling threads. The beeswax will seal off the edges and keep it from fraying.)

Okay, ready to get started? Away we go!

  • Turn on your iron and let it preheat. I use the cotton/linen setting but it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s hot.
  • You may want to cover your ironing board with a protective cloth to prevent it from getting any beeswax on it, which can ruin your other clothes and iron. I didn’t do this because I’m a reckless fool.
  • Spread a piece of parchment paper out on the ironing surface. You want it to be larger than your cloth so beeswax won’t get on your ironing surface. I recommend at least an inch around each edge, preferably more. Cut a second one about the same size. Place one piece of parchment paper on your ironing surface, and put your fabric on top of it. Set aside the second piece of paper for now.
You can see how the edges of the parchment extend beyond the fabric; this will help keep melted beeswax from escaping.
  • Sprinkle some beeswax across the surface of the fabric. Err on the side of too little. It’s easy to add more, but hard to take it away once it’s melted!
I start by sprinkling it in the middle; I’ll use the iron to push the wax outward as I work.
  • Place a second piece of parchment paper across the top of the fabric. You now have a parchment paper/beeswax/fabric/parchment paper sandwich.
Remember to keep parchment between the wax and other surfaces, including your ironing surface and your iron!
  • Begin ironing the parchment paper sandwich. You’ll see the beeswax liquify under the parchment paper. Use the iron to push the beeswax around to areas that need wax. The beeswaxed areas will look dark because they’ll stick to the parchment paper and you’ll clearly be able to see the fabric through the paper; the unwaxed areas will just look like parchment paper over dry fabric.
Ironing, ironing! The wax melts quickly.
  • As you’re ironing, you’ll notice there are areas that aren’t getting dark no matter how much you try to push wax to them; that’s because there’s not enough beeswax to work with in those areas. Gently lift up the top parchment paper and sprinkle more beeswax on those areas. Put the parchment paper back down and iron those areas. Continue to do this until all areas are uniformly dark.
See how the area I’m pointing at is lighter? There isn’t any beeswax there!
  • The fabric should now be uniformly dark and partially visible through the parchment paper. Carefully flip your parchment sandwich over so the bottom side is now up.
  • Iron the now-visible bottom side. Are there areas that aren’t dark? Lift up the parchment paper and add beeswax to those areas and follow the above instructions until this side is uniformly dark as well.
  • While the fabric is still warm but not burning hot, peel back the top layer of parchment paper and then peel the waxed fabric off the bottom parchment paper. The fabric should feel waxy, slightly sticky, and quite flexible. It will stiffen as it cools. Set the waxed fabric aside to cool.
Your waxed fabric will mostly look like a slightly darker version of the original fabric.
  • Let your parchment papers cool and then peel off any large remaining chunks of wax and put them into your beeswax stash. You can use them for the next wrap you make.
Peel off all these savable bits from the parchment paper; you can use them for the next wrap!
  • Reassemble your parchment paper sandwich with the waxy sides facing each other. You can reuse your paper next time too.
Keeping supplies ready for next time!
  • Your wrap is now ready to use! It’s a warm day here in Maine, so my wrap is sticky enough to cling to itself right now, but generally it’s cooler and my wrap is less sticky. When that’s the case, I use a rubber band to help it hang on.
Sticking to itself because it’s unusually warm.
I nearly always pop a rubber band around it to help it stay closed.
I also use a rubber band around the top edge to keep it on a bowl.

To clean your wrap after using it, simply wipe it down with a warm, damp, soapy cloth. Do not immerse it in dishwater or put it in the dishwasher. Because it can’t be sterilized the same way that, say, a glass vessel can be, don’t use it for raw meat. To store the wrap, make sure it’s completely dry and then fold it and store it as you would any other food storage tool. Over time, if you begin to notice that there are areas where the wax has worn off, you can use the same process outlined above to add more wax to those areas. Once your wrap has completely worn out, you can compost it.

Homemade beeswax wraps make great gifts! Now that you’ve made one for yourself, spread the love! You can make them in all different sizes and with different fabrics to make them even more fun.

Let me know what questions you have and I’m happy to help!

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