Beeswax Food Wraps – Possible Alternative to Film Wraps

Jan 20, 2024

Beeswax cloth cover food
Beeswax cloth presents a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to plastic film wraps. In contrast to plastic wraps that contribute to pollution and have a slow decomposition process lasting years, beeswax wraps naturally break down, mitigating their environmental impact. Unlike plastic wrap, which is typically non-biodegradable and can persist in the environment for extended periods, beeswax wraps offer a more environmentally conscious choice. The prolonged breakdown time of many plastic products, spanning hundreds of years, raises significant environmental concerns.

When purchasing or using beeswax food wraps, it's essential to check with the manufacturer to ensure that the materials and ingredients used comply with safety standards for food contact. Some manufacturers may provide information on their product packaging or websites regarding the safety and composition of their beeswax wraps.

The Pros:

Environmentally Friendly: Beeswax cloth is a sustainable and biodegradable option. Unlike plastic wraps, which contribute to pollution and take years to decompose, beeswax wraps break down naturally, reducing the environmental impact. Plastic wrap is generally not biodegradable, and it can persist in the environment for a long time. Many plastic products take hundreds of years to break down, leading to environmental concerns.

Reusable: One of the significant advantages of beeswax cloth is its reusability. With proper care, these wraps can be used for up to a year. This reduces the need for single-use plastics, contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Breathable and Flexible: Beeswax wraps are breathable, allowing food to stay fresh for longer periods without the risk of condensation. They are also flexible and can easily conform to the shape of various containers, providing a versatile alternative to plastic wrap.

Natural Preservation:  The antimicrobial properties of beeswax and jojoba oil help preserve food naturally. This can extend the shelf life of certain products and reduce food waste.

Customizable: Beeswax wraps are available in various sizes and patterns, allowing users to choose wraps that suit their needs and preferences. This adds a touch of personalization to sustainable living.

The Cons:

Limited Lifespan: While beeswax wraps are reusable, they do have a limited lifespan. After extended use, the wraps can lose their effectiveness, and the beeswax coating may wear off, requiring replacement.

Not Suitable for All Foods: Beeswax wraps are not recommended for use with raw meat or hot items, as the heat can melt the wax coating. This limitation may affect their practicality in certain cooking and food storage scenarios.

Initial Cost: The upfront cost of purchasing beeswax wraps may be higher compared to traditional plastic wrap. However, the long-term savings from reusability can offset this initial investment.

Care and Maintenance:   Beeswax wraps require proper care to maintain their functionality. Cleaning them with cold water and mild soap is necessary, and they should be stored away from heat sources to prevent the wax from melting.

Limited Availability: While the popularity of beeswax wraps is increasing, they may not be as readily available as traditional plastic wrap in all locations. This could pose a challenge for those looking to make an immediate switch.

DIY: Making your own beeswax cloths is a rewarding and sustainable DIY project that allows you to reduce waste and customize the wraps according to your needs. Here's a simple step-by-step guide on how to make your own beeswax cloths:

The recipe ration for making beeswax cloths can vary based on personal preference and the desired characteristics of the wraps.  However, a commonly used ration is: Beeswax 1 part, Jojoba Oil 1 part, Tree Resin typically around ¼ to ½ part.  This is the general guideline, and you can adjust the ratio based on factors such as the fabric type, the level of stickiness you desire, and the climate in your area.  Keep in mind that adding more tree resin can increase the tackiness of the wraps.

When melting these ingredients together, it's essential to achieve a smooth mixture and to start with a small batch to test the results.  It's a bit of trial and error until you end up with the results you desire.

Materials Needed:

Cotton Fabric: Choose a lightweight, 100% cotton fabric. Cut it into the desired sizes for your wraps. Popular choices include squares or rectangles ranging from small to large.

Beeswax: The primary ingredient.  It provides the wraps with a water-resistant and protective coating. Purchase natural and pure beeswax. You can find beeswax in blocks, pellets, or grated form. Ensure it is free from additives and other substances.

Jojoba Oil: Adds Flexibility to the wraps, preventing them from becoming too stiff. It also helps in distributing the wax evenly on fabric. It's an important ingredient in the wax mixture. Get a high-quality, organic jojoba oil.

Tree Resin (Optional): Improves the adhesiveness of the wraps. If you prefer wraps that stick firmly to surfaces, you can add a small amount of food grade tree resin. While optional, it can be added for improved adhesion. Look for food-grade resin.

Parchment Paper: Protect your work surface by using parchment paper during the waxing process.

Grater and Double Boiler:  A grater for grating bulk beeswax and a double boiler for melting beeswax works well.

Brush or Cloth: A brush or old cloth is needed to evenly distribute the wax mixture onto the fabric.


Cut Fabric: Cut your cotton fabric into the desired sizes. Make sure the fabric is clean and free from any residues.

Prepare Work Area: Cover your work surface with parchment paper to protect it from the beeswax. Ensure good ventilation.

Melt Beeswax:  If using a grater, grate the beeswax. If using a double boiler, melt the beeswax. Add jojoba oil (and tree resin if desired) to the melted beeswax and stir well to create a smooth mixture.

Apply Wax Mixture: Place a fabric piece on the parchment paper. Using a brush or cloth, evenly distribute the wax mixture over the fabric. Make sure to cover the entire surface, reaching the edges.

Remove Excess Wax: Lift the fabric and allow excess wax to drip off. You want a thin, even coating. Be careful not to oversaturate the fabric.

Set and Cool: Allow the wraps to cool and the wax to solidify. This usually takes a few minutes. You can hang them or lay them flat during this process.

Test and Adjust: Once cooled, test the wraps by folding and shaping them around various items. If needed, you can add more wax to areas that may seem thin.

Store and Use: Your homemade beeswax cloths are now ready to use. Store them in a cool place and use them for wrapping food, covering containers, or any other use you would typically use plastic wrap for.

Care and Maintenance:
- Wash the wraps with mild soap and cold water. Avoid hot water, as it can melt the wax.
- Air-dry the wraps after washing.
- Refresh the wraps by reapplying the wax mixture if they lose their stickiness over time.

In conclusion, beeswax cloth offers a promising eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap, with its reusable and biodegradable nature.  However, users should be aware of its limitations, such as a finite lifespan and specific usage restrictions.  Ultimately, incorporating beeswax wraps into daily life can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious lifestyle, provided users are willing to embrace the learning curve associated with their used.

Please check out Part I – Call to Action: Unveiling the Shocking Reality of Kitchen Waste                                                     Part II - Call to Action: What We Can Do in Our Home Kitchens

Image by Rika Cossey from Pixabay