How to Clean Beeswax Wraps – Caring For Your Eco-Food Storage Solution
We think conscious consumption is the bees-knees.
You know what else we think is the bees-knees?
The plastic-free food storage solution eliminating cling film and plastic wrappers. The days of single-use products are coming to an end and we’re all about that.
We know we’re preaching to the choir here but we can’t help but sing this reusable product’s praises (or any reusable products’ praises for that matter).
Stepping off our soap box for a minute, let’s discuss an important part of being a conscious consumer. Which is learning to care for your products so they last as long as possible.
After all, longevity goes hand in hand with sustainable living.
In this context, it’s learning how to clean beeswax wraps so you can endlessly wrap away (food not that beat box party ticky).
So read on if you want to learn how to clean, dry, repair, re-wax, store and generally just care for your beeswax food wraps. And if you’re interested in some beeswax wraps alternatives head down to the bottom of the article.
1. What Are Beeswax Wraps?
There’s no mystery here.
Beeswax wraps are simply pieces of fabric coated with…you guessed it, beeswax!
They can be used to wrap food, or placed over bowls or other containers to keep food fresher for longer.
Coating fabric with wax is nothing new. In fact, the ancient Egyptians knew how to preserve food at home using this exact method.
But as time marched on, waxed fabrics were largely replaced – first with waxed paper and then with plastic wraps in the mid 20th Century.
Unfortunately, as you can imagine, these new innovations introduced a range of issues.
From 1876, beeswax and other natural waxes were all but replaced with paraffin – a petroleum-based product that is environmentally costly, to say the least.
These new plastic wrapping kids on the block – PVC, LDPE, and PvdC – allowed consumers to store food for longer at peak freshness. As we now know, however, plastics are harmful to people and the planet.
And, like that uninvited guest, they tend to stick around. For like 600 years.
The irony is, beeswax wraps are an ancient solution to a modern problem. They cut food waste and eliminate the use of single-use plastics.
And the good news?
They’re making a comeback!
Beeswax wraps are flexible and can be moulded around any container creating a near air-tight seal to reduce food spoilage. What’s more is that scientists have found the propolis in beeswax wraps contain antibacterial properties.
As a plastic-free product, organic cotton beeswax wraps is an easy sustainable swap for anyone striving for a zero waste lifestyle and they can last a long time when properly cared for.
When they do finally reach the end of their useful life, put them in your indoor compost bin and return the compost to the natural environment.
2. How Long Do Beeswax Wraps Last?
When properly cleaned and cared for, beeswax wraps can last for years. They are the antithesis of disposable single-use products.
The key thing to remember, however, is that without a bit of TLC, they won’t last as long as they should.
Which is why we’ve put together a list of tips to help you make sure that your beeswax wraps keep on wrapping (like Ice-T).
3. How To Clean Your Beeswax Wraps
- Steer clear of heat: Beeswax wraps don’t link heat. The wax coating is designed to respond to gentle body heat as you mould it around foods or over the top of a container. But if things heat up too much, the wax will liquefy and come off entirely. For this reason, it’s important to avoid washing beeswax wraps in hot water. People often wonder – can you wash beeswax wraps? Yes, but ideally you should hand wash them and in tepid water only.
- Avoid harmful chemicals and dishwashing liquid: Harsh chemicals, dishwashing liquid, bleach, or astringent substances like vinegar and excessive abrasion will also wear away the coating on which these products depend.
- Use natural, gentle soaps: A natural Castile soap though can be ideal. You can create a lather with your dishcloth in warm water while gently wiping down the beeswax wrap as you would other food containers or plates. Remember minimal pressure is key to avoid damaging the coating on the fabric and to clean beeswax food warps properly.
4. How to Care For Your Beeswax Wraps
Cleaning is not the only element of care when you’re trying to extend the life of your beeswax wraps.
Think about how and where you use your wraps, how you dry them, where you store them, and how you can re-wax and repair those which are no longer wrapping lyrical.
Here are some more longevity beeswax hacks:
How to Use Beeswax Wraps Correctly
Beeswax wraps are useful (obviously). However, it’s important to understand when they should and should not be used.
- Don’t use beeswax wraps to cover hot containers or food (as mentioned above, they’re not a fan of heat).
- For food safety reasons, don’t use beeswax wraps for covering raw meat, and don’t rely on them for long-term storage (i.e where an air-tight seal should be used).
- Avoid using a beeswax wrap to contain oily, saucy, or acidic foods, which can degrade the coating and cause staining.
How to Dry Beeswax Wraps
After cleaning beeswax wraps, leave them to air dry. You can drape them on your dish drying rack, or hang them out on the line to dry outside. But watch out for those sunny days as it could cause an unfortunate meltdown.
Similarly, avoid placing beeswax wraps to dry in sweltering locations – close to a heat source or under the baking sun.
How to Store Beeswax Wraps
Once your beeswax wraps are dry, you can fold them gently and place them in the drawer or another cool(ish) location.
Ideally, somewhere out of direct sunlight and not too close to an oven, stove, radiator, or another heat source.
How to Repair & Re-Wax Beeswax Wraps
Even with perfect cleaning and care routine, it’s important to recognize that the coating on beeswax wraps will not last forever.
The good news, however, is that even when the coating is damaged or has come off, you can do a little refresh to bring them back to life.
Remember, at the core of your beeswax wrap is a piece of fabric – usually cotton. We recommend opting for 100% organic cotton to maximize your eco-efforts and reduce exposure to potential toxins.
Even when the wax coating is beyond repair, the piece of fabric will still be usable. To turn it back into its former beauty, you simply have to renew or replace the coating.
If the coating is beginning to break down but has not yet degraded fully, you can simply heat the beeswax wrap gently.
If the wax coating is more degraded, and the wax is diminished, you can add more beeswax. Simply grate some natural organic beeswax over the surface before heating it gently.
If the coating seems beyond repair, you can start from scratch. First, wash in hot, soapy water to remove the remnants of the coating which remain.
Then add your beeswax, or your chosen ingredients, to restore a fresh coating and make your wrap functional once more.
You can also get a little creative by other ingredients like jojoba oil to increase function and make the wraps more pliable.
Check out this guide for instructions that will help you re-wax your beeswax wrap, (or make your own beeswax wrap from scratch).
5. Beeswax Wraps Alternatives
Beeswax wraps are a go-to in the world of less waste. But they’re not for everyone. If you are trying to embrace a vegan lifestyle, you’ll want to consider vegan wax wraps.
Reusable vegan wraps are made from plant-based waxes. To ensure your choice is as sustainable as possible, look into how and where the materials used are sourced from.
Remember, vegan waxes such as soy can have a negative environmental impact. While vegan alternatives are often ethical they’re not always sustainable.
The good news is that the right vegan wraps, like plant-based wraps, can also be cleaned and cared for to keep going just as long as their counterparts.
Cleaning and Caring for Reusable Vegan Wraps
Fortunately, caring for your vegan food wraps is no different to caring for beeswax wraps.
So follow the tips above and you’ll have many years enjoying the food waste fight, all the while reducing plastic use.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HOW TO CARE FOR VEGAN & BEESWAX WRAPS
Whether you’re team beeswax wraps or team vegan wax wraps, remember: correct cleaning and care are key.
So take good care of the wraps you choose and they’ll take good care of your food.
Feel free to share this guide with your friends, so we can all reap the honey of the rewards these zero waste products can bring, and prevent any stinging issues along the way.