#GoPlasticFree - Beeswax Wrap
I run a social media campaign #RoamResponsibly for Scotland's Instagrammer community and we recently partnered up with the Marine Conservation Society. Through working with MCS I found about their #GoPlasticFree campaign, which they are running in July to encourage people to take on the challenge to reduce and eventually eliminate plastics, especially single-use plastics, from their lives. I took the challenge.
To be honest, I should have started doing this a long time ago, but going plastic-free takes a good amount of time to figure out. You need to really think about your consumer habits and start looking for more sustainable alternatives, which can take a while if you are not 100% sure where to start.
As I was googling product swaps and ideas I came across with beeswax wraps that someone was selling and was curious to how they were made. I found a few tutorials online and it seemed reasonably easy so I gave it a go. It was actually a lot easier than I expected and it satisfied my creative needs: you can cut these wraps into any shape or size you want (as long as it'll fit into the oven) and use your favourite fabrics!
So, what will you need to get started?
- CLEAN COTTON FABRIC - I used sturdy "quilting weight", 100% cotton fabric, which is reasonably thin to allow the fabric to bend easily after the wax is in, but tight-woven enough so that the wax doesn't simply seep through. Because I had no scrap fabrics left, I ended up buying mine from MissMatatabi.
- BEESWAX - Having just moved to Birmingham, I wasn't quite sure whether I can buy beeswax locally so I ended up buying small bars of wax online through Local Honey Man (3 bars for £3), who are ethical beekeepers: they are trying to save the British honeybee by breeding bees and supporting local farmers. Some people also recommend beeswax pellets.
- GRATER - If you end up buying blocks of wax you will need to grate the wax to sprinkle on the fabric.
- SCISSORS - I used normal ones but you might also want to try paper edging scissors to create pretty edges to the wrap, which will prevent fraying as well.
- GREASEPROOF BAKING PAPER
- BAKING TRAY - use an old one in case wax seeps through.
Set your oven to warm up to about 85 °C. Pick a bowl or another container that you want to cover with the wrap that you will be making. Turn your fabric upside down and draw an outline of the container of your choice rougly about 4cm away from the edge. I picked a smaller bowl but drew the line about 6-7cm from the edge just to make sure that it would fit a slightly bigger bowl too.
Carefully cut your piece and trim the edges.
Grate your beeswax bars. I used about half a bar for my fabric piece, which was 30cm in diameter. Cut a piece of greaseproof baking paper and put it on a baking tray. Lay your wrap upside down on the baking paper and sprinkle the grated wax on it as evenly as possible leaving a little bit to the side to cover up any missed spots, which will become obvious once the wax melts. Your wrap will end up looking strangely like and odd pizza at this stage but not to worry, the wax will melt and even out.
Put your wrap in the oven. Some online tutorials advised to leave the wrap in the oven for 5 minutes but the wax on mine melted in a minute, after which I took it out. You may notice lighter, dry spots where the melted wax did not reach. Add a little bit more grated wax to these spots to ensure even covarage and pop the wrap back in the oven until the wax melts. Take the wrap out again and turn it around. I could see a thicker layer of wax on the top side of the wrap (probably sprinkled a bit too much there!) but this will be fixed when you pop it back into the oven and let the wax melt through the fabric again and even out more. If you end up putting too much wax on your wrap and notice that it is swimming in melted wax, the easiest solution is to change the baking paper and melt the wax again to get rid of any more excess wax.
Once you have an even saturation of wax in your fabric, take it out from the oven (be careful, it is very hot at first but will quickly cool down). And you are pretty much done! The wrap is easier to mold when it is a little bit warmer and gets quite tough when it cools down, which is great, because it will hold its shape. You can warm it up in your hands or, if like me you have poor circulation and ice cold hands, put it back in the oven for a couple of seconds to make it more flexible. Ideally, store the wrap flat or very loosely folded, wipe it clean with a damp cloth and top it up with more wax from time to time if needed. Also, do not use there wraps to store meat - not the most hygienic option!
It is exciting not having to buy cling film anymore! I am curious to see how well these last and how often they will need a top-up of wax - I will keep you updated. Please let me know down below in the comments if you have tried to make your own beeswax wraps or document your project on Instagram and tag me in the post (@elsaannukka). I would love to see what you come up with!
There is also still time to join Marine Conservation Society's Plastic Challenge!
If you are brave enough to take the challenge you can sign up HERE
Follow me on Instagram @elsaannukka.