Summer holidays are over and the school year has just started and yes, I heard that collective cheer! Most kids need to take lunch, breakfast or at least a snack to school. Adults often take lunch to work, too. This year, I decided to make environmentally-friendly DIY wax cloth food wraps for Miss M’s kindergarten breakfasts.
To some extent, doing our bit for the environment is easy. There are many containers available for fruit, soup and salads. Meanwhile, sandwiches (or in our case toast) are often still wrapped in plastic or aluminium foil. This easy DIY solves this problem.
An environmentally-friendly and easy DIY: wax cloth food wraps
The great thing about these environmentally-friendly wax cloth food wraps is that they are easy and quick to make and totally customisable. You can choose the material to match your containers, bag or just your child’s (or your) character. Miss M chose some fabric with silver stars and another with unicorns, which go with her unicorn lunch bag. They didn’t have any dinosaur fabric for our little dinosaur aficionado.
Reuse them again and again. When they get dirty, give them a wipe. In only a few easy steps you’ll have a number of wraps that you can size to suit your needs. If they are too big, you can cut them to suit even after they have been coated in wax.
With the move towards greater sustainability, a set of these environmentally-friendly wax cloth food wraps would even be acceptable gifts. Make some now and in under an hour you’ll have your first Christmas stocking stuffers! You can even use them to wrap your Christmas gifts (with a bit of ribbon or string) and reduce paper waste.
How many you make and what size depends on your needs. I made four:
- 35 x 35 cm
- 30 x 30 cm
- 25 x 25 cm and
- 20 x 20 cm.
I’ll report back when I know which ones we use most.
Pinking shears (zig-zag scissors) work best to cut out the fabric squares. If you don’t have any pinking shears, use fabric scissors or whatever scissors you have that will cut the fabric and leave a fairly clean edge.
Crucially, the wax must be non-perfumed and natural (not parafin) with no added colourants. We used beeswax.
The fabrics we chose all had white backgrounds. The beeswax turned them yellow. If this is not the look you are after, use darker coloured fabrics as the basis.
In addition to choosing the fabric, Miss M actually helped to paint on the wax. The wax is hot and may burn easily, so make sure your child understands and is careful if you decide to let them help.
Use layers of newspaper and wax paper when ironing. I mistakenly used my ironing board and not enough paper underneath the cloth. When the wax melted, I had wax everywhere. All over the ironing board cover and all over the floor. I even managed to get some
While this project was quick and simple, the clean up is going to take time.
What you need
- Light-weight cotton fabric in your choice of colour and pattern; if possible, wash and iron in advance
- pencil for drawing on the fabric
- Fabric scissors (pinking shears if possible)
- unperfumed, uncoloured wax (pellets or shavings)
- coconut oil
- a clean and dry food tin
- (an old) saucepan
- a clean paintbrush
- wax paper
Step 1: Prepare the fabric
Once you have selected your fabric, mark out the size that you want. Using the scissors, cut out your fabric squares (or rectangles).
Step 2: Melt the wax
Place wax pellets or shavings and coconut oil in the can. How much you will need will depend on how many sheets you are making. Mix the wax and the coconut oil in the ratio of four to one. I used 6 tablespoons of wax pellets to 1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
Place the tin in a saucepan with water (about one-third of the way up the tin) over medium heat. Stir intermittently until the wax is all melted.
Be careful not to burn yourself on the steam or wax or when removing the tin from the saucepan
Step 3: Paint the fabric
Place a sheet of wax paper on top of a couple of sheets of newspaper. Lay one of the fabric squares on top.
Paint the fabric with the wax until you have an even layer and no blank spots. If necessary, do a second layer. If the fabric is patterned, paint the side without the pattern.
Step 4: Iron
Place the wax-covered fabric square on fresh pieces (at least two) of wax paper on top of the newspaper. Place fresh pieces (at least two) on top of the fabric.
Carefully and slowly iron the top layer of wax paper until you see the wax on the fabric melt. If necessary, flip the wax paper and fabric bundle over so that you are ironing the fabric from the back (still through wax paper). Keep ironing until you have an even layer of wax on the fabric.
Allow to cool for a few seconds and then carefully peel the fabric off the wax paper. Place somewhere (preferably on another sheet of wax paper) and allow to cool.
Step 5 (if necessary): Use the hairdryer
If you still have uneven amounts of wax on your cloth, use a hairdryer on medium to gently melt and move the wax to give the cloth an even coating.
Step 6: Use your new wax cloths (or gift them)
You can use your new environmentally-friendly DIY wax cloth food wraps for your sandwiches, bagels, crackers, uncut fruit, cheese or wurst, etc. – whatever you can dream up!
If you can still tell the difference (which I can’t!), place the wax side closest to the food.