DIY Beeswax Wraps for Trail Snacks with Patagonia
One of the best ways to avoid trash on our trails is to not carry it out in the first place. Employing reusable non-toxic, biodegradable and breathable beeswax snack wraps is a convenient, planet-friendly solution. Beeswax is a naturally occurring byproduct sourced from honeybees. It is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial, and when applied to a piece of fabric, beeswax creates a moldable, foldable wrapper. Simply warm it with your hands and then pinch to naturally seal the edges.
It’s easy to find beeswax wraps at your local grocery store, but if you have a retired tee shirt it can become a beeswax wrap too, with just a few ingredients and a bit of time.
These beeswax wraps were created in partnership with my friends at Patagonia.
To make your own bees wax wraps, you’ll need:
- Organic beeswax
- Beeswax can be shaved from a block or purchased in pellet form. I used white pellets made for crafting, but yellow wax will also work. Wax can be purchased from a local beekeeper but be sure it has been triple-filtered to ensure a clean product.
- Natural food quality pine rosin
- All-natural organic jojoba oil
- Pre-washed natural 100% cotton, linen, or hemp fabric. A light-to-medium weight fabric is best for breathability; an old tea towel, cloth napkin, pillowcase, t-shirt, or flour sack can live a whole new life as a bees’ wax wrap! (I used an old cotton tee shirt!)
- Scissors or pinking shears, to cut fabric to size
- Kitchen scale for accurately weighing materials
- Parchment paper for laying out wraps
- Sheet pan and oven to finish wraps
- Medium sauce pot for double boiler to warm the wax mixture
- Twine and clothespins, wire hanger or other drying rack to hang finished wraps.
- Ruler (optional)
- Glass mason jar or bowl for double boiler for the wax mixture
- Paintbrush for applying wax to fabric.
- Wooden dowel, tongue depressor or other compostable stirrer for mixing ingredients
Note that your materials will retain wax and rosin from your process, and while they can be washed to remove it this can be a tedious process so it’s best to use materials that can be dedicated to your “bees wax wrap-making process.” Once you realize how easy it is to make your own wraps, you’ll surely make them again!
What size do I cut my fabric?
Keep in mind you can cut your wraps to any size that will fit inside the parchment of a baking sheet. If you have a particular container in mind that you often use, simply turn it over onto your fabric and mark or cut around it allowing for 1-1 1/2” excess around the edge to ensure a proper fit and seal.
- Ideal for covering the top of a cup or mason jar, wrapping half an apple, and toting nuts or cookies for travel.
- 11×11” (most versatile!)
- This medium sheet can be used to cover a smaller-sized bowl, wrap a small sandwich to go, or store other small to medium vegetables like a half/partial head of cabbage or squash.
- 14×14” (great for larger items!)
- This larger size can be used to cover half a modest watermelon or squash, average pie pan, or a medium mixing bowl for proofing/chilling cookie dough or sourdough.
- 16×16” or larger
- An extra-large homemade beeswax wrap is used for larger items like pre-made meals or overnight rolls. They also work great to wrap up a homemade sourdough loaf or tote a small batch of brownies for a group hike.
With the instructions and quantities below, I created 5 beeswax wraps of varying sizes which I cut from an old t-shirt. Be creative with your fabric choice and give new life to old textiles!
Let’s make your beeswax wraps!
Your master bees’ wax wrap formula:
- 2-parts beeswax (4 ounces / 113 grams)
- 1-part pine resin (2 ounces / 56 grams)
- 1-part jojoba (2 ounces / 56 grams)
The ratio I used in this recipe was adapted from a comprehensive tutorial by Empress of Dirt which you can access here.
- Measure out the ingredients listed above.
- Wash and dry your fabric. Then cut into desired shapes/sizes.
- Preheat oven to 225℉.
- Add water to the saucepan until the mixture in the double boiler is below the waterline. This is different from making a double boiler for chocolate where you don’t want the chocolate to burn. The ingredients in this recipe are much firmer and will need lots of heat to liquefy.
- Add ingredients to double boiler and set to medium-high heat. Stir ingredients until a cohesive mixture is formed (20-25 minutes). Remove from heat but don’t throw out the hot water quite yet. If your mixture begins to solidify you can place the double boiler back in the water to reheat.
- Line a large cookie sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper. Be sure the parchment is larger than your largest piece of fabric so that the wax mixture doesn’t melt onto the pan. A second piece of parchment can be useful as a holding space for fabric while hanging pieces to dry as we work.
- If making different-sized sheets, lay flat your largest piece of fabric onto the parchment. If your fabric pieces are smaller you can lay flat a few at a time, just be sure the edges of your parchment extend beyond the edges of your fabric.
- Holding the fabric from one corner (the mixture will be quite tacky), use a paintbrush to brush the wax mixture over the entire fabric on one side. Less is more here as we can always add more mixture once heated in the oven.
- Place the coated fabric into the oven for 2 minutes or until the fabric looks wet. (The wax mixture will soak easily into lightweight natural fabrics so only one side needs to be saturated prior to drying).
- Remove from the oven and check for dry spots. Spot-treat as necessary then place back into the oven for another 2 minutes to melt the mixture evenly. A bit of excess is okay here because we will use the next fabric sheet to soak up any additional wax mixture.
- Once the fabric is fully coated, place the next sheet of fabric on top of the ‘finished’ wrap. Quickly and gently run your finger across the top of the dry fabric to soak up any excess wax.
- Once the excess wax has been transferred to the dry piece, peel apart the still-wet finished fabric and hang it immediately to dry.
- Repeat this process by laying the next fabric (which was used to soak up the excess from the last piece) flat onto the sheet pan and follow steps 8-10 until all fabric has been coated.
- The finished wax wraps will dry quickly once hung, at which point they are ready for use! If they feel too rigid, you can wash them in lukewarm water to make them a bit more pliable.
Notes on food storage, washing, and maintaining your wraps:
- Leftover wax can be poured into small silicone molds and saved for touch-ups and re-applications later.
- Wraps will be quite tacky and stiff at first but will soften after a few washes. If tackiness deteriorates and no longer forms a seal to itself or other containers, they can be spot-treated or replenished entirely using the steps listed in this post.
- Beeswax wraps should not be used on highly perishable foods like raw meats or fine cheeses. Products like blue cheese or raw meat can leave residue or bacteria which may contaminate other foods. For these items, stick to reusable plastic or glass containers.
- It is not recommended to use beeswax wraps to store foods for infants or the immunocompromised, just to be safe.
- Heat melts wax. For this reason, do not use beeswax wraps when storing hot liquids or foods. Avoid washing in the dishwasher and do not leave it unattended for long periods of time in the sunlight.
- Beeswax wraps can be washed with gentle soap and cool or lukewarm water. To dry your wax wraps, lay them flat on a towel or drying rack or pinch gently in the center to form a tent, then allow them to air dry.
- Beeswax wraps may leave a residue on some dishes but this result will fade over time with washing and wear. To remove this residue from glass or metal surfaces, scrub gently with a bit of baking soda and warm water.
- Beeswax wraps can be purchased from a sustainable supplier like ZeroWasteStore or even on Amazon. Making your own beeswax wraps is a fun and simple DIY using a few natural and easy-to-source ingredients.