How to Make Reusable Food Wrap

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Reusable Food Wrap

What can be used in place of plastic wrap in the kitchen???

We’ve had this discussion several times with readers and facebook fans. Finally (thanks to a facebook friend Barry F!), I learned about a simple way to make a reusable food wrap to replace plastic wrap and waxed paper.

We have been using reusable cloth bags for a while now – a great replacement for zip-top plastic bags. But until now, I still had not found a way to completely eliminate plastic wrap or waxed paper from our arsenal of wasteful kitchen products. Inspired by this blog post about DIY beeswax food wrap, I decided I needed to hurry and give it a shot in case it was the kitchen miracle I had been looking for.

Well, it may not be a miracle, but I can already see the awesome potential this plastic alternative has. Read on – I know you’ll be inspired to make your own!

DIY reusable food wrap

Things you’ll need

  • cotton material
  • pinking shears (find these here)
  • parchment paper (large roll, 15″ wide, works best) (find it here)
  • beeswax beads or pellets, find them online here or here – (I found very fine white beeswax beads in the bulk section at my local health food store. Yellow beads will discolor light fabrics, but are more unrefined and probably healthier to use for this project. You can also use grated beeswax with great results.)
  • iron (find one here if you don’t have one)
  • large cutting board (or other flat surface covered with newspaper or drop cloth) (find one here)

Step 1

Wash and dry fabric. Using pinking shears to reduce fraying, cut several squares from your cotton material. I cut several different sizes – some large enough to cover large pans, and others to wrap small food items.

Reusable Food Wrap 1

Step 2

Choose a large flat work surface and make sure to cover it with something that can withstand heat. (I used an old giant cutting board.) Tear off two equally-sized sheets of parchment paper, both bigger than your largest pre-cut cloth square. Tape one piece of parchment to your work surface.

Step 3

Place one pre-cut cloth square on top of your taped-down parchment paper. Sprinkle beeswax beads evenly over cloth square, making sure to cover all the way to edges.

Reusable Food Wrap 2

Step 4

Place second sheet of parchment paper over the top. With a hot iron (I used the cotton setting), gently iron over the top of the parchment paper, going back and forth a few times. (You may want to make a mark on the underside of your top sheet of parchment paper – the side that comes into contact with the wax. This will prevent you from ironing on the waxy side and getting gunk on your iron.)

Reusable Food Wrap 3

Note: Alternatively, you can use the oven instead of an iron to make your reusable food wrap. I didn’t want to turn my oven on in the summertime to individually bake 16 squares of fabric – but feel free if you would prefer this method. Use the suggestions in this article as a guideline.

Step 5

Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and inspect your work. Areas that did not get enough beeswax will be lighter in color. (Notice the lighter areas on the purple fabric in the picture below.) Simply sprinkle a small amount of wax on those areas, cover with parchment paper, and iron again. If your cloth has too much wax on it, you can put another piece of fabric on top, place parchment over both of them, and iron gently. The top piece of fabric will soak up some of the wax. Note: Having too much wax is better than not having enough. Using too little wax will allow your food wrap to leak when wrapping juicy foods. 

Reusable Food Wrap 4

Step 6

Carefully remove the hot fabric from your work surface and hang to dry. Fabric will stiffen as it dries.

Reusable Food Wrap 5

Go ahead and use your new reusable food wrap once it is cooled and dry! You can cover pans/casserole dishes with it, or wrap your food tightly in it. I love to wrap my blocks of cheese, folding the food wrap as if I am wrapping a gift. See how nicely it holds its shape?

Reusable Food Wrap 6

As an added bonus, when you wrap food for school lunches or picnics, this beeswax food wrap doubles as a placemat! Then family members can simply fold it up into a tight square and return it home to be washed and reused.

Reusable Food Wrap 7

Caring for your reusable food wrap & other considerations

After use, hand wash your food wrap with cool water and homemade dish soap (or another mild dish soap). Avoid using hot water so the wax doesn’t melt. Allow to air dry on a dish rack. Smooth flat with your hands and store.

You can add more wax (using the above method) once your food wrap is looking worn out and is no longer keeping its shape.

We have found after using this food wrap that it is not completely waterproof or airtight. It does a wonderful job covering casseroles and baked goodies, or wrapping items such as cheese, veggies, sandwiches, cookies, and many other food items. It is not meant for extremely wet or juicy foods, as there will be some leakage in these cases. It works best for short term food storage (less than a few days) and for packing lunches. Because it’s somewhat breathable, your food will not retain moisture if used for long term storage.

What’s the point of making your own?

So if you’re reading this tutorial and wondering why in the sam hill you should try this project, consider these reasons:

  • Reusable food wrap is a more sustainable option, preventing toxic plastics from having to be produced.
  • It can be washed and reused many times, creating less waste.
  • It’s healthier for you to wrap your food in this beeswax fabric rather than having plastic wrapped around your food.
  • You’ll save money if you use reusable food wrap instead of purchasing commercial food wrap.

Have you tried something similar to this? What do you like most about the idea?

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Betsy Jabs

About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebook, Twitter, and her +Betsy Jabs Google profile.

