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Beginners Guide to Beeswax Food Wraps
Since plastic was first created in a mass-producible form in 1907, it has invaded every aspect of modern life. Undeniably a scientific marvel, this useful synthetic material represents the intelligence and ingenuity of the human race but, unfortunately, it also represents our short-sightedness, our disrespect for nature and our laziness.
Though we are no longer blind to the damage plastic does to our environment, we continue to produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic every year, a staggering 50% of which is destined for single-use purposes. The cost of this momentary plastic use is centuries of suffering for our planet, especially our oceans, as more than 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped in our waters annually.
We are living in a period of crisis. Our irresponsible and uncaring attitude towards plastic has already proven to have consequences more far-reaching than we ever expected, but there are things we can do to change this.
For example, scientists have found other forms of packaging for companies to use to protect their goods before selling them. While these large scale projects are making headway in the fight against single-use plastics, there is still much that can be done by the individual. You don’t have to be a multi-million dollar business to affect change; that can be done by everyone.
One of the easiest swaps you can make in the home to limit your plastic usage is from cling film to beeswax wraps for food. While both options successfully protect your food, only one choice will shelter the environment from additional plastic pollution.
What are Beeswax Wraps?
Beeswax food wraps serve as a long-lasting, reusable plastic wrap alternative to items such as cling film. Made from a thin sheet of consciously-sourced cotton that is coated in a mixture of natural beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, beeswax wraps for food naturally achieves everything that plastic wraps can.
How Do I Use Beeswax Wraps?
Beeswax wraps are incredibly easy to use due to the malleable and adhesive nature of beeswax. In order to activate these properties, simply warm up the beeswax wraps by rubbing it in between your hands, then carefully mould the now malleable wrap around your food. Due to its natural stickiness, this eco-friendly wrap is also self-sealing, meaning that your food will be properly protected.
Once your food is securely wrapped up, you can place it in the fridge where the wrap will harden. Because of the cold, the beeswax wrap will maintain its shape until it is returned to room temperature.
What can Beeswax Wraps be Used for?
Just like plastic food wraps, beeswax wraps are used primarily to keep food fresh, but that’s not all. For instance, beeswax wraps may be used to:
- Mould around fruit and vegetables that have been cut open in order to keep it fresh.
- Wrap around sandwiches to store in the fridge or to protect when packed for travelling.
- Stop your cheese from going hard by wrapping up and storing it in the fridge.
- Wrap up food and store it in the freezer for up to one month.
- Cover bread dough whilst it is rising, and for other fermenting food.
While these are the most common uses for these eco-friendly wraps, there is nothing stopping you from getting a little creative! Here are some suggestions made by The Beeswax Wrap Co. for more creative uses of your wraps:
- Craft a piping bag for your baking needs.
- Utilise the natural stickiness of wraps to open stubborn jars and bottles.
- Wrap up your toothbrush and bar of soap when travelling.
- Craft a small box or pouch to store things in.
- Keep an open bottle of wine fresh.
The uses of beeswax wraps are almost endless but there are some rules to follow:
- Do not use the wraps for raw meat of fish in order to protect you from any cross-contamination that could occur when it is used afterwards.
- Do not wrap anything highly acidic or oily for an extended period of time as this could damage the wraps by breaking down the wax.
- Do not cover hot food with the wraps. Make sure to wait for any food to cool first as excessive heat can melt the wax.
How to Care for Your Beeswax Wraps
One of the biggest benefits of using beeswax wraps instead of cling film or other plastic alternatives is that beeswax wraps are reusable. Of course, this significant advantage means that you need to spend some extra time looking after your wraps to ensure they last as long as they can. Fortunately, this can be done in three easy steps:
- Cleaning: After using your wraps, be sure to keep them clean by hand-washing them in cold water. It is important to use cold water instead of hot as the heat will cause the wax to desaturate and pull it from the cotton. While this gentle wash will usually be enough to maintain the best beeswax wrap hygiene, you can also use a mild, alcohol-free soap. Once your wrap is clean, simply dry it softly with a towel or leave it to air dry.
- Storing: While the safest and best place to store your beeswax wraps is a cool place that is out of direct sunlight, it is important that they are also kept in a cupboard you frequently visit. The hardest part of swapping from plastic wraps to beeswax wraps is getting into the habit of reaching for the wraps in the first place so, while you are still training yourself, try storing them in a place they are easily seen, or even right next to your cling film.
