beeswax

The Buzz About Wraps

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Homemade Beeswax Wraps

Someone asked recently in a local small business owners group if anyone knew where one could find beeswax wraps. A few people piped in with some Portland-area shops, but one person commented, "I just make them! Super easy!" Intrigued, I used the Google and it turns out, indeed! Just make them! Super easy.

Beeswax Wraps Materials
Beeswax Wraps Materials

If you're like me, you likely have a lot of random bits of fabric lying around from various sewing projects, and beeswax wraps are a delightful way to use them up. The wraps are an eco-friendly, re-usable alternative to tin foil or saran wrap. Use them in the same way you would use either of those options, by covering a plate/bowl or by placing the food directly in the wrap and closing it up. The beeswax forms a protective seal so that moisture doesn't pass through to the fabric, and the wraps adhere to the shape you mold them into when you use them. It's pretty much magic!

Some available recipes are more complicated than others, and now that I am hooked on the wraps, I plan on trying every single one. When I made the first batch of wraps, I happened to have all the ingredients and tools needed in the recipe featured on Apartment Therapy, so I went with that. Start to finish, I made four wraps in under an hour, prep and clean up included. Not too shabby!

For there recipe, all that was needed was a cookie sheet, parchment paper, a paintbrush, fabric, shearing scissors, and beeswax shavings/pellets. After cutting the fabric to the desired size, the next step was to place the parchment paper on the cookie sheet, and then the fabric on the parchment paper. Spread some beeswax evenly on the fabric (see photo), and place the whole things in your oven on the lowest setting.

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I started getting impatient so I eventually upped the temp to 200 degrees (Fahrenheit), and I kept opening the door to check on melting status, spreading around the beeswax as it turned liquid. Making two at a time, I staggered their placement in the oven by a few minutes, as the whole process was likely somewhere between 5-7mins per wrap.

Once I pulled out a wrap that was evenly coated with the wet wax, I waited just a moment or two before pulling it up by a corner (being careful not to burn myself) to let the excess wax drip off. For some of my wraps, I had almost none. Finally, I let the wrap cool completely by draping it over the back of a chair. It was ready to use almost immediately.

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My husband and I have a fair amount of food preservation paranoia, but we are both happy to report the wraps work great! Once used, they can simply be raised with soap and water and put away until used again. Beeswax wraps fans do caution against using the wraps to hold uncooked meats, as you can't exactly sanitize them, but we use them for everything else: veggies, fruits, leftovers, cheese! They store easily and last a good long stretch (8-9 months looks ike it is the upper limit, depending on use).

Such a simple way to get rid of the disposable options and move toward a more natural and re-usable option!

Feeling Balm-y

DIY Lip Balms for Winter Weather

Lip Balms
Lip Balms

It's wintertime and windy, and this means chapped lips for a lot of us. Lips are somewhere one would think you wouldn't want to be putting products with unrecognizable names or odd ingredients, but we often do just that with our standard Blistex, Chapstick, or whatever moisturizer of choice you have in mind. It doesn't have to be that way, however. Lip balm is really easy to make using simple ingredients, and it is lots of fun, too. In fact, we already had all of the basic ingredients already on-hand, what was crucial was the tubes. Once we got that straightened out, and then we picked up a filler tray a few weeks ago, it became obvious that a massive batch of lip balm was needed. Best be prepared for the colder temps!

We used the standard recipe from Soap Queen TV, mostly because um... yum BUTTERCREAM, but there are other great recipes out there, including Imitation Burt's Bees from Wellness Mama and the really fun alternatives proposed in 20 Deliciously Simple DIY Recipes from B+C.

Whatever recipe you choose, essentially you'll want to have coconut oil, beeswax, and then some other variety of oils to work with for your balm. If you're going for a completely natural option, you can stop there, but we went the whole nine yards with adding color and fragrance.

Too much mica
Too much mica

The first batch was our sample batch and the colorant was way more potent than expected. Not to worry! What was going to be a lip balm turned quickly into a lip tint, and honestly, it turned out even better as a result. However, 50 tubes of lip tint was more than we needed, so we were far more conservative with our color once we got to the larger batch. In fact, this is why one makes a test batch first; we patted ourselves on the back for learning our lesson on the small-scale attempt.

We also learned the power of the disposable dropper during this experiment, as the lip balm hardens quickly and got completely stuck in the dropper after a point. In other words, it is reasonable to assume that after doing this project, you won't be getting your dropper back, and it's best to be ok with parting ways from the outset.

Lip Balm Tray
Lip Balm Tray

The tube tray was a new adventure and honestly delightful! In the same amount of time it took to make one tube, we made 50, so that felt pretty good. We lost a few tubes to a hasty dismount once the lip balm was dry and ready, mucking up the top layer of the balm within the tube. This was essentially just an esthetic problem, so it  just meant more freebies for us. Again, winning. It was also important to have a cookie sheet beneath the tray, as part of the task of getting the balm into the tubes required jiggling the tray a bit, and spilling was inevitable.

All total, the project took less than an hour. We had a little bit of lip balm left over from the tray (and onto the cookie sheet), so we mixed it with some milk melt & pour soap base to create a soft creamy soap. It smells delightful, too! Part of the beauty of working with ingredients you can name is that you know when you can use them elsewhere, as well! Win-win.