Back in October, myself and a handful of ladies in my master beekeeping program attended the Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association (https://nocobees.org/ ) meeting. They were hosting Dr. Sammual Ramsey as a speaker. We all love to see Dr. Ramsey speak. He is one-of-a-kind!
If you do not know who he is............. Dr. Ramsey discovered that the varroa mite is NOT sucking the blood out of the bees like we previously thought.
He figured out that the varroa mite is actually eating the bee's fat bodies. He is doing exciting research and is now based at CU in Boulder, Colorado. https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1818371116
After Dr. Ramsey left, several of us hung out to chit-chat. I was asked by two of my master beekeeping leaders if I would mind doing a beeswax demonstration at our fall meeting in November.
A few days later I was assigned to do a demo on beeswax wraps.
I was honest with them that I had never made these before, but I am always up for a challenge. If you do not know about beeswax wraps and their many uses follow this link for more information: https://homesteadandchill.com/diy-homemade-beeswax-wraps/
Off I went to research for the best beeswax wraps recipe and application. I went to several web pages. All were saying something a little different, and applying the wax with different techniques, such as using a cheese grater to make the wax smaller and easier to melt. Some called for you to place your fabric and wax in your oven. Then there were a few that had you paint on your wax, which came out uneven in my tests, and I wasn't willing to sacrifice my oven to melt the wax in. Others used a dunk-and-hang method.
I settled on the iron-on method, so that's what I will talk about below.
Next, let's talk about what types of wax recipes there are; 1. Beeswax
2. Beauty Grade Beeswax https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NMNDT1W/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
3. Pre-made bar from Amazon
4. Homemade recipe (https://homesteadandchill.com/diy-homemade-beeswax-wraps/ )
Below is my opinion on the 4 different ways to wax.........
1. I found that using my beeswax gave the fabric a rigid and not-so-flexible fabric. It didn't absorb as smoothly into the fabric as the others either.
2. Using beauty-grade beeswax made very pretty wraps with a smooth texture, almost silky,
but again not flexible.
3. The pre-made bar needed to be grated down with a cheese grater. This bar has the same mixture as the wax recipe to a degree. It also ruins your cheese grater and I usually end up adding bits of my finger in. Pass for me.
4. I like the flexibility in this recipe. If you want extra sticky wraps, add more pine resin. If you like your wraps stiff, add more beeswax. If you like them really soft add more carrier oil, such as Jojoba or almond.
See what I used in my recipe below.
I decided to try these 4 different ways on standard 100% cotton quilt fabric. Nothing fancy or high-end, just cotton fabric. DO NOT use any fabric with plastic in it, for obvious reasons.
I made the recipe listed in #4. I melted all of the ingredients in my wax melter, then filtered and poured the mix out onto a candy mold, and let it cool.
My Recipe: For this variation, I combined 1/4 cup of my own beeswax, 2 tablespoons of pine resin, and 1 tablespoon of organic almond oil (that's all I had for a carrier oil) in my wax melter. Heat until melted and fully combined.
Here is the link to the mold I use: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Z4PNBM6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Tip: I used a large baking sheet and put down a layer of parchment paper (NOT WAX PAPER), then I put the mold on top of that, That way the extra wax can run out onto the parchment and you can re-use it later.
I found that 1/4 cup of the wax pastilles covers approximately a 10x10 or 11x11 piece of fabric.
Make sure you pre-wash your fabric and iron it flat first.
You also want to use pinking sheers on your fabric to help with fraying. https://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-12-94458697WJ-Pinking-Shears-Orange/dp/B000AXI856/ref=sr_1_4?crid=2WAV15S6Y9GMA&keywords=pinking+shears&qid=1668530753&s=home-garden&sprefix=pinkin%2Cgarden%2C156&sr=1-4
Let's set up your area to make the wax wraps now. I place an ironing mat down on top of my ironing board.
I do a fair amount of sewing and I do not want to ruin my ironing board with sticky wax.
Turn on your iron to the Cotton/Linen setting. Turn the steam off, or empty the water out of the iron if you don't have that option.
Tip: You can also go to the Dollar Store and buy a sacrificial iron for this.
Place 2 layers of parchment paper down on your ironing mat. Make sure to use a much larger piece of parchment paper than you think you will need. As you are melting the wax, you can press the excess off of the fabric and back onto the parchment paper to reuse again.
Use 2 more large pieces of parchment to cover the top of your fabric. Make sure you are covering well beyond the edges of your fabric. You don't want to ruin your iron.
I used approximately 1/4 cup of wax pastilles out of the red mold mat that I linked above. I placed the wax pastilles under the top layer of parchment, on top of the fabric. Think of it like a sandwich: parchment, fabric, wax pastilles, parchment.
I start by placing my hot iron on the center of the parchment and let the wax underneath start to melt.
This won't take very long, so lift the iron up often and check. You want to melt it, not burn it! Your iron will turn off automatically if you leave it down for too long.
Start moving the iron around slowly, spreading out the wax. You should be able to see where the fabric is being saturated and where you are missing wax, it will look dry. Set the iron down, and let everything sit for 30 seconds, then lift up the edge of the parchment and see how your wrap is looking.
If you see dry spots, add another wax pastille and iron it in after placing the parchment back down. I only stress the parchment because you will ruin your iron if you don't remember.
Once your fabric is saturated, it will look wet. Try to spread out the wax as evenly as possible.
Set your iron down again away from you.
Remove the top layer of parchment paper from the fabric and set aside.
Now place your iron on the edge of the bottom piece of parchment ( iron still standing up). Use the iron as an extra hand while you use two hands to evenly pull your wax wrap off of the parchment.
Hold your wrap in the air and wave ever so slightly until it turns solid and cool to the touch.
BOOM! That's it, wax wraps for everyone!
Suggested best sizes for beeswax wraps:
Small – 7×7” or 8×8”: Ideal for covering small items, like the top of a mason jar, half an apple or avocado, or the cut end of a cucumber.
Medium – 10 or 11” square: Covers an average bowl, block of cheese, half a sandwich, or other small to medium vegetables like a partial head of cabbage.
Large – 13 or 14” square: Covers a full sandwich, half a watermelon, a small baking dish or average pie pan, or a medium mixing bowl – such as a bowl or basket for proofing sourdough!
Extra large – 16” or greater: Create an extra large homemade beeswax wrap to cover large bowls and baking dishes, whole or partial loaves of bread, and more.
Using Homemade Beeswax Wraps
Use your homemade beeswax wraps to store cut fruit and veggies, around cheese, bread, and more. They’re perfect to use on top of bowls, food storage containers, or glass jars instead of plastic wrap or a lid, like over a salad or leftover bowl of soup in the fridge.
Because you shouldn’t wash beeswax wraps with hot water (discussed in the wash and care section to follow) and they therefore can’t be thoroughly sanitized, it is best to NOT use your wraps in contact with raw meat. Consumer New Zealand also suggests avoiding using beeswax wraps to cover food meant for infants or the immunocompromised, just in case.
Homemade beeswax wraps usually stick to themselves better than a bowl or other object, so simply pinch the sides together to create a good hold. If they’re feeling a tad stiff and not super sticky, make them more pliable by rubbing and warming them between your hands briefly before use.
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