A few weeks ago I hadn’t even heard of beeswax wraps. I first came across them via Deborah Meaden and Twitter and since then everyone seems to have gone beeswax wrap mad, me included. However, this post isn’t just about me jumping on the band wagon as my desire to try them links to two topics that I am increasingly passionate about; reducing plastic waste and reducing my family’s exposure to harmful chemicals.
The Chemicals Used to Make Plastics
I’ll deal with the chemicals first as plastics seem to be causing increasing concern with regard to their potential impact on our health. This is primarily linked to Bisphenol A (BPA) which is widely used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic food containers and is also used to coat the inside of some food and drinks cans. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have acknowledged that BPA has the potential to interact with our hormone systems, however their view is that it is not present at large enough levels for it to be a concern when it comes to our health. However, with Breast Cancer UK being one of the organisations currently campaigning for it to be removed from all drinks and food packaging, I can’t say that I feel overly reassured by the FSA’s stance.
Reducing Plastic Usage
Aside from BPA, my other motivation in trying beeswax wraps was for my daughter’s lunchbox as I have always felt wasteful wrapping her crackers up in cling film each day. With plastic waste and its impact on the environment creeping into the world’s conscience I needed to start making some changes in our home and beeswax wraps seemed like an obvious place to start.
The first two beeswax wraps I bought were from South Downs Bees Wax and I was really pleased with them. I only came to try making my own when one of the wraps got accidentally thrown away with the lunch rubbish. I could see this being a repeat occurrence and as such it wasn’t going to be sustainable to keep buying more. So I thought I should give it a go; how hard could it be after all…?
What you need to get started
– Grated beeswax;
– Greeseproof paper;
– Old towel or equivalent.
I have tried making these in both the oven and using an iron, however my preferred method by far is using the iron to melt the wax.
So, here’s how:
1. Get your work area ready with an old towel or equivalent covering the surface.
2. Turn the iron on giving it a bit of time to heat up. I set mine to ‘cotton’.
3. Cut your material to the size you want. I measured mine to what I wanted it to do. (One to fit sandwiches, one to fit crackers and one to fit a loaf of banana bread).
4. Grate some beeswax
5. Place a piece of parchment paper on your towel and put the material on top of the parchment.
6. Sprinkle some beeswax on to the material so that it is thinly covered – you can always add more if it isn’t enough.
7. Place another bit of parchment paper on top and iron it to melt the wax.
8. Once the wax is melted put the iron to one side and peel back the top layer of parchment. If bits of the material are not covered with wax, simply grate a bit more on to the bit that needs it and put the parchment paper back on and re-iron it.
9. Once you are happy with the coverage just peel off the parchment and pick up the material, being careful not to burn your fingers. Either peg the material up for a couple of minutes or hold it by your fingertips until it is dry.
Hey presto, your beeswax wrap is ready.
If you want to try the oven technique it is pretty much the same deal but using a baking tray with a piece of parchment paper on top to stop any wax getting on to the oven.
You will need to pre-heat the oven to around 85 C and use a silicon brush (or equivalent) to help spread the wax evenly across the material once it has melted.
Using the beeswax wraps
When you want to use your wraps, simply wrap up your sandwich, cheese or crackers and, using the heat of your hands, mould the wrap around it.
- I bought some beeswax pellets initially but I found it easier to use grated beeswax as it spreads more evenly.
- I got a smoother finish using organic cotton although this may be because the scraps of fabric I initially used weren’t 100% cotton.
- It is worth pre-washing your fabric to get rid of any residues as otherwise these will get locked in by the beeswax and may also stop the beeswax absorbing into the material as well as it could.
- It might be best to buy a grater just for making these if you plan to do it regularly. I got in a fair bit of trouble with my husband for getting wax on the grater although it comes off easily enough with a bit of boiling water so I am not too sure what the fuss was about!
- If you struggle to cut straight lines buy some jaggedy edge scissors (not the technical term I am sure but you know what I mean).