Monday, 23 February 2015

Homemade bees wax material to replace plastic cling wrap!

I have managed to eliminate many bits of plastic in our house over the years. I take my own shopping bags to the supermarket. I use glass jars for storing things. I buy wooden toys for kids. I have even fixed my washing baskets rather than buy a new one!

But one of the few things that I find hard to live without is cling wrap - that soft stretchy plastic that covers up food in the fridge and makes traveling with food so much easier. A few weeks ago at the markets, I saw some beeswax material that can be used to replace clingwrap in a lot of applications.

I knew I could make it and so turned to other bloggers to see how they did it. Easy to do. Hard to stuff up. And it works, really works!

Here's what I did...

First cut up some plain cotton material into useful sizes. I was going to hem them but as it turns out - the wax holds the threads in place so I didn't need to.

Preheat the oven to a fairly low heat. Beeswax is flammable so go slow and sure rather than fast and on fire!

Next I cut a piece of baking paper to the size of my oven tray and then placed my first piece of material on it. Melted beeswax is hard to get off any surface so make sure you only use equipment you are prepared to sacrifice to this project for ever more!
I also put a piece over the cooking grater as I couldn't find my "craft project grater" when I wanted it (that will teach me to clean up my crafty area wont it!?)
Grate the beeswax evenly over the cloth. I think its better to do less than more at this point. Over all I think I used very little wax. I didn't measure it but I saw on another blog that she used less than 1oz per cloth.
Pop it into the oven and leave the beeswax  to melt. It wont take long - a minute or two max.
Once its out of the oven, you can use a paint brush to move the wax around and get it all over the material piece. It cools very quickly though. Might be easier to do that if you can poke at the material whilst its still in the oven. The wax wont come out of the paintbrush so make sure its not your favourite painting one!
Then grate a little more wax onto the uncoated areas and put it back in the oven. Repeat until you have covered all the material with the beeswax.
Lots of instructions said to hang the finished cloth on a string line. I found that if I left it to cool a little in the tray and then picked it up and held it for maybe 15 seconds. It was cool and dry enough to simply hang on the back of a chair until it cooled all the way down.

 My second piece was bigger than the tray so I folded the end over and did exactly the same as for the first piece.

You can see the bit that didn't get any wax when I unfolded it. It was just a case of applying more wax again in areas that needed more. I also used a paintbrush to move some wax to the dryer spots and to squeeze some of the wetter spots over into the dryer spots - trying to get an even coverage.

And there are my four new cling wrap cloths!

I love this for wrapping bits of cheese rather than storing it in plastic for any longer than I have to!

The beauty of this stuff is that it moulds to the shape of whatever you want it to and retains that shape. Great for wrapping fruit and veges in the fridge, cheese, covering bowls of leftovers etc. Its not so good at retaining liquids by itself so pop liquids in a bowl and cover with the beeswax wrap.

Its kinda funky how it retains the shape you put it into!
When I made my pieces, I cut hem to a 12x12 inch size but have discovered that that is too big for most applications. I cut one of the sheets into four quarters and they fit nicely over the top of bowls and cat food cans beautifully. I just cut them with a pair of scissors and so far they haven't frayed or needed hemming.
To wash these, I dip them into some water and give them a bit of a rub. I wash them more like a plate than a cloth. If the water is too hot then the wax will start to remelt and will be hard to get off your sink.
I found that some of the wax stayed on the baking paper when I finished the first cloth - just start making the second one and the new cloth will soak it up. I rolled up the baking paper when I had finished making this batch and will use it again on the next ones.
I found cotton the best cloth to use (sheeting weight) and went through my material scrap pile to find these pieces. I'm guessing once I've exhausted that stash, the Op shops will be a great source of material for these beeswax food covers.
I'm not sure how long these will last, but I'm planning on re-waxing them if they lose their stickablity or the wax wears off.
Have a look at these blogs for more inspiration!

Let me know how you go -  post links to your beeswax cloth making below!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for using natural products to replace plastic
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for using bits and bobs lying around the house.
Time cost: About 3 minutes a sheet.
Skill level: Cutting, grating and melting skills!
Fun-ness: This was a lovely way to spend a wet afternoon in the kitchen!
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