Last week, I suggested DIY beeswax wraps as a handmade gift idea. Well, let me tell you. It has taken me A LOT of trial and error to get mine right. There are many ways to do them, I am pretty sure I have tried them all. This is not a stand-alone tutorial, but more meant to guide you as you try one of the myriad how-tos available online.
Materials: If you are new to the idea of beeswax wraps in general, don’t let the internet trick you into thinking all you need is beeswax. Most recipes suggest using pine resin and some kind of oil (usually coconut or jojoba). I used coconut because it’s what I had and it worked fine. In fact, I’m not sure it’s even necessary. What is essential, however, is the resin. Pine resin is what gives wax wraps their pliability and tackiness. Without these two properties, your wax wraps won’t mould around your food or stick closed and will basically be useless.
Pine resin often comes in chunks or large crystals. For best results, pound it in a bag with a rolling pin or meat mallet. The finer the powder, the better.
Depending on how you purchased your beeswax, you may need to grate it. Find an old grater you don’t care about to be your wax grater.
Method: I have found the way you make your wraps to be the biggest factor contributing to the success of your wraps. In the next section, I’ll lay out all the ways I tried to make wraps and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Depending on your set up, amount of time and materials you have, what worked best for me might not be the best for you.
- Parchment paper and iron:
- This method has you lay out some parchment paper, spread pellets of wax and resin on your fabric, lay down another layer of parchment, and then use your iron to melt it all.
- Pros: Most economical. You can really control how much wax gets into/onto your fabric and conserve. You’ve got all of the materials. The least messy so long as you don’t over do it on the wax.
- Cons: The iron doesn’t get hot enough to melt the resin. I had little crystalline resin deposits all over my wraps and they weren’t sticky or pliable at all.
- Double boiler:
- This method requires melting the wax in a double boiler pot and then sort of painting on the wax.
- Pros: I have no idea because I abandoned it before everything melted.
- Cons: It takes an age. It makes a mess of your pot. When off the heat, the resin starts to solidify before the wax does and ends up a sticky ball in your pot. I don’t even know why people bother.
- This method has you melting everything in the oven on an old cookie sheet. You can either start out with your fabric in the pan, or dip and drag after everything is melted.
- Pros: Most effective at getting the resin good and melted to mix with the wax.
- Cons: Pretty messy. I had a hard time holding the wet wrap up long enough to drip aaaaallll the excess off before moving it to my drying rack. I did this on our balcony and definitely had a bunch of wax drips. This is also the hardest to control the amount of wax on your wrap. Mine are pretty thick in places.
What worked best for me:
My best wraps were done in the oven. I put about 1 tsp of coconut oil, 1 Tbsp of pine resin powder and one small block of beeswax ( about a half pound or 200 grams). I didn’t grate it so I don’t know how much it is in cups. I preheated my oven to 200F and spread my ingredients in the pan. I find the wax and the resin don’t mix terribly well, so the more evenly distributed at the outset, the better. I let it all melt in the oven for about 20 minutes. By the 9-minute mark, the wax was melted, but the resin was not. Resin apparently has a higher melting point than wax which is why it can be so fiddly (and why the iron method did not work for me). Be careful not to crank your oven if you feel like things aren’t melting fast enough. I think I burnt my resin a bit when I got impatient.
Once melted, I tried to stir it a bit and then dipped my cotton. I used chopsticks to handle the wraps as best I could to not burn my fingers, but it was still tricky. When I had dripped as long I could, I hung them out on our clothes rack on our balcony. This batch is by far my best batch ever. We’re actually using them finally!
I want to take a quick minute to also talk about wax wrap maintenance. You can keep your wax wraps going basically forever with a little bit of periodic refreshing. When your wrap is looking cracked or a bit crusty, blast it with a hair dryer to warm it up and redistribute the wax (someone messaged me this tip on instagram and it is super quick and basically magic). When your wrap has been used a zillion times you can also just re-dip it and voila! ALSO you can 100 per cent fix wax wraps that you didn’t love. Instead of throwing out my first failed batch of rigid wraps, I put them in the oven with a bit more wax and some resin and completely fixed them.
Armed with my wisdom, you are ready to go make beeswax wraps for everyone you know and hopefully don’t have to try 17 times like I did. As always, I’m trying to make all the mistakes so you don’t have to.