My love affair with bees started when some bees decided to come and live in my house. I let them be, just observing that I didn’t make any sudden movements close to the small entry and exit point of the hive. Then I went travelling for 6 months forgetting that they were there. On return, a beautiful bee hive spanned the ceiling of my lounge room. We called our friend Rudy, who carefully persuaded the queen and her bees to switch to a conventional bee box. They started a new home and are happily producing honey.
This process resulted in five litres of honey and a lot of honeycomb that had to be removed from the ceiling. With so much honeycomb I decided to start making beeswax wraps that could be shared with my loved ones.
The beeswax wraps were introduced into my life by my daughter Laila. I fell in love with them immediately as they proved to be a natural alternative to cling wrap. They’re fantastic for preserving food such as open fruit, left over vegetables, cheese, bread and even an open avocado lasts longer when wrapped in a beeswax wrap. The principle is simple: the product is flexible enough to cover the food and the residual propolis that is present in the beeswax contributes to the asepsis of the environment, maintaining the humidity without the presence of bacteria decomposers.
The Problem of Plastic Films – cling wrap
There is only one thing to do with plastic wrap. Leave it on the supermarket shelf until they make no more. Sounds radical?! On average, families use 24 rolls of plastic wrap per year. This unnecessarily contributes to the 300 million tons of plastic produced every year.
Cling wrap can be harmful to your help. Scientists have discovered that the chemical traces present in plastic products are responsible for a variety of clinical conditions. According to the Institute of Agriculture and the Ecology Centre, exposure to PVC can cause birth defects, skin diseases, cancer and deafness, as well as liver and spleen problems.
Cooking food in plastic
Several television programs are encouraging to cook in plastic. Eggs are being wrapped with plastic wrap then poached; meat is packed in plastic bags and cooked in water at temperatures just below the boil. People have begun to question the safety of these cooking methods.
Some bags are made from a very thin plastic and can be put into boiling water without melting. Though according to North Dakota State University (NDSU) when the plastic is boiled, the chemicals used to make it can pass into the food being prepared. Common chemicals in plastics include BPA and phthalates. Harvard Medical School says that highly fatty foods are especially susceptible. NDSU adds that some plastic bags release toxic fumes from paints, glue and the recycled materials that may have been used to produce it. Harvard Medical School recommends heating foods only in containers that are label approved, especially if they are heated in the microwave.
Make your own beeswax wraps
Beeswax wraps are washable and reusable. They last more than 12 months and are used on average, a few times a week. And good news, beeswax wraps also increase the durability of the food.
You will need:
- 1 cup of grated beeswax
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (some recipes use jojoba)
- ¼ cup of powdered pine resin (find it online)
- 100% cotton fabric of your choice
- pinking shears
- wax paper
- paint brush (to be used only with wax)
- Place grated beeswax, pine resin and coconut oil in a stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl into a double boiler. Melt the mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Cut the fabric into various sizes with the pinking shears to prevent the material from fraying. I didn’t have pinking shears so I cut the fabric as per photo.
- Line a flat tray with wax paper. Smooth the fabric onto the oven tray. Using the paint brush, spread the wax/oil mixture evenly over the fabric. It will probably stiffen quickly.
- Heat the material in the oven at 120 ° C for a few minutes to melt the wax and allow it to penetrate the fibers of the fabric. At this moment, it’s important to watch the process. Pull the tray a little out of the oven to check on the fabric. If some of the fabric is not covered in wax, spread the mixture with the brush, and put it back in the oven to allow the mixture spread evenly.
- When the mixture has fully melted and evenly spread, remove the sheet of fabric with tongs, holding the fabric for a minute. Wait for drips to stop.
- Hang on a line.
Optional: Add a few drops of citrus oil (lemon or orange) to add antibacterial properties and a nice smell.
Vegan Option: Use candelilla wax instead of beeswax.