We've been using beeswax wraps for quite a while now and like them so much we decided to start making our own.
We've tried two approaches, the first just 100 per cent beeswax from our beehives and the second with beeswax, pine resin and olive oil. The wax and resin makes a better wrap, albeit with a bit more work ... tally ho, here's what we did.
We harvested beeswax from our bees, but you can also just buy some.
We melted the harvested wax with water then pressed through a sieve and then muslin. We let it set and drained off the water, this left fairly clean beeswax. That yucky wax, cappings and occasional dead bee, turns into clean wax ready to be grated.
We experimented with simply grating beeswax on some cloth and putting it in the oven. Simple, a beeswax wrap. It worked, however it's not as sticky as we'd like it, being unable to mould and stick to complex shapes.
That said, it's good enough to keep a blue cheese in a carefully colour-coded blue wrap.
Enter the beeswax and resin wrap.
Mixing beeswax, pine resin and a bit of olive oil creates a superior wrap.
Pine resin wrap
The method is fairly straight forward.
- 5 parts beeswax
- 5 parts pine resin
- 1 part olive oil (or jojoba oil)
Pine resin is the sap of pine trees that is used as part of its healing process.
You can harvest your own, which we tried by visiting various pine trees and scraping dried globules of wax.
It was pretty slow going for me (not many pine trees around here) and harvested around 50 grams in an hour.
At some point, I decided to go and buy some from the art supply store for $50 for 500 grams - enough to last us a long time.
The wax, resin and olive oil is placed in a jar or saucepan in a double boiler (another saucepan of water). It takes a few hours for the whole mass to incorporate.
The pine resin forms a toffee like texture for a while before dissolving into the wax.
Once the mixture is melted and combined it can be used immediately or stored for later, simply re-melt at a later point.
Fun fact: beeswax and pine resin makes pine salve, apparently good for wounds and abrasions.
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We searched the material box and also scoured the tip-shop for nice cotton scraps.
We washed the cotton and dried each piece of material.
To apply the wax mixture we used a paint brush to paint onto the cotton. Under each section of cotton we put some greaseproof paper to stop it sticking to the table. On some materials the wax mixture did not penetrate the material.
We placed each wrap in the oven at 100 degrees Celsius for around five minutes. This let the wax mix fully into the wrap.
Afterwards we trimmed the rough edges of the wraps to clean them up a bit.
We've had our wraps for around two years and they're still working well. There's also no transference of any pine smell onto the food.
You can just use warm soapy water to wash them, like you wash the rest of your dishes.
How cool is this stuff - it's tacky, it's sticky, it moulds to shape and holds in place.
- Hannah Moloney and Anton Vikstrom are the founders of Good Life Permaculture, a landscape design and education enterprise regenerating land and lifestyles.