Our Permaculture Life: Plastic-wrap free food - DIY beeswax cloths

Plastic-wrap free food - DIY beeswax cloths

(for the latest version of this post, and a link to my 5 minute film showing how to make these, please visit  Five Easy Steps to Make Cheap Beeswax Wraps & Reduce Cling Wrap Use. Film #10 with Morag Gamble (5 mins)

Original post:

Our household is determined to find ways to reduce plastic. You could say we are on a plastic wrapping diet - a diet to reduce the volume of non-biodegradable waste that ends up in our bins each week, and thereby help to reduce the garbage burden on our planetary system.

I wrote recently in plastic-free food wrapping, about testing out some beeswax cloths as a plastic wrap alternative. I love them.  They are great at keeping fruit and veg fresh. Some of the ways I have used them are:
Over the past week I have been experimenting with making my own and think I have come up with a really nice mix.

I found this old off-cut of fabric in my sewing box. It is lightweight cotton with a tight weave. 

My first attempt turned out like stiff parchment.  I used a light calico and beeswax.  It works OK, but does not have the texture of the ones you buy. It doesn't mould as well so the effectiveness of it would not be so great. 

Attempt 1: stiff parchment. I think my fabric was too thick and porous and I didn't use enough beeswax.

A better result using the thinner and more dense fabric and my new mix. The fabric seemed to be more supple and pliable and able to better withstand being folded.
I am really happy with the the beeswax cloths I made yesterday. They feel like the ones I bought for $30 for 3.  The difference - I used a thinner material with a denser weave and a small teaspoon of coconut oil drizzled across the tray. The cloths end up being far more flexible and don't seem to crack when bent. They also seem to create a far better seal.

In my later attempts at finding a good mix, I used more beeswax and a drizzle of coconut oil and put the tray in the oven for just 5 minutes at 60 degrees celcius. I used a paintbrush (one that I didn't want to use for anything else later) to help spread the beeswax to the edges.

Once out of the oven, I hung the cloth to dry immediately. It only takes a minute.

From cotton fabric to beeswax infused cloth in under 10  minutes

In terms of cost, it does work out much better to make these yourself.  I went out and bought some new pinking shears to do the edges - to help prevent fraying. I decided to buy high quality ones which cost $31. The beeswax cost $7.50 for the tub. I only used a negligible amount of coconut oil and the fabric were off-cuts. This initially is more expensive than the $30 for 3 cloths, but I plan to make many cloths -  the beeswax tub will last for at least 25 more and I'm sure I will get lots and lots of use out of the pinking shears.


Another method is using a flatbed toasted sandwich press to melt the beeswax and oil onto the cloth. It only takes a few seconds. You can even fold up quite a large piece of fabric (to wrap bread etc) and press this - just add proportionately more beeswax and oil.

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