Beeswax Cotton

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I generally don’t like it, but that is because I have zero self control and waste way too much time catching up on tweets and posting photos to Instagram. But every now and then it actually does something to improve my life and then I am thankful for it. This morning I spent two hours catching up with a childhood friend over coffee. We hadn’t seen each other in over 10 years (ugh, am I really that old?) and reconnected through Facebook when we realized we were both interested in food, farming and homesteading. It was lovely!

I am also a huge fan of Pinterest. I tell myself it is a step above Facebook and Twitter because it is a place to share ideas and inspirations rather than strategically planned pictures and status updates intended to make people envious or to inspire pity or whatever. But it really isn’t. I spend a lot of time “pinning” ideas, but how many of them do I actually go on to try? Uh…

Today I decided to do something about that and I attempted one of my pinned projects: beeswax wraps. My dad had a batch of freshly cleaned beeswax sitting on the kitchen island and I felt inspired. I scrounged up some old (but clean) cotton and got to work.

The idea is simple. You basically coat the fabric in melted beeswax and allow the wax to harden/dry. The wax renders the fabric moldable and impermeable.

I started by heating the over to 170*F. That is the lowest my mom’s oven would go. Beeswax discolors at temps over 185*F so you want to keep things as low as possible. Then I grated some beeswax. To do this I used my zester. I thought about using a cheese grated which I’m sure would have worked, but that seemed like it would be a lot harder to clean. Plus I almost never use my zester so I figured it wouldn’t be too terrible if I ruined it. I was able to clean it with some hot water so the point was moot.

Once that was all done I covered a cookie sheet with foil. Again, I didn’t want to ruin my mom’s pan if it got coated in beeswax. I’m pretty sure this step was unnecessary, too. I placed my fabric on the now-protected cookie sheet and sprinkled wax all over it. I used about a cup of loosely packed shaved wax for a piece of fabric that was slightly smaller than the cookie sheet. You can always add more wax if it turns out you didn’t use enough the first time. Into the oven it went. The instructions said to cook it for 10 minutes, but mine took closer to 15 for all the wax to melt.

You can use a paintbrush to spread the wax around, but I didn’t have a paintbrush so I just let it cook a little longer to make sure the wax was fully melted and the fabric saturated. Once that is done, take it out of the oven and hang the cotton somewhere to cool. You don’t want to leave it on the pan or it will get stuck. The cooling process takes about 30 seconds so you can just hold it if you want.

That’s it. You now have waxed cotton. Easy, no? If you are feeling very crafty, you could take some fancy scrap booking scissors to the edges to make it prettier. Obviously, I wasn’t.

“Ok, sure,” you say, “but what do I do with it?”

You use it in place of Saran wrap or aluminum foil. Anywhere you’d use those, use this. Except to line a pan for baking or roasting. Unless you like beeswax with your food. Wash the wraps with cool water and mild soap and they should last for several months. Over time the wax will start wearing away. When that happens simply re-coat them and they’ll be as good as new.

Why should you make and use these? Because plastic wrap has BPA in it and aluminum is ridiculously expensive and not eco-friendly. These wraps are cheap, renewable, reuseable, and 100% natural.  I’d rather have my food touching beeswax than plasticizers or heavy metals. Wouldn’t you?

Plus these wraps are way prettier. Thank you, Pinterest.

If you like the idea of these wraps but don’t feel like making them, the wonderful world wide web has you covered. You can buy them here or here. These are just websites I found. I haven’t actually purchased anything from either of them and can’t vouch for their products. If you do want to try making your own, you can get beeswax through Amazon or Mountain Rose Herb. Or if you ask nicely, perhaps I will make you one.

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