Sunday, February 17, 2013

Replacing Plastic Wrap: One More Use for Beeswax

Recently, as I wrestled with a stupid roll of plastic wrap (I know, plastic wrap can't be stupid, but you know what I mean. It refuses to tear on the little metal thingy in the box,unlike your fingers which shred to ribbons. Then the darn stuff won't stick to anything but itself eventually becoming a useless wad of plastic.) During this current wrestling match, I caught myself thinking, "What would my great grandmother have used?" She certainly didn't have plastic wrap back then. Maybe oilcloth? (I don't even know if you can get oilcloth anymore. Kind of sounds gross, anyway. ) What did my grandmother use? My mom never used plastic wrap. She always used waxed paper, much to my embarrassment. "Mom! everyone uses baggies!" Mom did not care what everyone else used.

We mostly use reusable containers, some plastic, although I'm working toward replacing those with glass. But some things don't require a container, they just need a wrap. While I sometimes use baggies, it irks my conscience. Waxed paper seems a better choice, but it's still another piece of trash to throw in the landfill. What else could I do?

So I thought and thought and decided to try making waxed cloth, instead of paper.

Here, in brief, is what I did:
  1. I washed (in soap, not detergent) an old cotton pillowcase, and let air dry
  2. Using pinking shears, I cut out two pieces (it was a small pillowcase) and trimmed each to fit a rimmed cookie sheet. I placed one cloth on each cookie sheet.
  3. I grated some beeswax, then sprinkled it over the cloth, making sure to evenly distribute, all the way to the edges. I used about a 1/4 cup of grated wax per cloth.
  4. I popped it in the oven for a minute or two (set at 300 degrees) til the wax was all melted
  5.  Let it cool
finished cloth, cooling

And it works! I've used them to wrap blocks of cheese and to place over containers. It doesn't seal like plastic wrap is supposed to, but if you warm in a bit in your hands, you can shape it nicely. I also have rubber bands (recycled!) that I'll snap around the rim of a container just to hold the cloth in place.

It does a pretty good job and it makes me happy every time I pull a cloth wrapped bundle from the fridge. It's not made of petroleum products, nor does it have lots of waste packaging. They can be wiped off, or rinsed in cool water. And no nasty serrated metal thingies so I can keep my fingers intact. It's all good.

Beeswax cloth bowl cover

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