Open your fridge door now? How many plastic boxes, packaging or plastic-wrapped groceries you can count? None? Then, you are probably one of the lucky exceptions, one of the rare species who care about what we’re leaving behind and what our kids will inherit. Piles of plastics and oceans filled with dangerous non-biodegradable trash? What we can do in the face of this sad fact is, simply, try to produce the smallest amount of plastic we can. And to recycle what is left.
Most plastic wrap clings are made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) that may contain a potential endocrine disruptor – diethyl hexyl adipate (DEHA). It has been linked to breast cancer in women and low sperm counts in men. (1) To find a healthier, more sustainable way to store your food should not be a choice depending on your mood, but a mission. Mission possible.
In addition to airtight containers, glass jars and bowls with saucers on top (I actually love building towers in my fridge ;)), a new or rather long-forgotten way to preserve your food is back in the game. The extraordinary properties of beeswax were rediscovered in the shape of beeswax wraps to effectively replace the convenience of plastic cling wraps. And it comes with two great advantages – it is 1) kind to the environment and 2) causes no harm to your health. Beeswax wraps are just what you think – beeswax applied to a wrap, e.g. a piece of cotton fabric that can be mold to different shapes.
Beeswax is the building material for the honeycombs – the place where bees store the honey. It is a mixture of more than 300 components! It repels water and possesses natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. (2)
Due to the hydrophobic protective properties of beeswax, if applied to a fabric – like cotton or hemp, it fills the microscopic holes and makes the cotton waterproof and “unbreathable”. This is a great advantage in food storage because it helps maintain adequate moisture levels.
Beeswax also makes the cotton easily adjust to any shape, thus, making it a great alternative (a sustainable one) to conventional plastic wraps.
DIY Step by Step Guide to Homemade Bee’s Wax Paper
Note: Making beeswax wraps yourself is relatively easy. But if you think you are not that crafty or simply don’t have the time, you could always purchase your green alternative to plastics from reputable manufacturers like Bee’s Wrap. They make beeswax wraps in various sizes and beautiful clean designs – organic cotton wraps only. In addition to beeswax, they treat the fabric with organic jojoba oil to further boost antibacterial properties. I haven’t used it for so long yet but the company claims their product can last for up to a year with proper care.
Choose your fabric
It would be easier for you to use 100% cotton, because it is more accessible than other options, like hemp, and you could even repurpose your old sheets or clothes. If cotton is organic – that would be the best choice. (For reference: Bee’s Wrap products are made of GOTS-certified organic cotton and sustainably sourced beeswax from the United States!)
Purchase your beeswax
Again, look for a credible producer or reseller that can offer organic, sustainably sourced beeswax. It is important to note that, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and acaricides are widely used in beekeeping. The residues of these chemicals, especially antibiotics, are a risk for the quality of bee products and for human health. The accumulation of pesticides in beeswax as a result of environmental pollution is well documented [2,3]. You don’t want those substances touching your food, no less than the plastic wraps. So choose wisely, and choose certified organic.
Additional tools and materials
Supply your DIY Atelier with a baking tray or sheet, a painting brush, and a cheese grater. It is preferable that you use them for this purpose only from now on :).
- Cut the cotton fabric to the size you prefer – 8×8 cm, 12×12 cm, 15 x 15 cm are all good for different types of foods and containers.
- Heat the oven to 185 F. Be careful not to overheat it.
- Spread the piece of fabric in the tray. You could use parchment paper on the bottom of the tray.
- Grate the beeswax (0.5 oz. of beeswax per a medium size wrap). Spread it evenly on top of the fabric.
- Put It in the oven. It takes about 5 minutes for the beeswax to melt.
- Take the tray out of the oven and spread evenly the melted beeswax with the paintbrush. Put it back to the oven for a minute if there are untreated spots and the wax has started to harden.
- Hang the wrap to-be somewhere to cool and dry (e.g. on a makeshift clothes line).
- Now you’re ready to go green in your kitchen! It might leave a trace of honey odor in the beginning, but that will fade with usage.
Facts About Beeswax Wraps
- They can be washed but with cold water and a mild soap only.
- You mold the wrap into the desired shape using the warmth of your hands.
- You can wrap food like cheese, vegetables, fruits, nuts, sandwiches, etc. Not good for wrapping meat.
- They can last for up to a year if you use them and treat them as per instructions. Then, you could re-wax.
Тrying to live a plastic-free lifestyle can be very challenging. The key is to actually try, not close your eyes and pretend like the problem does not exist. Small things make the great change. It might start with a beeswax wrap…