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Comments

  1. Lisa B says

    This may be silly but…….which side is the inside? Like does the food touch the fabric side or the wax side? Thx!

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Not a silly question Lisa! The beeswax melts through the entire fabric, so really both sides end up being a wax side. However, since I’m a little OCD, I melted the wax on the unprinted side of the fabric, and use this as the inside of the wrap.

  2. Karen Wood says

    HI. I like them and they are so pretty. I want to mention another method for applying the wax. You can melt the wax by putting it in a heat proof container (such as a half pint, wide mouth jar) in a pan of water over low heat, then Paint the wax onto the fabric with a suitable brush. This is one way to do batik. The wax will be heavy but not too bad and excess can be ironed out between sheets of newspaper or packing paper. You could iron out several at a time. This method quickly and easily saturates the fabric completely. I was also thinking of drawstring rounds and bags. The rounds would be good place mats also.

  3. Marilyn Smith says

    I just tried the iron method from your post – it works MUCH better than in the oven. I use bees wax pastilles from Mountain Rose Herbs which can be tricky for oven method. The iron method lets me control both melt rate and spread of wax easily. I reuse my parchment. I love these wraps. My first test was wrapping a cut yellow onion for several days – no odor leak or residual smell on wax. Thanks for posting this 🙂

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      I’m glad you loved this method Marilyn! The onion test is the ultimate! Thanks so much for returning to share with everyone. 🙂

  4. Kathi Weiss says

    I have been making reuseable food wraps and snack bags for a few years now using PUL. I line the PUL with hemp jersey. That way, even though the polyurethane is supposed to be food safe, my food is not sitting directly on the PUL. I seal them with velcro. I was selling them until I received a Cease and Desist Order from the Wrap N Mat Company. I still make and use them myself. I also make bowl covers out of the PUL fabric.

    • Linda says

      Kathi I would be interested in hearing more about selling your food wraps. I am a quilter with a shop on ETSY would like to sell these. Please email me so that we can talk about this.

  5. Riversana says

    What a great idea! I just bought two packs (3 in each) of cheap reusable sandwich baggies from the Target Dollar Aisle, but they feel like they’ll fall apart in the first wash and stink so strongly of plastic that I don’t want to use them without washing first! Guess that’s what I get for being soo cheap;) I’m thinking that those with a good food processor could grate their chunks of beeswax or pellets even finer for more even dispersal over the fabric. Love your fabric choices, especially the green teardrop one. Where did you find them?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      I hate to say this, because I normally boycott WalMart, but yes, I found my fabric at WalMart. 🙂 They were small pieces of pre-cut fabric for quilting.

  6. Victoria says

    Also, at work we have shower caps for free, so i often take some home to use to cover bowls etc. in the fridge. This would be way better with your fabric idea. If I had a sewing machine, I’d make round ones and sew elastic around the edges.

  7. Victoria says

    I absolutely love this idea! Not sure if anyone mentioned it, but if you prefer you can also buy a round of beeswax and rub it into the fabric. After that you’d simply blow dry it. That would eliminate the need for the parchment paper and you can get chunks of the wax pretty easily. Overall wonderful idea! Kudos!

  8. Lindsay Kittleson says

    This is such a great solution to a problem I’ve been trying to solve for awhile now. I especially love the idea of wrapping my cheeses from the cheese counter in it. I try to buy things with little to no packaging, but the plastic cheese wrapping has always stumped me. I’m excited to try these! Where is a good place to find the beeswax beads? Thanks for the tip!

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Yeah, it works great for cheese as long as it’s just short term storage (as stated in the article). I have found that it allows the cheese to get hard if storing for a week or more. Information on the best places to find the beeswax beads is under the “Things You’ll Need” section in the article. Have fun making these!

  9. elena says

    Did you put beeswax on both sides of the fabric? If not, Which side did you wax? The printed side or the reverse? Is the beeswax side the side touching the food?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      When heated, the beeswax soaks through the fabric, coating the whole thing. I did sprinkle the beeswax on the non-printed side of the fabric, although I don’t think it matters which side.

  10. Teadye says

    The best way for storing cheese is to place an absorbent cloth (uncoated natural fiber) lightly moistened with vinegar on a plate, put the cheese on this and cover with an upsidedown bowl that fits over the cheese (or buy a cheese dome.) The vinegar keeps the cheese from drying out and also from developing that ammonia smell. You can also wrap the cheese in the vinegar cloth if your dome doesn’t fit well enough to keep it from drying out. Cheap white vinegar works as good as anything and you can use it clean your house!

  11. Lori says

    How do these get clean when washing with cold water? Wouldn’t there be lots of bacteria left on them growing without being able to use hot water? Also, what about stuff like the PB&J in the picture? The oily nut butter seems like it would be impossible to get off without hot water. The conce[t seems really cool, but I can’t figure out how to use it more than once (which of course defeats the purpose) cleanly. Thanks!!

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Good question Lori! Do you ever wash laundry in cold water? Same concept. Just be sure to use soap when hand washing these to wash off bacteria. They actually come clean very well. I have had pizza sauce stain one of mine, but things like pb&j surprisingly wash off nicely.

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