Now that winter has finally passed, there are two things competing for my attention: the house is begging for a deep Spring cleaning... but the sun is shining and I just want to be outside listening to the birds chirping and the bees buzzing! While this may not officially qualify as "spring cleaning", the project I'm sharing with you today is a pretty neat way to use up some fabric scraps (and I say that anything that shrinks the overflowing scrap bin should be considered cleaning!) And though it doesn't really have anything to do with enjoying the seasonal outdoors, I say it still counts as being in touch with the nature of Spring because for this project you need 100% natural beeswax!
It always bothers me when I have to throw out plastic of any kind. I love finding out about new ways that I can cut back on the amount of plastic that our family has to put into the trash. We are very lucky to live somewhere where many kinds of plastic, including several types of plastic bags, are recyclable. Something we can't recycle though, is plastic food wrap. I was really intrigued the first time I heard about reusable food wraps. My sister-in-law requested some Abeego brand food wraps for Christmas, and ever since then it was something I wanted to try.
There are several different tutorials online for how to make your own. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible for my first attempt, so I used the basic idea I found at Nourishing Joy, and pulled some other ideas from around the web. If you do a search on Pinterest for DIY or Reusable Food Wraps, you will find several places to gather ideas for what might work best for you.
To get started, here's what you need:
~ thin, tightly woven cotton fabric cut into square, rectangle, or circular shape.
~ 100% natural beeswax.
~ something to melt the wax in, and something to hold and/or dip the fabric.
I cut two round shapes, and one rectangle from scraps of light-weight quilting cotton. These are scraps, so I just cut the shapes from how big the pieces already were. I used pinking shears to help keep the edges from fraying. I thought about what I would most likely be wrapping up, and made sure the pieces I selected were bigger than those items.
For the beeswax, you don't have to go out and find a beekeeper... you can easily find it online (try Amazon) or in many health stores. It's often used in candle-making and diy skin care products and lip balms. As an aside, those of you who might remember the tutorial I wrote for Notebook Covers, may recall me sharing that I had become a beekeeper. It's been a couple years now of keeping bees, and it's been an amazing experience! While I would love to be able to say that the beeswax I used for my food wraps is from my own hives, I'm afraid that's not (yet!) the case. My hives have had some ups and downs, and so far they haven't been ready to be harvested for either honey or wax.
There are lots of ways that people have done the next steps in making their food wraps. Microwave, oven, or stove top to melt it and then dunk/dip or "paint" the wax on. One tutorial I saw even used an iron. I wanted to do things as easy and with as little mess as possible. So I decided on making a double-boiler using a frying pan with water, in which I sat a metal loaf pan lined in tin foil. The tin foil is just because I didn't have an extra pan to sacrifice by putting the wax in it directly. Tin foil is recyclable here, but next time I do this, I'll buy an extra pan or a pie tin so I can reuse it.
I also didn't have any tongs I was willing to get wax on, so instead I used Popsicle sticks to help move the fabric in the wax, and clothes pins to grab it. When lifting the fully soaked fabric out of the pan, it drips for just about 10 seconds before stopping, and then you can either hang it somewhere to dry the rest of the way, or just hold onto it until it is dry to the touch before placing it down somewhere.
The wax coated pretty evenly, but there were a few spots that it got a bit thick, especially as there got to be less wax in the pan. So, once the wax was dry, I took one of the kids' school rulers and gently scraped off the excess wax. I imagine any other firm straight edge, such as the edge of a credit card or a putty knife, would also work as a scraper.
And that was it! Of course, I had to try them right away, so I yanked the plastic wrap off of the half of a watermelon that was on our counter, and wrapped it up with my new, reusable food wrap! And a bowl of leftover cut-up cucumbers and peppers? Yep, wrapped that up too! Ta-da!
I recommend rolling them up to store them, as that will reduce creases in the wax. Add a ribbon or piece of twine, and look how nice they look as a gift!
I haven't had to wash mine yet, but from what I read, rinse with cool water and possibly a little bit of soap if necessary and that is all they need. Always remember, wax will melt, so don't use warm/hot water, and obviously they are not dishwasher safe.
I will certainly be making more of these! I'd like to try perhaps some other fabrics, just to see how they might be different. And I've also read about adding jojoba or coconut oil to the wax to make them a little more flexible, as I do find these a bit stiff. I have plenty of coconut oil, so I'd say that's worth a try!
Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the digital world. When I'm not designing (or, more likely, attempting to keep up with housework or schooling my three rug rats!) you'll probably find me with my nose in a book, escaping for a few precious moments into a world of fiction or learning with single-minded focus about my latest interest. Here, I'd like to share with you some of the things that I'm currently working on and a bit about all the ways I like to keep my creative juices flowing!
Just for Fun...