- Refreshing: While beeswax wraps are reusable and maintain their natural stickiness for a long time, this property will eventually diminish; however, that is not the end of its shelf life. What makes beeswax wraps so amazing is that once their stickiness starts to fade, the wrap can be easily refreshed in order to extend its use. There are a number of ways to do this, but the most popular is to wrap it around baking parchment and place it in the oven for 3-4 minutes at 60 degrees, and then shake the wrap until it cools. Similarly, you can place the wrap between two sheets of baking parchment and heat it with an iron then, shaking until it is cool. These processes help to re-melt the wax and revive its natural stickiness. Alternatively, wraps can also be refreshed by grating a bar of beeswax and sprinkling the shavings evenly over the cotton, then heating it to melt. Re-waxing your beeswax wraps is a great way to make it last for as long as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions about Beeswax Wraps
Beeswax food wraps have undoubtedly soared in popularity in the last decade as people have searched for ways to limit their personal contributions to the plastic pollution crisis. As a result, the internet has become inundated with questions from people considering making the switch. To help you make an informed decision, here are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers about beeswax wraps.
1. Can Beeswax Wraps go in the microwave?
Microwaving beeswax wraps became a popular way of refreshing the natural stickiness of the wax, but this method is dangerous. The safest ways to refresh your wraps is by placing them on a sheet of baking paper in the oven for 3-4 minutes at 60 degrees, or by ironing them between two sheets of baking paper. This melts the wax safely and is much less temperamental than risking the microwave.
2. Are Beeswax Wraps hygienic?
By taking care of it well, beeswax wraps remain hygienic. It is important to clean the wraps everytime after they have been in contact food. To do so, wash the wraps carefully in cold water and mild, alcohol-free soap.
3. Are Beeswax Wraps antibacterial?
Beeswax has natural antibacterial properties that make it the perfect substitute for plastic food wraps. It should be noted, however, that soy wax wraps, another eco-friendly alternative to plastic wraps, do not share these antibacterial properties and should be used only under recommended circumstances.
4. How many times can you use Beeswax Wraps?
There is no limit to how many times you can use your beeswax wraps. That’s part of their appeal! As long as you follow the step-by-step care instructions to ensure you look after your wraps, they can be used every day and will continue to protect your food and keep it fresh.
5. How long do Beeswax Wraps last?
There’s no fixed lifespan for beeswax wraps as this is largely dependent on how much they are used and how well they are looked after but, used daily and refreshed every few months, they can last for up to a whole year!
6. How do you dispose of Beeswax Wraps?
One of the biggest benefits of using beeswax wraps instead of plastic wraps lies in the disposal stage. While cling film is exceedingly difficult to recycle, beeswax wraps are fully biodegradable so you can easily cut them up and place them in the compost. Alternatively, beeswax is naturally waterproof and slow burning, which makes beeswax wraps the perfect eco-friendly firelighters when they reach the end of their long lifespans.
Plastic Wraps VS. Beeswax Wraps
In the fight between plastic wraps and beeswax wraps, there are very few battles that wax cannot win. The most obvious comparison that favours beeswax wraps over its plastic competitors is reusability. While plastic wraps like cling film is a one-time use, beeswax wraps can last up to a full year with proper care. One long-term effect of this, depending on how often you use them, is that beeswax wraps are comparatively cheaper. This means that using beeswax wraps saves you money while also protecting the environment!
Additionally, beeswax wraps are made from natural resources that can be returned to the Earth once it has reached the end of its shelf life; however, the afterlife of plastic comes with endless dangers. From the highly toxic chemicals plastic can release when left in landfills and incinerators, to the harmful contaminated pieces of microplastic that marine animals frequently eat, the consequences of using plastic food wraps is incredibly severe and far-reaching.
Where Can I Purchase Beeswax Wraps?
As the demand for eco-friendly alternatives to plastic wraps has increased alongside our awareness of the dangers of single-use plastics, so too has the supply for beeswax wraps. As such, there are plenty of places to purchase these long-lasting wraps. Check out this list of the five best beeswax wraps of 2020 published by Spruce Eats for some more information. Alternatively, take a look at a type of beeswax food wrap listed on Purple Turtle’s own website!
What are your thoughts on beeswax food wraps? Have you already made the switch? Let us know in the comments below!
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