Food Less Plastic: DIY Reusable Food Wrap

DIY Reusable Plastic-Free Food Wrap

DIY Reusable Plastic-Free Food Wrap

Yes, you can live without clingfilm and plastic wrap! Make your own reusable fabric and beeswax food wrap. 

Did you know that you can replace plastic wrap and clingfilm (or whatever you call it) with fabric impregnated with beeswax? It’s true.

Inspired by posts at left-handed scissors and bcliving, I decided to give it a try and came up with an easy, no-mess system and solutions for my beginner mistakes.

What you’ll need:

  • Natural fiber fabric of your choice. I used some 100% cotton remnants I had on hand, but there are fabrics with much less impact than cotton – If you’re buying new, please consider an alternative to cotton. Synthetic fibers don’t blend well with beeswax, nor do you want them up close and personal with your food. Fibershed is a wonderful resource if you’re interested in the relationship between textiles, the environment, and local economies.
  • Beeswax. I highly recommend beeswax beads, since it’s much easier to get an even coating on the fabric when using small beads. If you can’t find them locally (try a natural foods store or candle supply shop), they’re easy to find online. You can use other forms of beeswax and grate the wax onto the fabric (use a cheese grater or vegetable peeler).
  • An oven, baking tray, and parchment paper.

What to do:

  • Wash and dry your fabric.
  • Cut the fabric into pieces of your desired shapes and sizes. I went with rectangles averaging 9″ x 10″, just the right size to cover my favorite casserole pans or wrap a kid-sized burrito. Use pinking shears to protect the edges from fraying.
  • Heat your oven to 150 F or whatever its lowest setting is.
  • Coat a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Set a piece of your fabric onto the parchment paper. I don’t know if it matters which side is facing up, if you’re using printed fabric – I made my first batch by putting the wax on the printed side, but there may be advantages to using the back side.
Fabric Sprinkled with Beeswax Beads

Fabric Sprinkled with A Few Too Many Beeswax Beads

  • Sprinkle beeswax beads over the entire surface of the fabric, adjusting as necessary to get coverage that’s as even as possible. You don’t need a bead on every millimeter of fabric, but you want enough to give full coverage once the wax melts. The best way to discover this is through experimentation. Use less than you think you’ll need; it’s easy to add more (and you can even take away excess – see below).
Fabric Sprinkled with the Right Amount of Beeswax Beads

Fabric Sprinkled with Just About the Right Amount of Beeswax Beads

  • Set wax and fabric carefully into your pre-heated oven for about 8 minutes, or until the was has melted and soaked into the fabric. Keep an eye on things starting at 7 minutes.
  • Remove tray from oven as soon as it’s ready, and inspect it to see if you achieved full wax coverage.
Fabric with Lighter Unwaxed Areas Showing

Fabric with Lighter Unwaxed Areas Showing

  • Are there areas that don’t have enough wax? Simply sprinkle on a bit more where it’s needed and pop it back into the oven. Bake for a few minutes longer, until this new wax has melted into place.
  • Are there areas with too much wax? Set a fresh, unwaxed piece of fabric on the baking tray below the one with too much wax. Set both sheets of fabric back into the hot oven for a few minutes, long enough to allow the excess wax to melt from the top sheet onto the bottom. Adjust the wax as needed on the bottom sheet – It may have a few bare spots that need fresh wax.
DIY Reusable Food Wrap Cooling

DIY Reusable Food Wrap Cooling

  • When each sheet is fully coated with melted wax, hang the fabric to cool on a clothes hanger fitted with two clothespins. Sheets will be hot when they first come out of the oven, so handle with care!
  • Once your food wrap sheets are cool, start using them. They can be wrapped around foods of all sorts; use the heat from your hands to soften the wax up if necessary. You can sew in snaps or ties as desired, or just go with the plain fabric.
Good for Pickles!

Good for Pickles!

I experimented with some juicy Kosher dill pickles and oranges – No juice leaked out through the fabric, and the folds I put in place held nicely.

Good for Oranges!

Good for Oranges!

I also use these to cover food in my fridge – The sheets bend into place to cover things like casseroles and fruit crisps, keeping the food underneath fresh and moist.

Good for Casserolesand Baked Goods!

Good for Casseroles and Baked Goods!

Hand wash sheets clean in cool tap water, using a mild soap (or a sprinkle of baking soda) and a soft scrubbing cloth or brush for heavily soiled areas.

Dry flat on the top of your dish rack or resting on a dish towel.

Expect some stains and creases over time. Stains are just part of the patina; think of them as proof of healthy plastic-free livin’. Creases, you can do something about: You can replenish the wax if desired after months of use, but it’s even easier to use the heat of your hands or a bit of warm (not hot) tap water to smooth creases out.

When your fabric food wrap sheets are finally worn out, set them in your compost pile or check with your municipal composting program if that’s how your neighborhood deals with food and organic waste.

DIY Reusable Plastic-Free Food Wrap

Food Wrap Less Plastic Can Be Pretty

Please let me know if you make up a batch of these – I’d love to know how they work for you.

7 comments on “Food Less Plastic: DIY Reusable Food Wrap

  1. I got so hooked up when I found this post in my Email inbox, I forgot to come here and tell you how much I’m loving it! Definitely a project on the list! – How can things be so simple and we never think about it?!?

  2. Just found your blog, love it!
    I have seen these for sale and was considering buying some, but now I will make them instead, thanks!

    Have you used these successfully in the freezer?
    I often bake muffins or bread and freeze them wrapped in plastic. I would love a plastic alternative, reusable would be a bonus!

    • Hi Mandy – Thanks! I haven’t used these yet in my freezer, so please let me know if you do, and how they work! My sense is that they will work well as a first protective layer, but they won’t seal anything in or out well enough for long-term freezer storage. I’ve been wrapping my home-baked goods in natural waxed paper, then putting them into the same plastic Ziploc-style bags I’ve had for going on 8 years now; it’s amazing how long they’ll last. I use Mason jars in my freezer a lot, but those don’t work so well for larger things like muffins or bread! I’m still looking for versatile plastic-free freezer storage options, too!

  3. I made these after seeing another tutorial but was searching for what to do about creases. I found my answer. This is such a genius cheap way to make biodegradable, awesome food wraps! So far I am loving them.

  4. I loved this post (Peter’s wife). I’d like to know what the alternatives to cotton are that you referred to. Would that be something like bamboo, milk fiber, etc? I’d love to know what your suggestions would be. I checked out Fibershed as well, but I didn’t see fabric there, only raw fibers. Thanks for the great info. Look forward to your answer!

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